In The Times: The secret life of Tzipi Livni: How the woman set to be Israel’s new leader earned her spurs as an agent working for a covert cell in an elite spy unit

Ms Livni, a fluent French speaker and daughter of renowned Zionist guerrillas, served her time in Paris when the city was a deadly battle-ground in Mossad’s covert war with Palestinian militant groups and Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions.

One Israeli former intelligence source told The Times that the 22-year-old Ms Livni had been recruited into Mossad after her National Service by a childhood friend, Mira Gal, who herself served for two decades in the agency and who now works as her ministry bureau chief.

Like many recruits, the source said, she would have started out with so-called “student jobs”, mostly maintaining safe houses that were used by hit squads and more senior agents on assignment across Europe. Mr Halevy said that even such a rookie job was not without its risks.

“I’m not saying she was a caretaker of safe houses but people think that being a caretaker is a simple and mundane job which entails no risk,” the English-born former spymaster told The Times. “People who say that don’t know what safe houses are about. It can be very dangerous at times.”

Ohmigod she’s totally Nicky! She was the early-twenties “student” running “safe houses” in “Paris” and everything! That’s so cool! But how did Ludlum know?!