Israeli FM Denies Making Concessions

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - With national elections 11 days away, Foreign Minister and Kadima party chairwoman Tzipi Livni continues trying to distance herself from outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Olmert told the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot that he and Livni had made concessions to the Palestinian Authority.

According to the article in Thursday's paper, Olmert told US Middle East envoy George Mitchell that he and Livni agreed to cede all of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), outside of a major settlement blocs, and divide the nation's capital, Jerusalem.

Livni aides said Olmert's remarks were meant to hurt her bid for the premiership.

"The headline does not represent me or what I am advancing," Livni told a group of students at Tel Aviv Academic College.

"I will only advance an agreement that represents our interests of maintaining a maximum of residents [in Judea and Samaria], keeping places that are important to us, especially in Jerusalem; and not allowing the return [to Israel proper] of a single [Palestinian] refugee," she said.

"Everyone knows that Olmert doesn't represent anyone but himself," a Livni confident said, according to Jerusalem Post political analyst Gil Hoffman.

Olmert's aides, meanwhile, said they did not leak the story to the newspaper nor did the prime minister intend to harm Livni's bid for the premiership.

"Any attempt to accuse the prime minister of purposely harming [Livni's campaign] is baseless and wicked," an aide to Olmert said.

"The prime minister met with Kadima leaders on Sunday and said he was ready to help with anything they wanted. I don't know of any request received from then since," the aide said.

Meanwhile, Likud chairman and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu said Livni can't have it both ways.

"She said she was a partner to all decisions made by the Kadima government," Netanyahu told Army Radio. "Now we see what she decided and what she conceded," he said.

"Livni simply gave up Jerusalem," the Likud chairman said.

Netanyahu, who continues to lead in the polls, said he would not be bound by any of the previous government's concessions.

While he would like to form a unity government, those who join would have to agree that Jerusalem would not be parceled out nor would Israel return to its pre-1967 borders.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, YNet news

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