Knesset member Uzi Landau, who led the battle against the disengagement plan, announced the withdraw of his candidacy for Likud leadership during a press conference Monday afternoon.
He also announced his support for Benjamin
Netanyahu as candidate for Likud chairman in the race against Ministers Shaul Mofaz and Silvan Shalom.
"The Likud is currently in crisis, the largest in our history," Landau said. "There are those who want to destroy us, to burn down our house. When the house starts to go up in flames, one must ask himself whether he wants to save it or flee."
"I have chosen to save the house and unite with and support the movement's chairman who will bring about victory. This is the reason I have chosen to support Netanyahu for Likud chairmanship and government leadership."
He also called for all fellow Likud members to support Netanyahu, saying that "This is the only way to establish a united and strong team."
According to Landau, he has reached an agreement with Netanyahu regarding several political issues to be presented to the public at a later stage.
Likud sources estimated Sunday evening that Landau would eventually withdraw from the race. His aides, however at the time, denied the reports.
Landau met Sunday evening with Likud members in Haifa, during which time Netanyahu aides spread the rumor that Landau is expected to quit the race.
Later in the evening, Landau met with Netanyahu. Ynet has learned that during the meeting, and team meetings which followed, the two formed a document of understandings.
Their associates claimed that while they did not reach any agreements on a personal level, they did agreed on political issues to be included in the Likud platform as Landau would like to see it, including building in the territories, finding solutions for the West Bank evacuees and improving Israel's economy.
Netanyahu to pressure Katz
The other Likud candidates, headed by Netanyahu, have recently been exerting heavy pressure on Landau in a bid to persuade him to quit the race. Once his support started decreasing and understood that he has no real chance of winning, Landau apparently decided to drop out from the race.
Netanyahu, who is leading in the polls by a considerable margin, hopes to win Likud chairmanship in the first round, scheduled for December 19.
He is expected to increase pressure on Minister Yisrael Katz to also withdraw from the race and join Netanyahu's campaign.
Katz had said in response to Uzi Landau's expected withdrawal that "I am now the only candidate for the Likud leadership who consistently voted against the disengagement plan."
"I believe that many of Uzi Landau's supporters will now support me," he added.
Katz's aides said Monday morning that "Yisrael will not drop out so fast, and it is not certain that he will join Netanyahu in any case."
Sources in the Likud estimated that Katz will eventually withdraw from the race, since he was never seen as having a real chance to win.