Yuli Edelstein
Yuli Edelsteinצילום: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Former Israeli Health Minister MK Yuli Edelstein has quit the Likud leadership race, withdrawing his bid to challenge Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu for control of the Knesset’s largest faction.

Edelstein announced he was leaving the race Thursday night, after it became clear he was unlikely to defeat the incumbent party chairman ahead of the November 1st Knesset election.

“When we face an election critical for the State of Israel, I cannot drag the Likud movement into an internecine conflict,” said Edelstein. “Therefore I have decided to remove my candidacy for party chairman in the upcoming election.”

“My decision is based on a desire to expand our ranks and to win. In this election, we will do things differently. The way we go about achieving our goals will be very important – we will win with sensitivity, determination, and wisdom.”

“This is the time to rally together, just as the name of our party implies. Together with Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, I will lead the nationalist camp to victory in the elections and form a fully right-wing government.”

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu praised Edelstein for his decision.

“I am certain that we will work together, as we have in the past, along with all the other party members, towards a Likud victory and for the greater victory of the State of Israel.”