Will Roni Milo be candidate of secular, centrist party

JERUSALEM — A new, secular, centrist party believed to be affiliated with Tel Aviv Mayor Roni Milo has announced its intentions to run in the next general elections.

The party, calling itself Atid, Hebrew for future, submitted founding papers to the political party registrar this week.

Milo, a member of the Likud Party, did not appear among the 140 people signed on to the party's founding paper or constitution.

However, speculation loomed that Milo might run as the party's prime ministerial candidate in the next general elections against his current Likud colleague, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A relative moderate, Milo was among a group of senior Likud members who have been critical of Netanyahu's leadership.

At a conference of mayors this week, Milo did not rule out any future association with Atid.

"It is true that to date I am not a member of the new, centrist Atid," he said. "What will be in the future, only `the future' knows."

The new party's constitution contains clauses supporting:

*Israel as a democratic state with equal rights for all citizens.

*The importance of law and freedom of conscience.

*Deepening the link between the Israeli people and the homeland.

*Deepening the ties between Israelis and the Jewish diaspora.

*Support for peace, with security.

*Improving the status of impoverished areas.