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Crisis in the Middle East: Israel's Cabinet Prepares For Meeting

Aired October 9, 2000 - 1:36 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The latest in the Middle East crisis is, as we mentioned, Israel's cabinet due to meet in about two hours from now to decide its next move, and apart from but related to the turmoil in the West Bank and Gaza are new battles with Hezbollah guerrillas on the Lebanese border.

CNN's Brent Sadler joins us now from Beirut with the latest from there -- Brent.

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Natalie.

First of all, there has been intense diplomatic activity here in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, with a Russian delegation passing through the capital. The -- Igor Ivanov, the Russian prime minister meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Salim Huss -- top of that agenda: attempts to try and defuse the situation, to try and at least keep Lebanon's southern border with Israel quiet. There were no reports of any Palestinian confrontations with the Israelis.

Also, no further action from Hezbollah guerrillas, who on Saturday launched a cross-border attack, the first time that's happened since Israel withdrew its troops back on May the 24th this year. That cross-border attack by the Hezbollah guerrillas led to the ambush and capture of three Israeli soldiers, all of staff rank, sergeant rank.

Now, Hezbollah says it's prepared for a prisoner swap in exchange of those three Israeli soldiers for perhaps dozens of detainee, Lebanese detainees held in Israeli prisons. Notably, a key Hezbollah official, Sheik Abdul Karim-Obaid (ph), held for more than a decade without trial by the Israelis, Hezbollah now says it has aces in hand and wants its people back and won't let the Israeli soldiers go until that happens. The German government involved in mediations, also the Red Cross acting as a facilitator.

Also, the leader of Hezbollah, Sheik Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, has met the Russian delegation, the deputy foreign minister here in Beirut several hours ago. So, intense diplomatic activity, both on the international side and also from the United Nations, the United Nations here urging the Lebanese authorities to beef up their security along that volatile southern border.

Back to you, Natalie. ALLEN: All right, Brent Sadler in Beirut. And again, Israel's cabinet meeting in two hours. Thank you.

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