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War in the Middle East

Aired July 24, 2006 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, death, destruction and despair, Israel attacks Hezbollah rocket launching sites as nearly 100 Hezbollah rockets rained down on northern Israel today.
And, after 400 have died in 13 days, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Mid East trip makes a surprise first stop in Beirut. Can she stop the bloodshed?

We'll get reaction to her visit from all sides Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Hezbollah.

Plus, all the latest with reporters on the front lines; it's next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Good evening.

Here we go again. We check in, in northern Israel, with Christiane Amanpour, CNN's Chief International Correspondent.

Before we talk with her, let's watch her report from the front lines earlier. Watch.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Putting on the war paint, preparing to go in, these Israeli infantry soldiers have been bussed up to the front and await orders to move on and support battalions of ground troops already across the border in southern Lebanon.

From this vantage point their commanding general points out the hill on the other side and says finally they have Maroun Al Ras and are pushing on to the next strategic town of Bint Jubail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are taking them out of their positions and this causes the fire to be less accurate. He has to move north and fires less deep into Israel. Slowly, we are moving them to where we want them.

AMANPOUR: He says his forces are taking casualties but Hezbollah's are much higher. He says he needs at least another week to finish the job.


KING: Christiane, is this a full-fledged invasion or what is it?

AMANPOUR: Well it's not, I mean it's not. It's not like the front has opened and divisions are moving forth with infantry and armor. It is a large number of forces in there, anywhere between one and a couple of thousand and they are going off to these towns.

The strategy is to weaken and degrade Hezbollah sufficiently so that it doesn't bomb and rocket in northern Israel. And so, in order to do that they have to completely clear the border area. That's what their aim is. They're trying to push back and clear the border area.

So, they say they're making progress. They do say they're taking casualties. They've had two at least in the Bin Jabal battle, which is happening now. They call Bin Jabal, which is four kilometers inside Lebanon, a Hezbollah capital in southern Lebanon and this is what they're trying to do, to clear the border and to push them back and to prevent them from ever taking up positions on the border again, which directly threaten northern Israel.

KING: Thank you, Christiane.

Let's go to Haifa, Anderson Cooper, our much traveled Anderson Cooper is now in Haifa, the anchor of Anderson Cooper 360, which follows this program. From that vantage point a lot of bombing still going on?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of rockets still incoming, Larry, no doubt about it. North of Haifa today in Nahariya as well, Tiberius as well, other towns in northern Israel, more than 90 Hezbollah rockets slamming into the territory here. More than seven people were wounded as of late Monday afternoon. That's the latest figure I have from the Israel Defense Forces.

And that is the frustrating thing for people here. As intense as the action is on the ground in southern Lebanon, Israel saying they degraded more than 50 percent of Hezbollah capabilities.

Larry those rockets just keep on coming. The Israelis say it is a sign of just how entrenched Hezbollah is in their positions, how many rockets they do have at their disposal. They say more than 10,000 rockets, many of them hidden underground.

And, as Christiane mentioned, that's why they're pushing further north from the town that they now have a foothold in trying to get what they say is a major storage area for some of these rockets, Larry, hoping to stop the incoming. But, as you know today, there was more terror coming from the skies.

KING: So, Anderson, safely said no let up?

COOPER: No let up no doubt about it. If anything, it just seems you know to be wearing on day after day becoming sort of this new normal. Also, one major event though out of Beirut which was the actual evacuation of Americans really seems to be slowing down and kind of wrapping up today.

I actually came out on a chopper flight today. I had a chance to look very up close and personal at how the evacuations have been going. They brought out more than 11,000 U.S. civilians.

The U.S. military, the Marines very happy with how the evacuations have gone, they've done a really tremendous job, the amount of people they've been able to move just in these last seven days alone. They're wrapping up the operations. Any more people who want to come out are going to be taken out by these passenger ferry ships -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, Anderson, Anderson Cooper in Haifa.

Now, we go to Beirut, Nic Robertson, CNN's Senior International Correspondent. What do they make of Secretary Rice's trip there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they made from the different groups they -- they saw it in a mixed way. Certainly the prime minister met and spent quite some time with Condoleezza Rice. We haven't heard exactly what he thought.

