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At Least Two Killed, More Than 250 Wounded in Worst Israeli- Palestinian Violence in Four Years

Aired May 15, 2000 - 2:13 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: More gun battles today in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At least two people were killed, more than 250 wounded in the worst Israeli-Palestinian violence in four years. It happened despite an Israeli cabinet decision to hand over three villages to Palestinian control.

It's late evening now in Jerusalem. CNN senior international correspondent Mike Hanna joins us.

What's happening, Mike?

MIKE HANNA, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, violence, escalating violence in the West Bank and in Gaza Strip, and deep dissension within Israel's Knesset or parliament.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak took on the right-wing elements within the parliament and, indeed, within his own governing coalition by introducing a controversial proposal to hand over three villages on the outskirts of Jerusalem to full Palestinian control. This has been a matter that's been on the table for a number of weeks, but Mr. Barak took the plunge on the first day of the Knesset sitting after its summer break, and he managed to have the motion pass by a narrow margin, defeating, effectively, the right-wing elements within the Knesset.

It was a gamble in one way, but on the Palestinian side it's not likely to be seen as much more than a good will gesture at best. Certainly, Palestine continues to insist that a bottom-line position in its negotiating position is that East Jerusalem at least would be part of the Palestinian Authority and it would not countenance being given some other region on the outskirts of Jerusalem to replace this.

Well, the debates in the Knesset took place against a background of escalating violence in the West Bank. In the West Bank town of Ramallah in particular, there was severe conflict, this time between Palestinian police and Israeli soldiers, the first time that such a conflict has happened in a number of years. As many as 300 Palestinians were injured in this and a number of other clashes, and several Israeli soldiers were injured as well.

So, at the end of the day, the peace process does remain on track. The sides are still talking to each other. However, the violence throughout Palestinian-controlled territory in the course of the day has placed severe pressure on the entire process -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Mike Hanna in Jerusalem.

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