Monday was not an easy day for Zalman Shoval. A former ambassador to the United States, Shoval was one of the Likud Party's founding fathers and seeing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon break away from the party on Sunday was for him sad and tragic.
"What has happened was inevitable," Shoval told The Jerusalem Post, explaining that Sharon no longer had the backing of the Likud. "But for nostalgic reasons, I am very sad about what has happened."
Shoval, who in the last primaries made an unsuccessful bid to be elected to the Knesset, said he was inclined to remain with the party but would announce his final plans at the upcoming central committee meeting on Thursday.
"My inclination is to try and see if certain wounds can be healed," he said. "I will have to see how the Likud deals with this highly unnecessary development [from Sharon]. If I see there is sufficient support among the [Knesset] members and the central committee to have the Likud remain a national liberal right-wing party then I will probably stay." Shoval reminisced Monday how he, Sharon and late finance minister Yigal Horowitz sat around a coffee shop table in Tel Aviv one day in the early '70s and drew up plans to establish the Likud Party.
"We decided that the only way to remove Labor [from power] was by getting parties that had similarities to get together in a large alignment," Shoval recalled. "Horowitz and I came from Rafi and the Labor camp and therefore our involvement was vital." As for the party's future, Shoval said he was not concerned and was even optimistic.
"The Likud will remain a very strong party, since it is the only one that has its organic roots in the people and this will not be changed even by important people leaving the Likud," he said. "This is a party that will continue to be dominant."