Israeli leader agreed to secretly cede territory to Palestinians

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Jerusalem, Feb.3 (ANI): Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman conducted a secret dialogue with Palestinian negotiators at the end of the Clinton administration, according to a new book by former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk.

Indyk, who also served as the US State Department's Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs during that administration, said Palestinian negotiator Muhammad Rachid had secured Lieberman's support for then-prime minister Ehud Barak's plan for territorial compromise with the Palestinians, as well as current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's agreement to give up Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Indyk did not indicate whether he believed Rachid's claims or write about the response Lieberman or Olmert had to them, but said that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's reliance on the information was part of what led him to believe he didn't need to make a deal with Barak at Camp David since the Israeli right would also make the same concessions.The story is part of Indyk's lengthy new book on America's efforts to forge a peace between Israelis and Palestinians, titled Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East. Lieberman's spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Indyk at several points expresses understanding for the steps taken by Barak, who pushed hard for a peace deal at Camp David and Taba in the final days of former US President Bill Clinton's term - and what turned out to be his own. Throughout the book, Indyk backs up many of Israel's perspectives on the process, most notably blaming Arafat for the failure of a peace deal.

Indyk is only the latest in a line of American peace brokers to level such charges against Arafat; near the beginning of the book he quotes Clinton using much harsher language to the same end.

Briefing incoming US Secretary of State Colin Powell on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Clinton had unleashed a tirade, according to Indyk.

"Don't you ever trust that son of a bitch? He lied to me and he'll lie to you. Don't let Arafat sucker punch you like he did me," he told Powell.

Though largely sobering in its record of missed opportunities and bitter lessons for the Obama administration to apply, the book also includes some amusing anecdotes, as when US officials developed a protocol to keep Arafat from moving in for his traditional kiss during the handshake on the White House lawn during the Oslo signing - then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin had ruled out any such display. (ANI)

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