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CNN Today

Crisis in the Middle East: Israeli-Palestinian Violence Continues Despite Peace Agreements

Aired October 17, 2000 - 2:01 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: Let's begin in Egypt with the emergency Middle East summit, which is over. It took less than 24 hours, start to finish. Israelis and Palestinians agreed to a return to peace today, pushed and prodded by President Clinton. As Air Force One headed to Washington, U.S. negotiators were mindful the agreement would be worthless if it didn't take hold on the ground.

CNN senior international correspondent Walter Rodgers begins our coverage of the crisis in the Middle East.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALTER RODGERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The Middle East summit ended with another class photo, perhaps the last for President Clinton. There were promises to end the violence, but no signed document. And with violence continuing, the summit seemed at best a dubious success, a fact that did not escape Mr. Clinton.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we leave here today we will have to work hard to consolidate what we have agreed.

RODGERS: Egypt's president, Mubarak, was disappointed, saying what we achieved may not meet our people's expectations. Yasser Arafat left quickly. The Palestinian said to be disappointed. They had to settle for a watered down version of their demand for an international commission to investigate who was responsible for the violence. Publicly, Arafat seemed to reserve judgment on the summit.

YASSER ARAFAT, PRES., PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (through translator): The most important thing during yesterday and today is the implementation and we expect an accurate and honest implementation to what has been agreed upon.

RODGERS: By contrast, Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Israel achieved its goals but he said, he will wait 48 hours before ordering his troops pulled back from Palestinian controlled areas and he made an impassioned plea for a revival of the a peace process.

EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We won't be to forgive ourselves if we will be deteriorated into an infinite series of violent clashes and without trying our best. RODGERS: But Barak said if clashes continue, Israel will know what to do, adding the coming days will tell whether he has a peace partner. They will also tell how much attention Palestinian's pay to Arafat's call for an end to the hostilities. Perhaps the most eloquent comment on the expectations coming from the summit came from Jordan's King Abdullah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll keep our fingers crossed.

RODGERS (on camera): Indeed, much of the world is keeping its fingers crossed because, unless the violence abates, the region could become even more inflamed with repercussions that could affect the political stability of moderate Arab states as well as world oil prices and few would be left untouched by that.

Walter Rodgers, CNN, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATERS: Violence flared in the West Bank and Gaza again today, despite the deal worked out in Egypt.

Here's CNN's Jerrold Kessel in Jerusalem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An Israeli tank, stationed outside Ramallah, backs off towards its base a couple of hours after the summit commitments. Another tank stands pat, however. Minutes later, at a nearby point of friction on the edge between Palestinian and Israeli controlled territory, a new clash erupts. Palestinians stone Israeli troops. They mostly hold their fire. A relatively quiet standoff.

But, at about the same time, a more serious confrontation to the south of Jerusalem. Shots fired into an Israeli neighborhood seriously wound an Israeli border policeman. Israel fires back with tank-mounted machine guns at what it says is the source of the fire, the Palestinian town of Bechalla (ph).

In nearby Bethlehem, a fierce clash after the funeral of a 15- year-old Palestinian killed the previous day. An Israeli military commander says orders have not changed since the summit.

COL. GAL HIRSCH, ISRAELI MILITARY COMMANDER: My orders were cooling policy, full restraint, and if someone will aim and shoot, use your weapon and kill him.

KESSEL: During the Palestinian demonstration inside Ramallah of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, criticism of the summit's results from a powerful grassroots leader.

MARWAN BARGHOUTTI, FATAH LEADER: They will have to put an end for the Israeli exhibition. If the (inaudible) I don't think that they will succeed and they failed to do that. This peaceful Intifada will continue until then and the sovereignty. KESSEL: That kind of talk is seen as a possible challenge to Mr. Arafat's approach. But if the security arrangements take hold, the Palestinian leader, says one analyst, will be able to make good on his commitments.

GHASSAN KHATTIB, PALESTINIAN ANALYST: If Israel will also open the Palestinian territories and allow for normal life and movement, then I think Arafat will be in a position to calm down the situations gradually.

KESSEL: Israel's Prime Minister declares himself satisfied with the summit's outcome but Ehud Barak is now in a political bind as he drives for a broad government in concert with the political right headed by Ariel Sharon.

CHEMY SHALEV, ISRAELI ANALYST: Ironically, the worse the situation on the ground, perhaps Mr. Barak's political situation gets better, because then he will set up a national emergency government. It is only if the situation quiets down and the peace process seems to be advancing, that Mr. Barak will have to face some hard choices.

KESSEL: The cycle of violence can be broken, said President Clinton.

(on camera): The problem could be, which side takes the first step that is needed to break that cycle. And though President Clinton also said it will take time to heal the wounds of the past three weeks, does the volatile Israeli-Palestinian relationship have that time?

Jerrold Kessel, CNN Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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