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Interview with Ehud Olmert, Mayor of Jerusalem

Aired March 29, 2002 - 08:32   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us on the telephone right now is the mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert. Mr. Olmert, good to talk with you again. I understand you have been on the scene of this latest suicide bombing. Describe to us what you saw.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, I'm sorry, this Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem. If you could just hold on one second. Here is the mayor.

ZAHN: Mr. Mayor, can you hear me?

EHUD OLMERT, MAYOR, JERUSALEM: Hello. Yes, Paula.

ZAHN: Mr. Olmert?

OLMERT: Yes.

ZAHN: What is the latest on either the death toll or the casualties taken in this latest suicide bombing?

OLMERT: Well, unfortunately, we had two Israelis from Jerusalem killed at the entrance to the supermarket in Kiryat Yovel, and 20 people are wounded, some of them are severely wounded, some of them are less severely ordered. This is the -- this is what we had know for now.

ZAHN: We have heard very little this morning about this female suicide bomber. We have learned that she was, in some way, attached to the Fatah movement. What else can you tell us about her?

OLMERT: We don't know too much. I understand that she was a 17- year-old person, and that she was connected with a organization which is part of the Fatah, which is under the control of Yasser Arafat.

ZAHN: And Mr. Elmer, this takes place at a time when Yasser Arafat maintained he was very close to agreeing to a cease-fire with Anthony Zinni. What kind of impact will this have on that process?

OLMERT: Paula, you know, you are so smart, I am sure that you will not let yourself be keyed (ph) by this -- ridiculous pretension by Yasser Arafat. He has never wanted cease-fire, he never tried to cease-fire. He never was close to agree with Zinni for cease-fire. He's out for Jewish blood, and he didn't make the slightest effort to stop the fire from the day that Zinni arrived in the Middle East. On the contrary, he made all the necessary hints and signals to his people that they can continue. Suffice it to say that this morning he was calling for a million shahids to march towards Jerusalem. In other words, a million suicidal attackers to come to Jerusalem and to commit more and more suicidal attacks. One of them listened to him, and came already. Many more may follow suit.

But this is (ph) Yasser Arafat. It's time that civilized people will stop being misled by this treacherous murderer and terrorist who has become the role model for terrorists across the world in his repeated brutal attacks on innocent people.

ZAHN: Mr. Olmert, mayor of Jerusalem, we're going to have to leave it there this morning. Thank you for joining us at this tumultuous time of your city's life.

Jeff Greenfield still stands by. Quick reflection on some of the conversations you've just heard?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN ANALYST: Just one very quick point. You can see the vulnerability of Israel. This is a state that knows it's under siege, that knew, for instance, the Passover -- the first night of Passover was a time when someone might strike, and a suicide bomber walks past an armed guard at a hotel and kills 20 people, and today the same thing happens in a supermarket.

And what you realize is -- you would think there's no state more on a high state of alert anywhere in the world than Israel, and it shows you how -- in the most awful way possible, how effective this kind of low-intensity warfare can be, against the most heavily armed and -- and seize-minded state in the world, they cannot stop it. Which is one of the reasons why they think they have to go to the source.

ZAHN: Do you see any hope at all, near term?

GREENFIELD: Near term? No.

ZAHN: We're going to have to leave it there. We will come back to the Middle East on the other side of the break.

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