Liberal Party Founder Dead at 80

Funeral services were held Friday in Ramat Gan for Elimelech Rimalt, longtime leader of the Liberal Party, who died Thursday of a heart attack at age 80.

Born in Galicia, he was graduated from the Vienna Rabbinical Seminary and Vienna University. He came to Palestine before World War II and was appointed a secondary school headmaster in Ramat Gan. He later served as director of the town’s education department.

He was a member of Knesset from the early 1950s, representing the General Zionists. Together with the late Simcha Ehrlich, he led the party (renamed the Liberal Party) into its alignment with Menachem Begin’s Herut, to form Gahal in 1965 and later the Likud.

Rimalt served as a minister in the first national unity government (1967-70), and in the late 1970s was widely backed within Likud as a candidate for president of Israel. His candidacy, however, never received sufficient support to persuade him to run.

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