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CNN Today

Israeli-Syrian Peace Talks Hit Snag

Aired January 17, 2000 - 4:15 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: This week's third round of high-level Israeli-Syrian peace talks in the United States has been postponed. Instead, Israel and Syria are sending teams of experts to meet with U.S. officials. But high-level Israeli-Palestinian talks between Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the chairman, Yasser Arafat, reportedly resumed today in an undisclosed location.

The two developments coming on a day that saw more violence allegedly from those opposed to Mideast Peace efforts.

Here's CNN's Jerrold Kessel.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Several of those hurt were elderly people who had been enjoying the midwinter sunshine in the small park where the bomb exploded in a litter bin: a relatively unsophisticated device, police say. A pipe bomb: explosives wrapped in metal sheets or a strip of lead piping.

As emergency services and police explosive experts went into action to search for more bombs that might have been planted, Israeli officials were blaming opponents of Middle East peace moves: Israel's prime minister adamant those opponents won't succeed.

EHUD BARAK, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: It's a very severe event. We are determined to correct the terror, and I'm confident that we will put our hand in due time on the terrorists.

KESSEL: Hadera is on the Mediterranean coast north of Tel Aviv and close to Israel's border with the West Bank. In the midst of the mayhem one man is anxiously questioned whether he'd noticed anybody lay the bomb or act suspiciously. He could provide little real help.

A few irate Israelis chanted for a return to power of Mr. Barak's right-wing predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The attack came as Mr. Barak was handling a brewing crisis in the peace talks with Syria, which had been set to resume on Wednesday in the United States. A commentary on Syrian state radio said Syria was demanding an Israeli undertaking to draw the Golan Heights border at the June 4th, 1967 lines. That's the cease-fire line before Israel occupied the strategic plateau. And the radio continued: "Any Israeli refusal to give such a commitment would prevent any progress and make a new round of talks useless."

Mr. Barak seemed unruffled. But after he met with the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, who'd just come from Syria, his office confirmed that the United States, which had been in touch with Damascus all day, had informed Israel that the talks were off indefinitely.

(on camera): And this latest uncertainty has Israeli officials wondering whether Syria is engaged in a negotiating ploy or whether this is the start of a serious crisis for the peace talk.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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