A split has emerged in Israel’s once-dominant centre-left political movement.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak has broken away from the Labour party.
Barak had been facing pressure within Labour to get Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-leaning government to move faster towards a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
He also faced a future party leadership challenge.
Barak’s move is being described as a surprise, but observers say there does not seem to be a danger of the coalition government collapsing.
He will reportedly take four of the party’s 13 MPs with him into a new faction called Atzmaut, which means independence in English.
Barak was the main architect of Israel’s offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, as defence minister in the government of Ehud Olmert.