Breakaway centrist parties fare poorly historically

If history is any indication Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faces a difficult task in trying to emerge victorious in Knesset elections after forming a new party. Rafi Formed in 1965 by former prime minister David Ben Gurion, after he and a number of other Mapai members split with his successor Levi Eshkol over the Lavon affair. Among the leaders of the new party were Shimon Peres and Moshe Dayan, who had been implicated (they claimed unfairly) in the Lavon affair and were upset by Mapai's failure to support them. The new party hoped to displace Mapai as Israel's leading party, however, the party only won 10 seats in the 1965 elections to the Knesset on a platform calling for electoral reform. In 1967, Rafi joined the national unity government that h ad been formed due to the Six Day War. The next year, Rafi reconciled with Mapai to form the Labor Alignment. Democratic Movement for Change A party made up of former members of the Labor and Likud, the party was formed in 1977 in preparation for the n inth Knesset. Led by Prof. Yigal Yadin the party's stated purpose was to introduce an Israeli constitution. Part of Begin's government in the ninth Knesset, the party quickly dissolved into splinter groups and eventually ceased to exist. Movement for National Renewal (Telem) Established in 1980 by Moshe Dayan and two other MKs who broke off from the Likud. The group won three seats in the tenth Knesset but when Dayan died shortly thereafter, the party split and disappeared. Tsomet Started by former IDF Chief-of-Staff Rafael Eitan in 1983, Tsomet focused on ending corruption in government, grassroots activism, and security issues. The party was represented in multiple Knessets over the course of 15 years until 1999, reaching its peak in the thirteenth Kn esset in 1992, when it won eight seats. Yahad Not to be confused with the left-wing party whose name was changed from Meretz that exists today, this party was formed in 1984 by former Likud MK and later president Ezer Weizman. Shortly after the e lections in 1984, in which the group won three seats, the party joined the Alignment and became another part of the Labor party. Gesher Established in 1996 by MKs David Levy and David Magen towards the end of the thirteenth Knesset after they lef t the Likud. An ethnic Moroccan party in the elections to the 14th Knesset, it ran in a single list with the Likud and Tsomet and was represented in the Knesset by four members. In the elections to the 15th Knesset, Geshe ran in a single list with Labor a nd Meimad, known as One Israel. David Levy ran for the sixteenth Knesset within the Likud. One Nation Established in 1996, a social-welfare party led by MK Amir Peretz, who had broken off from the Labor Party. The party was represented by three M Ks in the fourteenth and sixteenth Knessets, and two in the fifteenth. Peretz, who was also chairman of the Histadrut labor union, eventually brought the party back to Labor in 2004. One year later, he stood as the newly elected chairman of the Labor Part y. Center Party A centrist party formed in 1999 by members who had left the Likud, including former defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai and Dan Meridor and former IDF Chief-of-Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, but which was joined by several former membe rs of the Labor Party and new figures in Israeli politics. In the May 1999 elections, there were six MKs who were former members of Likud, Tsomet, Gesher, and Labor, who were candidates of the new party. The party slowly vanished, however, after the fifte enth