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Israel Promises Not to Give up on Peace EffortsAired October 13, 2000 - 8:14 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now we want to get the latest on diplomatic efforts from CNN's Mike Hanna. He is at the bureau in Jerusalem -- Mike.
MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, diplomatic efforts continuing, still, to bring the leaders together in a summit; much speculation of a summit being organized in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh Saturday.
No confirmation of this as yet, but we understand that efforts are still underway, that these outbreaks of violence place a major strain on the mediators' attempts to get the leaders together. We've heard of that conflict in Ramallah but, generally, in other areas there is an uneasy calm. It does appear in place -- very uneasy indeed, but still calm, nonetheless, relative to what has happened in recent days.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has been talking about forming a national emergency government, and with me is Israeli cabinet minister Rabbi Michael Melchior.
Thank you for joining us.
Now, such a government would probably include the opposition Likud party, a party headed by Ariel Sharon, a man hated by many Palestinians and whose presence in a government would make any negotiation, it would appear, between the Palestinians and the Israeli government just not doable at all.
RABBI MICHAEL MELCHIOR, ISRAELI CABINET MINISTER: Well, the Palestinians have made a choice. They could choose to find the solution, which would give them freedom, security, their own state by accepting to negotiate some of the proposals which the international community President Clinton has put forward.
They chose, again, to go to violence, which is a big threat to us here in the Middle East, to the whole Middle East; and we have to, both because of our parliamentary, democratic situation and because of the internal feeling in Israel, we have to, then, unite forces to take that challenge to finish the violence; and then we must not give up on peace.
In the final end, we have to live together with the Palestinians, and we will not, in this government, give up on peace. HANNA: Rabbi, you're also minister for diaspora affairs. Now, in the last couple of weeks we've seen incidents of Jews attacking an Arab mosque, we have seen Jewish synagogues come under attack, we've seen a Jewish shrine such as Joseph's Tomb attacked.
There's an increasing religious aspect to this conflict, is they're not?
MELCHIOR: Well, this is the big danger. We have a national conflict. Two people who claimed the same area as theirs. There are those who don't want a solution to this conflict ever. They want to turn it into a religious conflict which cannot have a solution.
Therefore, all these attacks, the attack, unfortunately on the mosque and these people will, of course, be punished -- attacks all over the world on synagogues never with such an intensity since the Second World War, burnt-down synagogues all over the world. In the West Bank, old synagogues, which have been there for hundreds and hundreds of years, burnt down by Muslim extremists.
We can't afford to turn this into a religious conflict and I hope they are all religious people who believe in one God and, knowing that all creatures are created by him, that we should turn to an appeal to the true belief, and that is for peace.
HANNA: Rabbi Melchior, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
So a relative calm in most areas, but still, conflict underway in the West Bank town of Ramallah as diplomatic efforts to get a summit underway continue -- Carol.
LIN: Mike, before you leave us I have to ask you: Ehud Barak says that he still believes that peace is possible, but that Yasser Arafat is no longer -- he no longer considers Yasser Arafat a partner in this peace deal.
So who is it, exactly, that he thinks he's going to be negotiating with?
HANNA: Well, that's a very good question, Carol. Yasser Arafat is the president of the Palestinian authority, and it appears is likely to remain so; so unless Mr. Barak can bring himself to negotiate with Mr. Arafat, and unless Mr. Arafat can bring himself to negotiate with Mr. Barak, then the leaders simply are not going to be talking.
And if the leaders are not talking, then there's very little likelihood of attempts to be made to bring about a cessation of hostilities, Carol.
LIN: All right, thank you very much, Mike Hanna, CNN's Jerusalem bureau chief.
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