But when Condoleezza Rice put her plan to Hezbollah's political ally here, his response is this is not what Hezbollah are looking for. They're looking for a ceasefire and then negotiating the rest of the terms of the agreement.

What was put to them today was a ceasefire and the rest of the package, which is pulling Hezbollah back from the border area with Israel, putting an international force in its place, so not a particularly favorable reaction from the group that Condoleezza Rice would like to see give at least some positive response to.

She also met with a group here, the Cedar group. That is a group of anti-Syrian politicians. She had a slightly more favorable response from them. But I talked to one of their politicians afterwards and from what he heard of Condoleezza Rice's plans his assessment was is that the fighting will continue for sometime yet to come -- Larry.

KING: And, Nic, is she in Tel Aviv now?

ROBERTSON: She left here after about seven or eight hours on the ground. She had very, very tight security. She drove up this road here to see the prime minister. She has -- she was in a convoy of at least six or seven SUVs.

The windows were rolled down. Secret Service gunmen with their weapons pointing out of the windows, nobody was taking any chance. Security really was stepped up on the streets here today but she has now left onto Tel Aviv -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, Nic.

And now back to northern Israel, Senior National Correspondent John Roberts joins us. Here is a portion of John's earlier report that ran a little while ago. Watch this before we talk with him.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SR. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What this battery has been doing for the last few days is really its mission is twofold. It's laying down suppressing fire on those Katyusha rockets which have been firing from Lebanon into Israel, some 98 of those today, as well it's been putting down covering fire in front of the Israel Defense Forces.

That's what I said. It's been laying down covering fire, fire missions in front of those Israeli Defense Forces as they push deeper into Lebanon.


KING: Get a little frightened there, John?

ROBERTS: You know, Larry, when you're standing that close to a gun and I was only about 60 to 70 feet away from it, it's not just the noise that shocks you but -- and Christiane Amanpour can attest to this as well because she was down with a couple of those batteries -- there's a shockwave, a concussive wave that comes out of the front of those guns and it actually pushes you forward a little bit.

It's human nature to flinch when you hear a loud noise but when you get that loud noise in addition to the concussion you can't really stand there without at least blinking.

KING: John, in all of this is it possible to tell at this point who's winning? Is there such a thing?

ROBERTS: Well, I mean it all depends on how you define win, Larry. This is asymmetrical warfare and it's what the United States is facing in Iraq as well. You have a militia group that has fighting capabilities that are not what a typical army would have.

They have caches of weapons hidden in tunnels. They're able to pop out, fire those then duck back again. It's not like you've got division against division or some sort of tank warfare or infantry warfare.

This really is, this is a conventional army fighting a guerilla organization and, as the United States found in Vietnam, and as they're finding again in Iraq and as Russia found in Afghanistan, it's a very different type of warfare.

So, at this point it's difficult to say who is actually winning. Obviously, the Israel Defense Forces are punishing Hezbollah and they are beginning to degrade their capabilities but who knows at this point what Hezbollah is really capable of? And that's something that worries the IDF.

KING: Thank you, John.

We'll take a break. And when we come back, Senators Jon Kyl and Chuck Schumer, co-sponsors of a resolution passed in the Senate condemning Hezbollah. We'll speak with both of them right after these words.


KING: We now welcome two prominent members of the United States Senate, co-sponsors of the resolution that passed unanimously in the Senate condemning Hezbollah and supporting Israel's self defense, Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York.

Senator Kyl, what do you make of Secretary Rice's trip?

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Well, obviously we hope it's successful in conveying the message that the United States is not going to intervene and call for a ceasefire as long as Hezbollah, the terrorist group, is not willing to perform their part of the bargain, which is to stop what they're doing and to pull back and release the captive Israeli soldiers.

This is remember a situation very much like when we first went into Afghanistan after 9/11 and, if anybody had said after about a week of our activity there, "Why don't you all hold back and let the Taliban regroup and maybe call a ceasefire here," we'd have said "No way. We've got to get rid of those people. They're causing a lot of civilian casualties."

