Photo: Gil Yohanan
Ramon. 'Unfounded remarks'
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Livni. 'All core issues discussed'
Photo: Daniel Bar-On
Israeli and Palestinian representatives have reached an agreement to divide Jerusalem, the capital's municipal opposition leader Nir Barkat said Wednesday.
"(Vice Premier) Haim Ramon and the prime minister are deceiving Israel's citizens," Barkat added after exchanging letters with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on the negotiations with the Palestinians.
Barkat based his accusations on information from "senior sources" which he refused to reveal, claiming that Ramon and Palestinian tycoon Muhammad Rashid had agreed in secret talks on Jerusalem's division.
"Livni refuses to reveal the fundamental information she has, according to which there is a secret channel which is not being led by the Foreign Ministry. Knowing this makes her an accomplice in this political deceit, which is really aimed at dividing Jerusalem behind Israeli citizens' backs," said Barkat.
In his letter to Livni, Barkat wrote, "I was amazed to learn that a senior and official Palestinian source was quoted as saying that 'we can say that Israel is ready to pullout of all the Arab villages and neighborhoods in Jerusalem.'"
He went on to demand that "the secret agreements" be revealed or that denied.
"I would like to remind you that if this is true, it constitutes a complete deviation from Kadima's basic principles, a blatant violation of Basic Law: Jerusalem, a breach of the voter's trust and an undermining of the Knesset's sovereignty," he wrote.
'Groundless conspiracy theory'The foreign minister replied in a letter, "In Annapolis (peace conference) it was decided that Israel and the Palestinians would hold negotiations in which all the core issues would be discussed, with no exception," confirming that negotiations are being held on the Jerusalem issue, contrary to Prime Minister Ehud Olmer's remarks in Berlin that the Jerusalem issue would be postponed to the end of the process.
Livni noted in her letter that "the negotiations are being conducted according to an agreement between the parties, which states that until everything is agreed upon there will be no agreement, and that the contents will not be made public."
An official at Ramon's office said in response, "This is nonsense. These remarks are unfounded and nothing of this kind took place."
Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said in response to Barkat's claims, "This is a groundless conspiracy theory. The prime minister and the Palestinian president meet face to face and do not need anyone's mediation.
"The negotiations are being held in a responsible manner by the prime minister opposite the Palestinian Authority. There is no need for a secret channel, and therefore all attempts to invent secret chancels are doomed to fail."
Barkat's remarks joined voices from the coalition by members of the Shas faction, who threatened to quit the government once negotiations on Jerusalem are launched.
Last week, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai called on the government to cease the negotiations with the Palestinians following the terror attack in Dimona.