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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Israel Calls on Palestinians to Crack Down on Terror

Aired August 20, 2003 - 19:07   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: On to the Middle East peace or lack of peace situation now.
Israelis and Palestinians are walking a tightrope tonight after the deadly bus bombing in Jerusalem. Israel is calling on the Palestinian authority to live up to its vow of an unprecedented crackdown on terror. The Palestinians, meanwhile, are calling on Israel to keep its guns silent.

Our Jim Bittermann is in Jerusalem tonight. He is tracking reaction from both sides.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As if to focus minds were the full Palestinian cabinet meeting in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Israeli tanks pulled up at a nearby checkpoint.

All day long, the focus of attention has been on the government of the Palestinian authority and what it would do, could do, or might not do. The Israeli government made it crystal clear they expected a crackdown on the terrorists responsible for Tuesday's bus bombing or the road map to peace is at a dead end.

EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI VICE PRIME MINISTER: This will stop. Either the Palestinians will stop it or we will stop it, and once we will engage in stopping it, we will not stop before it's all over with.

BITTERMANN: After Tuesday's bloody attack on a Jerusalem bus which killed at least 20, the fledgling Palestinian government is at a turning point needing to demonstrate to Israel it will address terrorism more directly, more efficiently than its predecessors did.

Yet Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has already predicted pessimistically that if his security forces were to confront terrorist organizations directly, it could lead to a civil war among Palestinians.

Even so, at this stage, anything less than a full crackdown on the terrorists seems unlikely to satisfy the Israelis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BITTERMANN: And Daryn, we're hearing from Palestinian cabinet ministers who were in that meeting this evening that the authority has agreed to take specific steps to crack down on terrorism. They will include arresting terrorists, confiscating weapons, raiding bomb factories and setting up checkpoints, Palestinian checkpoints, throughout the Palestinian territories to better monitor terrorists.

On the other hand, having said all that there's still a meeting going on at this hour before Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and security chiefs of the Palestinian authority, trying to decide exactly what mechanism they would employ to do all those rather bold things without creating the conditions for a civil war, as Mahmoud Abbas suggested -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Ben Wedeman (sic) in Jerusalem, thank you for that.

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