FM denies involvement in 'concessions'

Olmert reportedly told US envoy he and Livni agreed to split J'lem, uproot 60,000 Jews from their homes.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 29, 2009 23:42
2 minute read.
FM denies involvement in 'concessions'

livni abbas shake hands 248.88. (photo credit: GPO [file])

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni suffered a blow from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday when Yediot Aharonot revealed concessions that he and Livni allegedly made to the Palestinians. According to the report, Olmert told US envoy George Mitchell that he and Livni agreed to divide Jerusalem, maintain only settlement blocs in the West Bank and uproot 60,000 Jews from their homes. The revelations of the concessions less than two weeks before the February 10 election reportedly upset Livni, who told confidants that she believed Olmert, her predecessor as Kadima leader, was purposely harming her. In a speech to Tel Aviv-Jaffa College students, Livni denied that Olmert was speaking for her when he talked to Mitchell. "The headline does not represent me or what I am advancing," she said. "I will only advance an agreement that represents our interests of maintaining a maximum of [West Bank Jewish] residents, keeping places that are important to us especially in Jerusalem, and not allowing the return of a single refugee." "Everyone knows that Olmert doesn't represent anyone but himself," a source close to Livni added. Olmert's associates denied any intention of harming Livni and said they were not behind the leak to the newspaper. "Any attempt to accuse the prime minister of purposely harming [Livni's campaign] is baseless and wicked," a source close to Olmert said. "The prime minister met with Kadima leaders on Sunday and said that he was ready to help with anything they wanted. I don't know of any request received from them since then." Livni's opponent in the election, Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, said he would not feel obligated by any of Olmert's commitments if he won the race for prime minister. He accused Livni of secretly making dangerous concessions to the Palestinians. "She said she was a partner to all the decisions made by the Kadima government," Netanyahu told Army Radio. "Now we see what she decided and what she conceded." Netanyahu vowed to not uproot any Jews from their homes if elected. The Likud faction initiated a special Knesset session next week to discuss the report. The opposition leader also denied an allegation from Livni that he had already concluded a coalition deal with Shas. Kadima decided on Thursday against announcing that it had no plans to invite Shas to join a Kadima-led coalition. "She practically begged Shas to join the coalition before, so no one should believe her now," Netanyahu said. "Livni sat in a coalition with Shas and didn't leave. She is sitting in a coalition with Shas now and not leaving, and I am sure she will sit with them again. The only reason she didn't reach a deal with them was because she intended to divide Jerusalem, which we see proven in the paper today," he said. Netanyahu formally rejected Livni's offer of a debate on Thursday when he said that "the real debate will happen at the ballot box." In the closest thing to a debate to happen in this election, Livni, Netanyahu and Barak will come to the Channel 2 studio on Saturday night to answer questions submitted to them on Youtube. The questions were selected by the public among 250 submitted to the Web site. A poll broadcast Wednesday on Channel 2 found that the gap between Netanyahu and Livni was 12 seats. Another poll broadcast the same night on Channel 10 put it at just three seats. A third poll on Israel Radio on Thursday predicted a nine-mandate victory for the Likud.


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