Israeli ambassador to U.S. ends his second coming

"I had a feeling and I guess that was one of the reasons that I never wrote a book of my first term, although I had all the material for it, because I didn't want to burn any bridges."

While Shoval still has yet to decide if he is going to burn those bridges, he said he is planning to spend time with his family and return to his business ventures. He also has been asked to head the board of trustees of a new academic institution.

"I will try to remain involved, but you can be involved in different ways," he said. Shoval, who has said he was bitten by the political bug early on in life, said he is not sure if he would run again for the Knesset, where he served some 13 years, mostly as a member of the Likud Party.

"I still have it, but even bugs get older," said Shoval, 69, who left his post Saturday.

He was immediately replaced by Israel's new ambassador, David Ivry, a former general who commanded Israel's air force and has headed the Jewish state's strategic relationship with the United States since 1986.

Shoval's second stint as ambassador ended just like his first: The Likud prime minister that had sent him to Washington was defeated by the opposition candidate.

"Every time I come here, for some reason, the government falls down," he said during the reception he and his wife, Kena, hosted.

Both times, Shoval continued to serve the new Labor governments until his replacement was named.

In 1992, when Yitzhak Shamir was defeated by Yitzhak Rabin, Shoval stayed on in Washington for nine months until he was replaced by Itamar Rabinovich.

This time around, Shoval has served the government of Ehud Barak, who in May defeated Benjamin Netanyahu, the man who tapped Shoval for his second tour in 1998.

Shoval is "one of the most interesting Likud politicians in my mind because he comes from a background and an ideology of moderation and compromise which reflects his Dayanist and Ben-Gurionist roots but he has also been a very effective spokesman for the Likud Party," said Samuel Lewis, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel.