haim ramon hand on head.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a witness to listen in on Kadima council
chairman Haim Ramon’s July 8 conversation with Palestinian Authority
negotiations chief Saeb Erekat at the capital’s American Colony Hotel, Ramon
charged on Sunday.
An unidentified witness to Ramon and Erekat’s
conversation, who was said to have sat close by, told Israel Radio anchor Ayala
Hasson on Thursday that Ramon had advised Erekat not to have the Palestinians
enter direct talks with Israel.
'Kadima chair to PA: No direct talks'
Arab League endorses direct talks
Ramon denied this in an interview with
Israel Radio’s Yaron Deckel on Sunday and pointed fingers at Netanyahu, who told
the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense committee last Monday that politicians
on the Left were “systematically sabotaging the start of talks with the
When MKs asked Netanyahu whom he was referring to, he
joked he could only tell the committee’s intelligence subcommittee.
is [the anonymous witness] afraid of?” Ramon asked. “It might be, and there are
rumors that attest to this, that he is connected directly or indirectly to the
Prime Minister’s Office...
[Netanyahu] himself said there are Israelis
who are harming the diplomatic process. Using sensitive intelligence information
to try to get a political advantage is a crime.”
Ramon said that two of
the witness’s statements harmed his credibility. The first was his claim that
President Shimon Peres had sent Ramon to harm the diplomatic process. The second
was his report that former Balad MK Azmi Bishara, who is wanted in Israel for
helping Hamas during the Second Lebanon War, called Erekat during the
conversation with Ramon.
“Everyone knows Peres would never harm peace and
that the Palestinian Authority’s leadership detests Bishara,” Ramon
When asked whether he indeed advised Erekat not to enter talks,
Ramon responded that he supported direct talks on the issues of borders and
security, but not yet on more sensitive issues like Jerusalem and
He claimed to have said the same things in private talks with
Palestinian leaders and open interviews on the radio.
“I told Erekat to
negotiate,” Ramon said. “But I said that if Netanyahu doesn’t adopt any
[historical] terms of reference, nothing will come out of these
Netanyahu wants to keep the status quo while putting on a show. He
doesn’t intend to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians.”
responded by accusing Ramon of “stooping to a new low in chutzpa and political
undermining,” and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni of complacency in Ramon’s actions by
not condemning or firing him.
They noted that Yediot Aharonot
May that Ramon had told American National Security Council Middle East desk head
Dan Shapiro not to bother with Netanyahu and to wait for Livni to come to
“On one hand Livni, Ramon and Kadima complain that there is no
diplomatic process, but on the other Ramon is systematically trying to sabotage
the peace process for narrow political gain,” the Likud said.