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Interview With Ra'anan Gissin

Aired June 11, 2003 - 11:24   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Our Mike Hanna is also standing by back at our Jerusalem bureau, and Mike has more for us right now. Mike, what are you hearing?
MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Leon, indeed, once again the exact number of bodies still to be ascertained from this terror attack in Jerusalem. At least 13 people killed in that attack, according to police at this stage. This does not include the body of the suicide bomber who police say detonated an explosive device.

Now for more details here, I'm joined by a special adviser to the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, Ra'anan Gissin. Thank you for joining us. First of all, do you have any idea about who carried out this attack?

RA'ANAN GISSIN, ADVISER TO ARIEL SHARON: No, I don't, but I think we're seeing a very ominous pattern in the past few days, and that is collaboration between all the terrorist organizations to pull out, carry out joint terrorist activity, joint homicide and suicide bombing.

We captured yesterday a 16-year-old kid at Tulkarem. This was a joint effort by Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front to launch a terrorist attack, a suicide bombing in Netanya.

The man, Rantissi, who we failed to take out, was planning also joint efforts with Hamas, with Islamic Jihad, with the al Aqsa Brigades in carrying out suicide bombings inside Israel. And today you have a clear example that what he was planning to do, what was in the pipeline, was already there.

HANNA: But you mentioned Rantissi, Abdel Aziz Rantissi, the man who Israel attempted to assassinate in the course of yesterday. There has been a statement from him saying -- this is the response to Sharon's actions against him. There has been sharp criticism from the White House of the Israeli assassination attempt saying that it would not guarantee or further (ph) Israel's security.

Are we not in a tit for tat process here? You strike at militants, the militants strike back?

GISSIN: This is quite ludicrous. I mean, the man has been on record, both publicly as well as in the deeds and actions that he has taken. Even before any attempt on his life to continuously carry terrorist attacks against Israel. He has been urging all the organizations in Gaza to joint effort, and to carry on more attacks against Israel. He is responsible for the attack at the Aires (ph) junction. Before there was any -- any decision or any attempt to take him out. So what we are talking about is a deliberate, premeditated campaign at murdering innocent Israelis.

And I want to make it very clear. The prime minister said it time and again. He is willing to make faithful compromises for peace, and make courageous decisions against the majority of his party by removing unauthorized outposts. But there will be no compromise whatsoever -- I know the man -- there will be no compromise whatsoever when it comes to the life and security of the citizens of Israel.

HANNA: One week ago, Mr. Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian prime minister, shook hands in front of the president of the United States, committed themselves to the implementation of a road map, entered to end this conflict.

It appears that that road map is completely shattered under the violence of the past few days.

GISSIN: Definitely not by any fault of ours. We have gone way beyond anything that the other side has done in order to show our good will, our gesture, our willingness to do it. But we don't see any real response on the other side of taking even the smallest steps to stop terrorist activity, to transmit a message to the Palestinian street, terrorism must stop. That we don't see. And I'm saying here, I'm reiterating here the message of President Bush, there has to be a stoppage, a cessation of violence and terrorism before we can move forward, before the people can realize the hope of the vision that he offered them. We are willing to take those necessary steps. I hope that the Palestinians, after this attack, and the grim picture that they see, the murder of innocent Israeli civilians, which leads nowhere, will realize that their only hope is really to remove terrorism from the agenda of their life.

HANNA: But we have -- we see, as you say, these civilians, Israeli civilians being attacked in a terror attack in the course of the day. Yesterday, we saw Palestinian bystanders getting killed as an adjunct to Israeli rocket fire. There are, we hear, now six people have been killed during an Israeli attack in Gaza. There are the militants who are dying, who are being killed, but there are also the bystanders. There are also those...


GISSIN: We regret very much the loss of innocent life, but one must understand there is no symmetrical relations here between the two, because a bystander that gets killed in the course of military action that we are taking in order to defend ourself is not like the deliberate attempt at killing innocent civilians. They are sending suicide bombers, they are sending homicide killers to murder innocent people, whether in a park or in a bus, and that must stop.


GISSIN: There has to be a decision by the Palestinian government and a clear indication that they are going to stop and stand against terrorism, not just condemn it.

HANNA: But at this stage, and the prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, has told the president of the United States that he does not have the power at this stage to bring that about because Israel has security control of vast areas of Palestinian territory.

But how do you cut across this? How you seize control from the militants who appear to be directing the process? It is not Mr. Abbas and Mr. Sharon who have committed themselves to the process, it appears to be the militants who direct what happens, or that the process ends?

GISSIN: Well, in the same manner that we are taking very painful decisions and we are reigning (ph) any militants, and the government makes a decision, we expect that the Palestinian Authority will also -- will also follow and take responsibility for action emanating from their territory.

Otherwise, they don't have a Palestinian Authority and they don't have any government. And I'm not talking that they have to defend us. They have to defend their own concept, the concept that they said that they believe in, that they are going to follow of a free, democratic Palestine.

There ain't going to be any free Palestine or democratic Palestine before there is an eradication of terrorism.

HANNA: Ra'anan Gissin, thank you very much indeed for joining us.


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