New Israeli party to run in elections

JERUSALEM — Nearly two years after its inception, the Third Way movement has declared itself a political party to run in the upcoming Knesset elections.

Founded in June 1994, by two renegade Labor Knesset members who oppose the government's negotiating strategy with Syria, the Third Way supports relinquishing land to the Palestinians in return for peace, but opposes an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories.

The decision to transform the Third Way into a political party was backed by the group's central committee Tuesday of last week at Ramat Efal in central Israel.

National elections are planned for late May or early June.

The party, headed by Knesset member and war hero Avigdor Kahalani, opposes a full territorial withdrawal on the Golan Heights.

Kahalani and parliamentary colleague Emanuel Zismann resigned from the Labor Party ahead of the movement's declaration.

In a letter to party secretary general Nissim Zvili, Kahalani and Zismann wrote that they could no longer belong to Labor, which they believed had failed in its commitment to the electorate.

They said the Third Way would take up the principles they claimed the Labor Party had abandoned — opposition to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and to a full Golan withdrawal.

"The Labor government is ready to give up all of the Golan," Zismann said. But The Third Way wants territorial compromise "in which Israel maintains control over most of the Golan."

The Third Way said it would hold talks with whoever wins the premiership race — Peres or Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

"We see ourselves as an insurance policy," Golan activist Yehuda Harel, and one of the founders of the Third Way, told Israel Television.