Labor Party Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and four other Labor faction members asked the Knesset's House Committee to convene an urgent meeting Monday to discuss their request to split from the party.
Barak plans to set up a new faction with Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, Deputy Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Orit Noked and Knesset Member Einat Wilf.
Barak told a press conference at the Knesset on Monday morning that the new faction will be named Independence. "This isn't an easy move, even for me. (Former Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon did the same, (former Prime Minister David) Ben-Gurion did the same, and (President Shimon) Peres did the same," he said.
"We are setting up a faction, a movement and later on a party, which will be Zionist, central and democratic, and will follow David Ben-Gurion's legacy, Then comes the party and then come we, The motto will be what is good for the State of Israel."
"We are facing difficult challenges, focusing on the peace process with the Palestinians, security-related and economic and social challenges. We are ready and willing to deal with all these challenges".
"We are leaving a party and a home we like and respect… Many of its members have experienced over the years the difficulties of daily life and the ongoing and unhealthy situation in the Labor Party, and they too were victims of the ongoing squabbles, the troubling drift to the left."
"We've reached the conclusion that this anomaly in political life, this reality, must stop. We should be able to get up for work every morning without having to compromise all the time. We are part of political life in order to work, influence, and we plan to focus on that. This is the time to take action, and we're doing that today."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Defense Minister Ehud Barak's split from the Labour Party has strengthened Israel's governing coalition.
"The government has grown much stronger today, in its governance, in its stability -- and this is important for Israel."
"The whole world knows, and the Palestinians know, that this government will be around for the next few years and that it is with this government that they should negotiate for peace."
A senior aide to Netanyahu indicated earlier in the day that Barak's decision would allow the government to operate more smoothly. Netanyahu had been fully aware of Barak's decision, the aide told Israel Radio.
"Ultimately, this move is going to serve to stabilize the government and in so doing we hope to strengthen the peace process," said a member of Netanyahu's staff.
"There were people who were telling the Palestinian leadership that the Labour Party was about to bolt, that the coalition is unstable, that they can wait this government out," added the staff member, who asked not to be identified.
"Today's development shows that was not a correct analysis, and it is our genuine hope that the Palestinians will be returning to the negotiations soon and once those negotiations start we hope we can move forward towards a historic agreement."