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CNN Today

Middle East Violence Underlines Importance of Peace Talks

Aired December 22, 2000 - 2:50 p.m. ET

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

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright today personally joined in the Middle East talks under way in Washington. Albright met with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, both separately and together at a U.S. Air Force base. Later, the Palestinian representatives said that there were still large gaps between the two sides. Tomorrow, President Clinton is to try his hand at bringing things along.

In the Middle East today, events showed how crucial it is to reach an agreement. CNN's Mike Hanna from Jerusalem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Israeli wounded arrive at hospital, the result of what Israeli police describe as a suicide bombing in the West Bank. The police say a Palestinian entered a roadside restaurant near a Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley and detonated an explosive device. He was killed and three Israeli soldiers were wounded.

There was violence elsewhere in the Palestinian territories. In the West Bank town of Hebron, one Palestinian reportedly taking part in a demonstration was shot by Israeli forces. Israeli authorities say another Palestinian was shot by a Jewish settler after attacking an Israeli policeman in a Jewish settlement near Hebron. A third Palestinian shot dead near Netzarim in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians and Israelis each holding the other side responsible.

In Jerusalem, there was again confrontation after the weekly Muslim prayers. This Friday, the last in the holy month of Ramadan. As in previous weeks, entry to the Al Aqsa Mosque in the old city was restricted.

"No one under the age of 35 is allowed in," says this soldier.

Israeli undercover units were seen arresting a number of Palestinians in the crowds outside the old city. Israeli authorities say a total of 11 Palestinians were arrested and held for questioning.

Among those refused entry into the mosque, who decided to pray in the streets outside, there was nothing but disdain for the peace talks under way in Washington.

"Negotiations are a waste of time. It's all for nothing," says this 35-year-old. "The old way to do peace will not work."

Rejection of the peace talks, too, among Israelis attending this funeral, that of a 30-year-old Israeli civilian, who police say was shot by Palestinian gunmen while driving on a highway through the West Bank Thursday night. A statement released by a settlers organization saying this death yet more evidence of the futility of talks held while Israelis are under fire.

(on camera): But the leaders on both sides are holding firm in their support of the talks, apparently at this stage not willing to let events on the ground dictate the process.

Mike Hanna, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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