Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Livni told me not to accept Olmert peace plan, Condleezza Rice says in memoir

Israel Hayom Staff

Citing an advance copy of former U.S. secretary of state's new book "No Higher Honor," Newsweek magazine reports that then Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged the White House not to pursue "an extraordinary offer" Olmert made to Abbas, as the former "has no standing in Israel." A "historic peace deal" between Israel and the Palestinians was close at hand in 2007, but then Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged the U.S. administration not to pursue the deal as then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "has no standing in Israel," former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claims in her new book "No Higher Honor."

The revelation was made by Newsweek magazine, which reported on the story Tuesday citing an advance copy of the book.

Rice said Olmert was prepared to make Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "an extraordinary offer."

"I’ll give him enough land, maybe something like 94 percent with swaps. I have an idea about Jerusalem. There will be two capitals, one for us in West Jerusalem and one for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. The mayor of the joint city council will be selected by population percentage. That means an Israeli mayor, so the deputy should be a Palestinian. We will continue to provide security for the holy sites because we can assure access to them,” Olmert said, according to Rice's memoir.

“I’ll accept some Palestinians into Israel, maybe 5,000. I don’t want it to be called family reunification because they have too many cousins; we won’t be able to control it. I’ve been thinking about how to administer the Old City. There should be a committee of people, not officials but wise people, from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinians, the United States, and Israel. They will oversee the city but not in a political role," Olmert continued.

Calling her senior adviser Stephen Hadley, Rice said, "'Tell the president he was right about Olmert. He wants a deal. And frankly, he might die trying to get one,' I said, recalling that Yitzhak Rabin had been killed for offering far less. I hung up the phone and looked out my window at the holy city. Maybe, just maybe, we could get this done."

Rice said the Olmert proposal "haunted the president and me."

"In September the prime minister had given Abbas a map outlining the territory of a Palestinian state. Israel would annex 6.3 percent of the West Bank. (Olmert gave Abbas cause to believe that he was willing to reduce that number to 5.8 percent.) All of the other elements were still on the table, including the division of Jerusalem. Olmert had insisted that Abbas sign then and there. When the Palestinian had demurred, wanting to consult his experts before signing, Olmert refused to give him the map. The Israeli leader told me that he and Abbas had agreed to convene their experts the next day. Apparently that meeting never took place," Rice wrote.

Rice continued: "Olmert had announced in the summer that he would step down as prime minister. Israel would hold elections in the first part of the next year. He was a lame duck, and so was the president. Still, I worried that there might never be another chance like this one. Tzipi Livni urged me (and, I believe, Abbas) not to enshrine the Olmert proposal. 'He has no standing in Israel,' she said."

In any case, Abbas refused two further U.S. attempts to get him to sign onto the Olmert plan, Rice wrote.

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