'I didn't ask US, PA to wait for Livni'

Kadima council chairman Ramon stresses peace deal needed urgently.

Kadima council chairman Haim Ramon on Monday denied recent reports in the Hebrew press that he had told senior American and Palestinian officials not to reach a peace agreement with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and to wait instead to make a deal with opposition leader Tzipi Livni.
Yediot Aharonot senior columnist Nahum Barnea reported Friday that Ramon met recently at a north Tel Aviv restaurant with the head of the Middle East desk on US President Barack Obama’s national security council, Dan Shapiro, and told him that Livni would be “easier to deal with” than Netanyahu.
Ramon told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that not only was the story not true, it also did not make sense to him.
“The elections are in three years, and we need a peace deal urgently,” Ramon said.
But a source who spoke to Ramon said he believed the election could be expedited if the Americans presented a plan to bridge the Israeli and Palestinian sides, and Netanyahu rejected it.
The story originally broke in Yisrael Hayom two months ago and was denied vigorously at the time. Among the Palestinian officials with whom Ramon was reported to have met were Muhammad Dahlan and Saeb Erekat.
A minister close to Netanyahu said that the Prime Minister’s Office had known about Ramon’s meeting with the Palestinians from both American and Palestinian sources.
While one source close to Netanyahu called Ramon’s meetings “extremely problematic,” another said there was no problem with them. The source said it was no different than Netanyahu meeting Republican leaders in Washington.
Kadima MKs expressed outrage at the reports, with MK Eli Aflalo calling such behavior “shameful.”
Livni’s associates said she did not believe the reports and that she would continue encouraging Netanyahu’s proximity talks with the Palestinians both publicly and privately.