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About 400,000 Israelis Demonstrate to Support Jerusalem as Nation's Capitol

Aired January 8, 2001 - 2:24 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: President Clinton is sending an envoy to the Middle East; it's his final push to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together in support of his proposed peace plan. Mr. Clinton outlined his initiatives in a speech yesterday. All the while in Jerusalem today, tens of thousands of Israeli protesters rallied in the old city.

CNN's Jerusalem bureau chief Mike Hanna has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Organizer say that 400,000 people attended the rally here tonight. Well, that's a difficult figure to confirm independently, but seasoned observers say that it is the biggest demonstration that has taken place in Jerusalem in recent years.

The aim of the demonstration, the crowd carrying a myriad of posters, pledging allegiance to Jerusalem and making clear their opposition to any move to make Jerusalem anything but the united and sovereign capitol of the state of Israel. Speaker after speaker insisted this was not a political event. However, the crowd carried poster, too, indicating their displeasure with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and making clear their opposition to Mr. Barak's attempts to resuscitate a long dormant peace process.

The U.S. envoy to the region, the senior U.S. representative for Mr. Clinton here, Dennis Ross, is on his way to hold talks with the Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. He will attempt to find whether the deep divide between the leaders can be narrowed, whether there is any point in carrying on with the latest Clinton proposals as a basis for negotiation.

The crowd here has made quite clear that there is no concession that can be made that would satisfy them, particularly with regard to Jerusalem. The Palestinians have made equally clear that they will accept nothing but East Jerusalem as the capitol of an independent Palestinian state. So, clearly, a very great divide between the publics on each side; let alone the leaders.

I'm Mike Hanna, CNN, in Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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