Former foreign minister Silvan Shalom intends to seek another Likud primary ahead of the next general election, especially if the election is held close to its set date of November 2010, sources close to Shalom said Tuesday.
Shalom decided not to run in Tuesday's primary, because Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu insisted on holding the race in August and not giving him time to prepare to challenge him. Shalom did not vote in the primary, because he was celebrating the birthday of his wife, Judy Nir-Moses Shalom, with his family in New York.
"The election is not legitimate, so I decided not to participate," Shalom told The Jerusalem Post from New York.
Shalom's associates lashed out at Netanyahu for holding the race in August when many Likud members were out of the country. They said headlines about low voter turnout and the impact of Likud activist Moshe Feiglin were easily avoidable and were all Netanyahu's fault.
"This election is not a celebration of democracy," said former Likud director-general Arik Brami, who was Shalom's campaign manager until he quit the race. "It's political thievery. We warned Bibi that he shouldn't hold the race when more than a million Israelis are on vacation. There is no reason for anyone to vote when the candidates are so unattractive."
Brami said Shalom had planned his vacation before the primary date was set. He rejected charges from Shalom's political opponents that he appeared vengeful and bitter for not voting in the primary.
"If the race would have been held after Sukkot, it would have been a real celebration of democracy, and it would have given the party a big boost," Brami said. "It pains me and angers me to see the Likud the way it looks today."