Ramon claims to be victim of PM's sting

Kadima MK alleges PMO planted witness at his meeting with Erekat.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
August 1, 2010 15:51
haim ramon hand on head 298

haim ramon hand on head. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a witness to listen to his July 8 conversation with Palestinian Authority negotiations chief Saeb Erekat at Jerusalem's American Colony Hotel, Kadima council chairman Haim Ramon alleged Sunday.

An unidentified witness to Ramon and Erekat's conversation told Israel Radio anchor Ayala Hasson on Thursday that Ramon advised Erekat not to have the Palestinians enter direct talks with Israel.

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a witness to listen to his July 8 conversation with Palestinian Authority negotiations chief Saeb Erekat at Jerusalem's American Colony Hotel, Kadima council chairman Haim Ramon alleged Sunday.

An unidentified witness to Ramon and Erekat's conversation told Israel Radio anchor Ayala Hasson on Thursday that Ramon advised Erekat not to have the Palestinians enter direct talks with Israel.

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 Palestinians." When MKs asked Netanyahu whom he was referring to, he joked he could only tell the committee's intelligence subcommittee .

"What 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 sent Ramon to harm the diplomatic process. The second was his report that former MK Azmi Bishara, who is wanted in Israel for assisting 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 said.

Ramon and Likud trade accusations over peace talks

When asked whether he indeed advised Erekat not to enter talks, he responded that he supported direct talks on the issues of borders and security, but not yet on more sensitive issues like Jerusalem and refugees. He stressed that he 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 talks. Netanyahu wants to keep the status quo while putting on a show. He doesn't intend to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians."

The Likud responded by accusing Ramon of "stooping to a new low in chutzpah and political undermining" and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni of complacency towards Ramon's act by not condemning or firing him. They noted that Yediot Aharonot reported in 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.

"On one hand Livni, Ramon and Kadima complain that there is no diplomatic process, but on the other hand Ramon is systematically trying to harm the sabotage the peace process for narrow political gain."

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 Palestinians." When MKs asked Netanyahu whom he was referring to, he joked he could only tell the committee's intelligence subcommittee .

"What 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 sent Ramon to harm the diplomatic process. The second was his report that former MK Azmi Bishara, who is wanted in Israel for assisting 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 said.

When asked whether he indeed advised Erekat not to enter talks, he responded that he supported direct talks on the issues of borders and security, but not yet on more sensitive issues like Jerusalem and refugees. He stressed that he 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 talks. Netanyahu wants to keep the status quo while putting on a show. He doesn't intend to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians."

The Likud responded by accusing Ramon of "stooping to a new low in chutzpah and political undermining" and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni of complacency towards Ramon's act by not condemning or firing him. They noted that Yediot Aharonot reported in 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.

"On one hand Livni, Ramon and Kadima complain that there is no diplomatic process, but on the other hand Ramon is systematically trying to harm the sabotage the peace process for narrow political gain."

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