In a new book, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice claims that an unprecedented Israeli peace offer to the Palestinians was opposed by Tzipi Livni, then Israel's foreign minister.

Livni, who has pushed the Netanyahu government to engage in peace talks with the Palestinians -- even while Ramallah undermines Israel internationally and campaigns for one state solution at home -- told Rice that Olmert's plan would fail because he had "no standing" in the Jewish state.

According to Rice, Livini went even further, urging Mahmoub Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, not to endorse the offer.

At the time, late 2008, Olmert had already announced he would resign from office due to a scandal that erupted over his involvement in the building of a large Jerusalem housing development. President George W. Bush, too, was a lame duck head of state, but Rice writes that she believed Olmert's offer had created conditions wherein peace was in reach.

According to the report in Newsweek, Olmert told Rice:

"Iíll 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,Ē Olmert said, according to Rice's memoir. ďIíll accept some Palestinians into Israel, maybe 5,000. I donít want it to be called family reunification because they have too many cousins; we wonít be able to control it.

Iíve 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.

Rice, who says the daring proposal "haunted" both Bush and herself, writes:

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."

Olmert ultimately presented the map of his newly configured state to Abbas, who never pursued the offer despite two further U.S. attempts.

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