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CNN Today

Middle East Peace Summit: Jerusalem Status the Sticking Point as Deadline Nears

Aired July 19, 2000 - 2:09 p.m. ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: President Clinton is putting in overtime hours in the Mideast peace summit. He was scheduled to leave today for an economic summit in Japan, but delayed that to give Israeli and Palestinian negotiators a chance to break their deadlock.

CNN's Andrea Koppel is covering the peace talks, she joins us live with more.

Hi, Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.

And it remains to with seen if President Clinton will succeed in breaking through that deadlock before his new deadline for departure, about 12 hours from now. One senior U.S. official described the talks right now as intense. You just have to take a look at the pictures the White House just released of the talks, just a short time ago, of President Clinton meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Barak and with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. President Clinton shuttling between these two men into the wee hours of the morning.

CNN confirming that Israeli Prime Minister Barak gave President Clinton a letter this morning, and while the White House wouldn't go into the details of that letter, Israeli press reports say that Barak blamed Chairman Arafat for not negotiating in good faith. Around the same time, Israeli sources saying that Prime Minister Barak was throwing down the gauntlet, saying that he was prepared to leave talks with his delegation this evening with or without an agreement.

But the White House says that they had had no indication or notification by Israeli delegation that Prime Minister Barak was planning to leave. That the summit is going on, in fact, President Clinton, after meeting with his advisers this morning, sat down for a one-on-one with Chairman Arafat.

As to whether or not the summit deadline, which is now midnight tonight, could be pushed back further, according to the White House spokesman Joe Lockhart, there is no reason to postpone it any further.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't believe it's a question of providing unlimited time as finding a way to a solution of these issues. They're well-known. The parties' positions are well-known to each other. It's a question of whether the parties are going to be willing to step up and take the difficult decisions for peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOPPEL: At issue, one of the key sticking points, the future of Jerusalem. The Palestinians hoping to get a piece of Jerusalem, Arab East Jerusalem, as their future capital of the Palestinian state. Israel holding firm to its long standing position that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel.

Now having said that, Kyra, it remains to be seen whether or not what we've heard this morning coming out of the Israeli side, as to whether or not that is posturing, positioning for the either future success or failure of this summit, if in fact its brinkmanship, or if there is really an impasse at hand. What we do know is that these talks are extremely difficult, getting very intense as the clock ticks down to this new summit deadline of midnight tonight.

Reporting live, I'm Andrea Koppel, CNN, near Camp David, Maryland.

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