Former minister David Levy is returning to political life, according to associates who took part in a surprise party held Saturday evening to mark the key Likud figure's 70th birthday.
During the event, which was held at his hometown of Beit She'an in northern Israel, Levy spoke of a "leadership problem" in Israel, and his supporters said he had decided to run for Knesset on the Likud Party ticket.
Levy, who is married with 12 children, resigned in 2002 after failing to acquire a position on Likud's list that would guarantee him a spot in the 17th Knesset.
During his illustrious career, which began in 1969 and gained steam with the Likud's rise to power in 1977, Levy served as served as Minister of Immigration and Absorption (1977-79), Minister of Housing and Construction (1979-90; 1981-84 also Deputy Prime Minister); Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice Premier (1990-92); and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister (1996-98).
His son, Beit She'an Mayor Jackie Levy, has refused to run for Knesset despite repeated calls to do so by Likud activists in the north. "Now we understand why," one activist said during the party.
Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, who called Levy to congratulate him on his birthday, expressed his satisfaction with the former minister's decision to resume his political career.
MK Moshe Kahlon, chairman of the Likud Central Committee, said "I am pleased to hear of Levy's return, as he is one of the most important figures our party has known. His comeback will help us regain the support of sectors that have abandoned the party in recent years."