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Washington Reacts to Sharon's Public Comments

Aired October 5, 2001 - 17:13   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A rather rare dispute, a public dispute erupting between the U.S. and Israel over comments made by the prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

To the White House and CNN's Major Garret for more reaction on this now. Major, hello.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill. Israel has been put on the sidelines as the United States has tried to build this international coalition against terrorism. And from that sideline perspective, Israel has become increasingly worried about U.S. moves, some private, some public.

On the private side, alarmed at the pressure that the United States government, through Secretary of State Colin Powell among them, have been placing on the Israeli government to show maximum restraint in dealing with the Palestinians. They've also grown concerned about U.S. efforts to, at least informally, bring into the coalition some nations that have previously been identified by the U.S. government as sponsors of terrorism. Among them, Syria and Iran.

And yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made it abundantly clear these activities are more than he and his right wing coalition can tolerate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes that these remarks are unacceptable. Israel could have no better or stronger friend than the United States, and better friend than President Bush.

President Bush is an especially close ally of Israel. The United States has been and will continue to work very hard to secure peace in the Middle East, to press the parties to end the violence and return to a political dialogue. And that will continue to be the goals and the policies of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: Bill, I don't need to tell you or anyone else in our audience that was not the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but in fact, the White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, responding to Ariel Sharon's remarks. Let me summarize them briefly. He warned the United States and other western democracies not to repeat the historic mistakes of 1938, when the European democracies decided to try to appease Nazi Germany when it occupied a certain part of Czechoslovakia. He also said Israel now feels that it must act alone to protect its security, an indication that violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians will increase in the coming days. That also, quite apart from the criticism of the U.S. government, a worrisome sign of things to come for this Bush administration -- Bill?

HEMMER: A rather extraordinary exchange, in public, too, today, Major.

On a different front, before the president left for Camp David this afternoon about two hours ago, he made another appeal on the U.S. economy front. He was talking taxes. What was message?

GARRETT: Well, the message to Congress was something different than senior Democrats on the Hill have been hearing in private meetings with the White House for the past couple of days. In those meetings, White House officials have said, well, the stimulus package, that could be up to $75 billion, could have some new federal spending in it, could have some tax cuts.

But yesterday House Republican leaders came over to the White House and said that was unacceptable to them. They warned that the president will lose in control of the tax cut debate, and said that he should make a statement that tax cuts and tax cuts only should be in this package. The president outlined that today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We ought to stimulate demand by cutting -- accelerating the marginal tax cuts that we passed and I signed. As well as, there ought to be a provision in the tax relief package to make sure that low and moderate income workers get tax relief as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: Bill, I can tell you, senior Senate Democrats have responded coolly to this outreach from the president. They don't believe a package to stimulate the economy that only has tax cuts is sufficient. What we're seeing, Bill, is a reassertion of traditional lines here in Washington, between how to create economic growth -- Republicans on the side of tax cuts, Democrats on the side of federal spending -- Bill.

HEMMER: Another busy day there, Major. Thanks, Major Garret at the White House.

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