JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's Labor Party voters have lined up behind their moderate candidate for prime minister, fielding a slate of Knesset candidates led by one of his staunchest supporters.
Amram Mitzna, the Labor Party's prime minister candidate, has promised to restart peace talks immediately with the Palestinians, and the triumph of his supporters in Monday's primary is significant because the Labor Party is shaping up to offer Israeli voters a clear alternative to the policies of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The center-left slate also means Sharon will have more trouble putting together a new unity government if he is re-elected.
After Sharon won a landslide election in 2001, he persuaded Labor to join a unity government that held together until October, when Labor bolted in a budget dispute.
Sharon, who has a wide lead in the polls, has said he wants to create a new unity government if he wins, but Mitzna has said he will not allow Labor to join. Labor's dovish slate of Knesset candidates means its faction in parliament would be less likely to cooperate with Sharon.
Sharon suffered a setback earlier this week when his Likud party central committee put together a slate of Knesset candidates who oppose his stand on the creation of a Palestinian state.
Sharon has said that -- with significant qualifications -- he is willing to go along with U.S. President Bush's road map for the creation of a Palestinian state. His foreign minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, whose supporters won at least 10 key slots on the Likud candidate slate, opposes the Bush plan.
Israeli voters will go to the polls January 28 to choose a new prime minister and Knesset.
In Monday's voting among 111,000 Labor Party members, the top vote-getter was Matan Vilnai, a key Mitzna backer and former Science, Culture and Sport minister in the Israeli government.