The Third Way

(Derech Hashlishit)
   A political party comprised mainly of former members of the Israel Labor Party who left out of concern about the territorial concessions the governments of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres were reportedly considering making to Syria in negotiations over the Golan Heights. It promoted a "third way"—not that of Labor or Likud. Under the leadership of former Labor member of the Knesset Avigdor Kahalani (a hero of the Golan campaign during the Yom Kippur War and a leader of the Knesset's "Golan caucus"), the party won four seats in the 1996 election and joined the governing coalition formed by Benjamin Netanyahu, with Kahalani serving as public security minister. Its centrist policy platform was encapsulated in the slogan "Peace with Secure Borders"—it supported peace negotiations with Israel's Arab neighbors on the basis of the land-for-peace concept, but it demanded that any concessions be reciprocal and conditioned on Israel's national security requirements.
   In addition to its concern about the status of the Golan Heights, the Third Way expressed reservations about the way in which the Rabin-Peres governments had implemented aspects of the Oslo Accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization. While acknowledging that Israel must find a way to end its administration over the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, leaders of the new political movement feared that the level and scope of Israel Defense Forces redeployments in the Occupied Territories were weakening Israel's ability to protect its vital security assets.
   In its approach to the Palestinian track, the Third Way drew inspiration from the Allon Plan. In July 1995, it published a "Peace Map" that would see the overwhelming majority of Jewish settlers in the West Bank incorporated into three major geographic blocs that would then be annexed by Israel. Control of the balance of the West Bank (about 51 percent) and its Arab population would be transferred to the Palestinian autonomous areas. Jewish settlers remaining outside of areas annexed by Israel would be given the option of relocating to one of the settlement blocs or remaining in areas administered by the Palestinian Authority but protected by the extraterritorial application of Israeli law. As part of the government, the Third Way also adopted a centrist position on the contentious "Who Is a Jew" debate. It failed to win a seat in the 1999 Knesset election and dissolved.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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