New Party Launched

The Liberal Center, a new political party concerned with the problems of middle class Israelis and supportive of compromise for peace, was officially launched today by disaffected former members of the Liberal Party wing of Likud.

The Liberal Center is headed by Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lehat; Leon Dulzin, chairman of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency Executives; Yitzhak Berman, a former Cabinet Minister and Knesset Speaker; and Yehezkel Harmelech. They outlined their political credo at a press conference here. Dulzin said the new party would demand its share of Liberal Party funds and property and would go to court if necessary to obtain them.

The new party was formed, its founders said, because of the Liberal Party’s drift toward merger with the rightwing Herut, its Likud partner. Lehat said it would speak for a constituency made up of middle class wage-earners and private entrepreneurs. Its domestic program will call for reductions in the size and budgets of the national and local governments and lower taxes, particularly income tax.

PARTY BELIEVES IN COMPROMISES

On foreign policy, Lehat said, “We are a party which believes in compromises and we are ready to negotiate to try to achieve peace.” The party also supports religious pluralism. “We believe that all the different lines and streams in Judaism are equal.” he said. “We believe that for the future benefit of Israel we should have a (American-style) Presidential government,” Lehat added. Asked which way the new party would go if it held the balance of power between Labor and Likud, Lehat replied, “Today, in the present political reality, I believe the Labor Alignment.”

The fledgling party hopes to attract voters from the Likud Liberals and the more centrist members of Herut as well as independents who are disillusioned with Likud but are not prepared to vote Labor.

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