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CNN Today

Bombings in Israel Deter Peace Talks

Aired December 28, 2000 - 4:33 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: There has been another explosion of violence in the Middle East; this, as a summit, planned as a step toward peace, is postponed.

CNN's Matthew Chance with the latest from Jerusalem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Victims of the latest blast being evacuated for treatment to southern Israel. Officials say two Israelis died when an explosion went off by the side of the road near the Sufa checkpoint, between Israel and the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip. The radical Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad, long opposed to the peace process, says it carried out the attack.

Earlier, a series of explosions on a public bus in Tel Aviv; 30 people are said to have been on board, traveling along a major city road when the explosions took place. Emergency workers say the injured suffered mainly from burns.

The explosions come amid intensive efforts to forge peace between Palestinians and Israelis. The Israeli prime minister says that effort should not be derailed.

"The attack is a test by extremists," he says, "who feel we are on the brink of a peace agreement." But," he says, "we shall not lose our determination."

But efforts to restart peace negotiations have continued to falter. In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak held talks on U.S. peace proposals with Yasser Arafat; but a planned summit between the two and Ehud Barak never happened. Back in Gaza, the Palestinian leader made clear he believes the U.S. proposals, which address key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, needed greater detail; but he said they would be considered closely in the days ahead.

YASSER ARAFAT, PRESIDENT, PALESTINIAN NATIONAL AUTHORITY (through translator): It's not the American proposals; it's American ideas, American thoughts. We are following up all of these issues. The Palestinian leadership is discussing this and, if needed, we will discuss this in the Palestinian Council. The Arab summit follow-up committee will meet on Monday, and we are discussing all these issues with our Arab brothers. CHANCE: Ehud Barak has already indicated he'll accept the U.S. plan, but even as time is crucial, the Palestinians say they won't be rushed into an agreement.

(on camera): Much may now depend on the response of the United States. Despite the bombing and the faltering peace process, President Clinton says he believes the Israelis and the Palestinians are closer than ever to reaching an agreement.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Jerusalem.

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