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Meretz chief Haim Oron on Sunday said that he will not step down as party leader, despite Meretz's dismal results in last week's parliamentary elections.

"For me, responsibility means working toward the rehabilitation of Meretz," said Oron. "In light of that, I have decided not to resign."

Oron made his remarks at a meeting to discuss how the party won only three seats in parliament and to address calls for Oron to step down.

MK Avshalom Vilan supported Oron's decision to stay, saying that now is not the time for internal fighting.

Vilan said he estimated that the centrist Kadima party, headed by Tzipi Livni, will ultimately split and that Israel's left will have to provide an alternative in the next election cycle.

Vilan said two factors were responsible for Meretz's poor showing: The Gaza war, which created a shift to the right among Israel's electorate, and Livni's last-minute campaign, urging people to vote for her as an attempt to block Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu.

Three hundred Meretz members on Saturday signed a petition urging Oron to resign, while a second petition signed by 400 other party members, including Shulamit Aloni and Yossi Beilin, called for Oron to stay.