After Hanegbi exit, health minister to run party until Dec. 19 primary.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
The Likud's ministerial forum decided on Wednesday to replace interim Likud chairman Tzahi Hanegbi, who chose to leave the Likud and join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima, with a team of Likud leaders led by Health Minister Dan Naveh, who will run the party until the December 19 Likud primary.
Hanegbi became acting Likud leader after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's resignation because he was the chairman of the Likud Central Committee.
But the party's constitution says nothing about who would take over for an acting party chairman.
The forum decided that, in lieu of a chairman, the forum itself would make the Likud's decisions and Naveh's team would temporarily run the party.
The team includes Education Minister Limor Livnat, Likud faction chairman MK Gideon Aa'ar, Knesset law committee chairman Michael Eitan and Likud director-general Arik Brami.
The forum's first decision was to immediately begin a public relations campaign under the slogan, "there is no place like home. the Likud is in the heart."
"The main task right now that i am taking upon myself is to foster cooperation among the party's leadership," Naveh said.
The decision to form Naveh's team was intended in part to prevent the chairman of the Likud secretariat, Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, from taking over the party.
Katz had said that he believed the interim chairmanship of the Likud went automatically to him upon Hanegbi's resignation.
Some Likud officials said they thought that MK Uzi Landau would be the Likud's interim leader because he finished second to Hanegbi in the race for central committee chairman.
Others suggested that former defense minister Moshe Arens serve as interim leader because he is a respected party elder who is out of politics and independent.
Katz will convene the secretariat in Tel Aviv on Thursday to take steps to prepare the party for the elections.