Yossi Verter
Haaretz (Analysis)
October 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's autobiography indicates that former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni undermined a potential peace agreement with the Palestinians during Ehud Olmert's term as prime minister, according to a senior Kadima source.

Two and a half years after ending their troubled relationship as prime minister and foreign minister, tensions have again flared between Olmert and Livni.

Rice's memoir, "No Higher Honor," will be published in the United States in the next few days. Extracts of the autobiography have already been published in the American media and on Haaretz's Internet site by Natasha Mozgovaya last week.

In one part, Rice writes that Livni told her not to be too impressed by Olmert's far-reaching proposal to the Palestinians since "he has no standing in Israel." Rice writes that it seemed to her that Livni had said similar things to the Palestinian side.

A senior Kadima source who read the two extracts said they indicate Livni had acted behind Olmert's back to undermine a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

The source said Livni made it clear to her interlocutors that Olmert, who was nearing the end of his tenure due to criminal investigations against him, had no public standing or the political ability to clinch such a far-reaching agreement in the cabinet and Knesset. She advised them to wait until she took over from him.

Officials and diplomats familiar with the feverish negotiations between November 2007, when the Annapolis conference was held, and December 2008, near the end of Olmert's government, told Haaretz on Thursday that Olmert's proposal was comprehensive, serious and thorough. They said the proposal, which has been published several times since then, was the result of dozens of meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Livni, who conducted talks with Palestinian official Abu Ala, was not aware of all the details of Olmert's proposal.

Olmert briefed President George W. Bush and Rice on the details of his proposal, which included giving Jerusalem an international status and bringing around 5,000 Palestinian refugees into Israel.

When Livni learned of the proposal, from a Haaretz report in September 2008, she spoke out publicly against international control of the Old City and the return of a few thousand refugees to Israel.

Rice says in her book that Livni had urged her at their meetings not to accept Olmert's proposal.

On Thursday, Livni's bureau denied the statements she allegedly made. "When the proposal's details were reported by the media, American officials - I don't remember if it was Rice or somebody else - asked Livni for her opinion. Livni, faithful to her way of saying the same in private and in public, objected to returning refugees and to giving Jerusalem an international status," an aide said.

Livni's associates said that after Olmert had announced his resignation American officials, including Rice, asked many questions about his political status. This was one of the subjects Livni and Rice discussed.

Olmert's spokesman said: "The former prime minister did not know of any approach on Livni's part to the American administration or the Palestinians to foil reaching an agreement with the Palestinians. Olmert was surprised to read about it in recent reports about Rice's autobiography."


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