Likud Petition Demands Vote on Replacing Sharon

Likud Party Central Committee members have gained enough signatures on a petition demanding that the party convene its legislative body to elect a new chairman.

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Nissan Ratzlav-Katz and Ernie Singer, | updated: 17:15

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is the current leader of the Likud party. The Likud Central Committee can convene to elect a new chairman if at least 20 percent the 3,000 Central Committee members sign a petition to this effect. More than 1,000 members, one-third of the committee, have, in fact, signed such a petition.

Organizers have not yet handed it to Central Committee chairman Tzachi HaNegbi, because they are waiting for Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the leading contender to wrest party leadership from Sharon, to return from abroad.

At a rally organized by the Darkecha Darkeinu (Your Way is Our Way) forum of the committee scheduled for tonight in Tel Aviv, some 500 Central Committee members are expected to urge MK Uzi Landau to run for the party leadership. Dr. Landau, who heads the faction of Knesset Members loyal to the Likud's founding principles, is not expected to declare his candidacy, but may hint that such an announcement is imminent. Hundreds of central committee members already have signed a petition calling on Landau to run.

Darkecha Darkeinu head Eli Kornfeld says, "We see Uzi as the man who should lead us now and the most fitting to challenge Sharon. We have no other leader. Uzi was fired from the cabinet and gave everything up to lead the battle against the disengagement. I didn't see any other minister do that. I still hope that Bibi leaves the government and starts doing with actions what he has thus far only said in words."