Israeli lawmakers angered by secrecy of talks with Palestinians

Sunday, May 18, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Fifteen members of the Israeli Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee demanded on Sunday that the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stop bypassing democratic mechanisms and start allowing parliamentary oversight of negotiations with the Palestinians.

In a scathing letter presented to committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi, the committee members noted that the existence and future of Israel is being put on the negotiating table and the people's elected representatives are being given no say in the proceedings.

The letter was signed by a number of opposition lawmakers who are not members of the committee.

Hanegbi, a close confidante of Olmert, defended the behavior of the prime minister and of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, insisting in remarks carried by The Jerusalem Post that it is right to keep talks with the Palestinians secret, otherwise objections over the concessions being offered would bring the so-called "peace" process to a standstill.

Hanegbi said that was the same reason the original Oslo Accords and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan were never brought before the committee.

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