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Tzipi Livni will lead Israel’s negotiators at next month’s U.S.-sponsored peace conference.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday named Livni, his foreign minister, as chief negotiator at the parley on Palestinian statehood, a move seen as a snub to Vice Premier Haim Ramon.

Ramon drew flak recently by broaching the division of Jerusalem under a peace accord with the Palestinians, a proposal on which Olmert had no comment.

Addressing his Cabinet, Olmert said he had decided that the top Israeli negotiator should be a senior government official since the Palestinian team is led by Ahmed Qurei, who was prime minister under the late Yasser Arafat.

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