Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised departing minister Silvan Shalom Monday for his decision to quit politics in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him.Netanyahu, speaking at the Likud faction meeting, said that Shalom made the right decision to quit and thanked him for his accomplishments in office. "After years of public service in key positions, he is leaving under unfortunate circumstances," Netanyahu said of Shalom, who did not come to the Knesset Monday. Aides to Shalom came and removed his belongings from his office. Netanyahu officially told the MKs in his faction that he intends to advance the next Likud leadership race, which will be held February 23, pending the approval of Likud Central Commitee members in a vote next Tuesday. "Completing the internal processes of electing a chairman and a head of the Central Committee of Likud will project stability and strength in the coalition under the Likud leadership," Netanyahu said. "For the good of the party we should refrain from creating camps and lead Israel as a united party."That last sentence was interpreted by Likud MKs as a plea to any potential competition not to run against him.