Moshe Feiglin is set to hold a press conference Sunday where he's expected to announce he is dropping out of the Likud primaries race.
Feiglin associates told Ynet the decision was taken after senior Likud figures told them recent changes in the party's charter were meant to
remove criminals, rather than Feiglin, from the Likud.
His associates said Friday that the press conference is aimed at "finally closing this chapter and coming down to terms with all those who exploited his power in the past and have recently tried to harm him."
"At present, Feiglin plans to announce his intention not to compete for the list for Knesset...We tend to believe in Bibi (newly-elected Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu) and understand that he has gone back on his word in order not to strengthen opposition against him," one associate said.
'Bibi afraid of Central Committee'
While Netanyahu wanted to present to the public an achievement of removing Feiglin from the party list, it appears the religious party member is stronger than he had expected.
The Likud Central Committee is set to meet Sunday to approve changes made to the party charter, so that members with criminal records and who have been sentenced to three months active prison terms would not be allowed to run as candidates in party primaries.
The original plan was to convene a meeting for two days, one day of deliberations and another to vote. It was later decided to hold discussions and vote on the same day, after Netanyahu understood the growing objection to removing Feiglin from the movement.
This move was also a last-minute to prevent an internal dispute and cast a shadow on the party's desire to present a united front.
"There was no demand from speakers and so the schedule was made smaller," Likud officials said. Feiglin supporters view this move as a victory.
Deal goes bust
Over the past week, senior Likud officials tried to embroider a "deal" whereby Feiglin would remove his candidacy in return for a clarification by the Likud Elections Committee chairman that his previous conviction shows no dishonor.
According to officials, the deal went bust after Feiglin demanded a letter of commitment from the judge. Associates close to the religious Likud member said Feiglin has refused any dealings with Netanyahu.
"The ball is in Netanyahu's court. He climbed up the tree and we will not help him down. His test of leadership to remove Feiglin has failed," one associate said. "He pushed Feiglin to run and last week sent him a message through officials that he would climb down the tree he had previously climbed up."