A group of Palestinian politicians, business people and other key political players have been working in recent weeks on an initiative to form a new political movement that would not be affiliated with either Fatah or Hamas.

Several more prominent supporters of the idea are considered close to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad and PLO Executive Committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo.

On the eve of the last PA elections, in January 2006, Fayad, Hanan Ashrawi, Abed Rabbo and others formed a new party, called "The Third Way," but it won only two seats. With the possibility of new elections looming, the latest alternative incarnation would seek to capitalize on the negative images of both Fatah and Hamas among the Palestinian public.

Several gatherings were held in recent weeks in the West Bank to promote the movement. According to Jamal Zakut, a Fayad confidant and "Third Way" alumnus, hundreds of central figures support the initiative.

Zakut told Haaretz that many members of the major political organizations, independents and business people are distressed by the political breakdown between Hamas and Fatah, and see a real need for a new political-social movement "that will succeed in reaching the people."

"This movement would be based on liberal ideas and advancing democracy and human rights in the PA," said Zakut. "The idea is to have a pragmatic movement that would support the idea of two states on the basis of the 1967 borders and PLO platform, while resolving the refugee problem in an agreed-upon manner based on the resolutions of the United Nations and Arab League."

He also said that the recent events in the Gaza Strip had accelerated plans to establish the movement.

"If we are going to have elections, then a new movement is needed. At the moment, there are hundreds of people from the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem and even overseas who support the initiative. Fatah in its current state cannot lead a true reform process. The rivalry between Hamas and Fatah destroyed both movements."

PA Prisoner Affairs Minister Ashraf al-Ajrami, also a Fayad associate, told Haaretz that the new movement will be much bigger and broader than "The Third Way."

Fayad's own position on the matter remains unclear. While several of his people stressed that he supports the initiative, he himself was not available for comment.