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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
When Tzipi Livni was foreign minister, she warned the Palestinian Authority not to accept a deal offered by then-prime minister Ehud Olmert, former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said on Thursday morning.
In a discussion at President Shimon Peres's 'Facing Tomorrow' Presidential Conference 2009 in Jerusalem, Indyk said that the Palestinians should not be blamed for rejecting Olmert's peace offer, because of his unstable political situation at the time, Army Radio reported.
Later in the day, Indyk clarified that he was not in the room when the incident took place.
"I was not present at the negotiating table but heard accounts from several sources," Indyk said in a statement quoted by Army Radio. "I don't believe Livni insinuated to the Palestinians that their situation would improve if they rejected Olmert's offer," the former US ambassador to Israel reportedly said.
When asked by Channel 2 reporter Udi Segal, who was hosting the panel, whether the Palestinians missed an opportunity when they rejected Olmert's proposal, Indyk had reportedly replied that "the prime minister was about to have an indictment filed against him and the foreign minister herself specifically told both the Americans and the Palestinians: Don't you dare sign the agreement."
Livni denied the report, saying that she was not involved in the contacts between Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"When the Israeli offer was made public, I publicly announced that I did not support it," Army Radio quoted her as saying. "I had no need to speak behind Olmert's back."
Livni reportedly stressed that she was opposed to Olmert's proposed peace plan because it called for the return of thousands of Palestinian refugees to the country, and would lead to an international force gaining control over Jerusalem's Old City.
It is noteworthy that Indyk, who was the US ambassador to Israel in 1995-1997 and 2000-2001, did not hold an official post in the administration of former US president George W. Bush, during Livni's term as foreign minister.