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Crisis in the Middle East: Sporadic Incidents of Violence Continue in West Bank, Gaza Strip; Rhetoric Fans Rising Tensions

Aired October 23, 2000 - 1:08 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: To the crisis now in the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is working to put together an emergency government in the face of criticism from Arab nations. All the while, angry Palestinians warn a consolidated Israeli government can only mean an all-out war. The death toll in the last three weeks of fights has now climbed to at least 135.

CNN Jerusalem bureau chief Mike Hanna joins us now live with the latest -- Mike.

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, sporadic incidents of violence continue in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. And in the last few minutes, reports of violence or of bullets being fired in the neighborhood of Gilo, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, there we have reports that gunfire has been directed in from a nearby Arab suburb into what is a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.

Reports too that Israeli tanks stationed in that neighborhood have responded with machine gun fire.

Well, earlier on in this day, as well, a number of funerals in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Among those buried on this day, a Palestinian police officer, who had been killed recently in a clash with Israeli security forces. A number of Palestinian police officers have been killed in these ongoing clashes.

The death toll now: Well over 130, of whom all but nine are either Palestinians or Arab Israelis.

Focus on this day too, though, on the political process. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is having coalition talks with the opposition Likud Party. Mr. Barak intent on forming a government of national unity.

However, no success, from Mr. Barak's point of view on this day. We understand that the talks ended inconclusively. It is understood too that the parties are going to be drawing up further discussion documents. They will meet again within the next 30 hours to continue these discussions, as to how to form a coalition government.

Not all in Mr. Barak's cabinet are in favor of this. We have heard from Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, who has said that any inclusion of Likud that involves a veto on their behalf would mean that he and a number of colleagues would leave the cabinet.

I am Mike Hanna, CNN, reporting live from Jerusalem.

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