Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Thursday denied comments made by former US ambassador Martin Indyk that she warned the Palestinians during negotiations last year not to accept Ehud Olmert's offer that included some 94 percent of the West Bank territory, a land swap to make up for the rest, half of Jerusalem, the return of a symbolic number of refugees to within the Green Line, and international administration of the Temple Mount.
"I was not privy to the contacts between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and only after the proposal was published, I said publicly that I found it unacceptable," Livni told Army Radio.
She said she vehemently opposed the return of thousands of Palestinian refugees to Israel, and the transfer of Jerusalem's Old City to international administration.
"I said all of these things explicitly. I didn't have to talk behind Olmert's back," said Livni, who succeeded Olmert's as Kadima's leader.
On Wednesday, Indyk, formerly the US ambassador to Israel and currently the Brookings Institute's vice president for foreign policy, rejected the idea that Abbas turned down a generous offer made by Olmert, thereby proving the adage that the Palestinians "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."
"It wasn't exactly the great opportunity" that it has been presented, Indyk said of Olmert's offer during a panel discussion on Wednesday at the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. "The Israeli prime minister was under indictment at the time, the Israeli foreign minister [Livni] was negotiating with Abu Ala [former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei], and said specifically to the US and to Abu Ala don't dare do this deal."
Indyk said that Olmert's offer was a statement of principles, not backed up by the US, unlike the Clinton parameters that were American principles put forward in 2000.
On Thursday Indyk, who told The Jerusalem Post that his information was from a number of different sources, but it was third-hand information, toned down his comment.
"I was not present in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, but rather heard reports from different sources," he said in a statement. "From these reports I got the impression that the PA understood that then-foreign minister Livni preferred to focus on a serious, written and detailed agreement, instead of an agreement of principles based on negotiations between Olmert and Abbas."
Indyk said he did not believe that Livni hinted to the Palestinians that their situation would improve if they refused Olmert's offer.
In the waning days of Olmert's term in 2008, he was involved in intensive negotiations with Abbas to come up with an agreement in principle, even as Livni carried on with detailed and very secret negotiations with Qurei.
Indyk was ambassador to Israel in 1995-1997 and then again from 2000-2001, and had no official position when these negotiations took place.
Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>