Moshe Feiglin Expected to Withdraw From Likud Primaries

Moshe Feiglin is expected to withdraw from the Likud primaries today.

Feiglin, head of the Jewish Leadership faction in the Likud, intends to call a news conference at 10 A.M. to make his announcement, following an agreement with Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, a source close to Feiglin said.

At the same time the Likud Central Committee will convene at Tel Aviv's Fair Grounds to debate Netanyahu's proposal to ban criminals from contending for places on the Likud's Knesset list, a move that arguably was designed to prevent Feiglin's running .

Sources close to Feiglin said that according to the agreement reached between the two, Netanyahu will not propose to amend the Likud's constitution specifically to block Feiglin. Instead, Netanyahu will initiate a regulation in principle.

"Feiglin never wanted to contend for a Knesset slot on the Likud's list, and wanted his deputy, Michael Poeh to do so. He only said he would run due to Netanyahu's direct attack on him. If Netanyahu is climbing down from his high horse, then we are stepping down from the race. It's a victory over Netanyahu," a confidant said.

If the central committee adopts Netanyahu's proposal, the resolution would apply to future cases. Sources close to Feiglin said, "Netanyahu went out on a limb in leading the move against Feiglin. He knew that if he harmed him within the party he would anger many and defeat his own purpose: unity in the Likud."

"Feiglin is an ideological asset to the Likud, the recent leadership elections have proved, not a burden," the source continued.

Netanyahu will propose that a convicted felon who was sentenced to three months in prison for an offense consisting of moral turpitude will be banned from contending for a slot on the Likud's Knesset list and for positions in the party's institutions.

Netanyahu's people realized that the move, intended to keep Feiglin out of the party's Knesset list, might however fail to obtain this goal. Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Tirkel has ruled that Feiglin's offense - blocking roads as part of his protest against the Oslo accords - does not constitute one of moral turpitude, Feiglin's aides said.

Sources close to Netanyahu dismissed the claim that any agreement had been reached.

"The proposal is to amend the constitution to prevent criminals from entering the party and there is nothing personal about it," an aide said.

The debate in the Likud's central committee will be held between 10 A.M. and noon. Immediately after that the polls will open for voting and remain open until 10 P.M. this evening.