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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold

Aired July 31, 2003 - 20:08   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, I'm joined from Washington by Dore Gold. Gold is a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and a researcher of terrorist financing. He testified on Capitol Hill today.
Always good to see you. Welcome.

DORE GOLD, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Pleasure, Paula.

ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about your testimony and the specific charge that Saudis are supporting the terror group Hamas. What is the basis for your claim?

GOLD: Well, there's really ongoing evidence, much of it seized by Israel from West Bank cities during Operation Defensive Shield last year.

We have, for example, checks from the Al Rajhi bank and Chase Manhattan in the United States. We have payment schedules of the International Islamic Relief Organization, some $280,000 to 14 Hamas fronts in the West Bank and Gaza. And, finally, we have the testimony of the No. 2 man in the PLO, in the Palestinian Authority, the now prime minister of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen.

ZAHN: Let me ask you this. Do you believe the Saudi support for Hamas has increased since September 11, 2001?

GOLD: Well, unfortunately -- we had hoped -- actually, I should start by saying that we had hoped that, after May 12, the Saudis had a wakeup call after that triple bombing in Riyadh. And we had seen the Saudis very active in trying to deal with the terrorist threat at home.

But, unfortunately, the overwhelming evidence at present is that the Saudis are supporting Hamas to the tune of 50 or maybe as much as 70 percent of the Hamas budget and that the Saudi portion of Hamas support is, in fact, growing.

ZAHN: And you no doubt have seen how high-ranking Saudis are reacting to some of what you have said over the last couple of days.

We're going to put up on the screen something that Prince Bandar is quoted as saying: "Dore Gold has carried on a campaign of lies and unsubstantiated accusations. His goal" -- here we go -- "his goal is to malign the Saudi government and drive a wedge between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Ironically, this is the very same objective shared by Osama bin Laden."

Your reaction to that?

GOLD: Well, Bandar was invited to the hearing today and refused to attend. The same is true of Adel Jubeir. So they had their opportunity to respond to me in substance and not just try and get involved in character assassination.

I would like to see better U.S.-Saudi relations. I would like to see Saudi Arabia fulfill its commitments to President Bush made in June of this year in Sharm el-Sheikh, when they told President Bush that they would cut all terrorist financing. Unfortunately, they're not living up to their commitments and they're undermining the peace process and President Bush's road map to peace.

ZAHN: We are going to have to end on that note.

Dore Gold, thank you so much for your perspective tonight.

GOLD: My pleasure.

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