`Olmert once made a secret offer to Palestine`
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Last Updated: Tuesday, November 01, 2011, 16:22
Washington: Former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said then Israeli premier Ehud Olmert made a secret offer in 2008 for a Palestinian state with holy sites under international control in a shared Jerusalem.

In excerpts from her new memoir "No Higher Honor," obtained by AFP from Crown Publishers yesterday, Rice wrote that she was astounded when Olmert aired his plan when she visited him at his home in Israel in May 2008.

It was, she observed, a dramatic hard-to-imagine development since then US president George W. Bush and Rice relaunched the peace process in Annapolis, Maryland the preceding November.

Rice wrote that Olmert would offer the Palestinians, under the leadership of Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, some 94 percent of the West Bank with land swaps to account for Israel's retaining key settlements.

There would be two capitals, one for Israel in West Jerusalem and one for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

There would be a joint city council with an Israeli mayor and a Palestinian deputy.

Olmert, she said, then offered to allow perhaps as many as 5,000 Palestinians to return to land that is now Israel.

And she said the Old City would be administered by a committee of "wise people" -- rather than officials -- from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority, the United States and Israel.

Rice recalled: "Am I really hearing this? I wondered. Is the Israeli prime minister saying that he'll divide Jerusalem and put an international body in charge of the holy sites."

She then said Israel wanted US help in obtaining a list of security demands, aspects of which he knew the Palestinians might have trouble accepting.


First Published: Tuesday, November 01, 2011, 16:22

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