Remember the civilian casualties that have been caused by the Hezbollah here and so it's time -- this is not the time to call a ceasefire unless Hezbollah is ready to meet the conditions of it.

KING: Senator Schumer, earlier today your Minority Leader Harry Reid said, "Hopefully, Secretary Rice's visit to Lebanon is not a continuation of the Bush photo op of foreign policy. I hope it's not a photo op again but a serious effort." Do you think it is a serious effort?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I do think it's a serious effort and I agree with the view that what we're doing is exactly right. No country, if missiles rain down on her from a neighboring country, would tolerate that situation.

And the calls by some for immediate ceasefire, which would allow Hezbollah to have those missiles in place and allow Hezbollah to then shoot them at will, it's sort of like saying "Well, we have a gun at your head."

Now what Secretary Rice is saying is "Take the gun down before you call a ceasefire." Hezbollah is saying "We want to keep the guy right there and just have Israel not remove the gun."

That makes no sense. No country would -- no country would go along with it and Israel shouldn't have to. And thus far at least and I hope the president will stay the course here, American policy is exactly right. Israel doesn't want our troops. They don't want -- they just want the ability to defend themselves. And I'd just make one other point. People say, "Well it's taking time." Yes, it's taking time in part because Hezbollah hides among civilians but in part because the Israelis are trying to do things in a way that minimizes loss of civilian life. They send leaflets and say "We're coming."

Now, of course, the Lebanese civilians read those leaflets but so does Hezbollah and it slows the whole process down but it's the right thing to do and we ought to give Israel the time to defend herself.

KING: Senator Kyl, what about those who might say concerning a ceasefire at least for whatever time it stops killing?

KYL: Well, Larry, the problem is that you've got a terrorist group that's infiltrated the entire southern part of Lebanon. They are in amongst the civilian population. They hide their weapons in mosques because they know they won't be bombed there.

This is a terrorist group that's now killed 30-some Israel citizens. They bombed indiscriminately. It's like the V-1 and V-2 rockets bombing down, raining down on London. Nobody knows where they're going to land but they're going to kill civilians.

And, it seems to me that under those circumstances it is incumbent upon the Israelis to find out where these people are, root them out. If they fled, at least seize their weapons so that innocent Israelis are not going to be subject to this reign of terror in the future. This is not the time for us to cause the Israelis to stop in the middle of the action, which is to destroy the threat of the terrorists.

KING: Senator Schumer, since we know that Syria and Iran are very involved in Hezbollah, shouldn't we be talking to them?

SCHUMER: Well, I have no problem with us talking to them but you can't have that talking be a substitute for allowing Israel to defend their self, particular Syria.

Syria is a little bit different. Syria has a majority of the population that's Sunni and I want to say that for the first time in a long time, and maybe this will change the balance in the Middle East for the better, you heard some of the Sunni countries being critical of Hezbollah, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan.

And Syria is unstable there and talking to them in my judgment will do no harm and perhaps we should but it should not be a substitute for dealing with a group that is a terrorist group that doesn't believe that there should be an Israel at all.

That's Hezbollah. They think that there should be no Israel. It's not where to draw the line. It's not a two state solution. It's none at all. And you can't -- the sine qua non here, the bottom line is that Israel has to be allowed to take this gun away from her head and then things can fall into place.

KING: Public polls seem to indicate, Senator Kyl that the people would like the United States to be interested but not really involved.

KYL: I suspect that's true. We have enough on our plate right now. But remember that all of this terrorist activity is related. Hezbollah has killed Americans and Hezbollah is involved throughout the Middle East.

And, therefore, even though this is not technically our war, it is all part of a larger terrorist activity throughout the world. And that's why even though the United States could intervene and use its power to bring about some kind of resolution, hopefully in the area, it is also the case that we have a dog in this hunt and that is to see that these terrorists can no longer threaten innocent civilians.

That's part of our war on terror. It's part of what the Israelis are dealing with. And so I don't think it's fair to ask the United States to somehow play honest broker between a group of terrorists on the one hand and a threatened Israel on the other.

SCHUMER: I'd just make one other point, Larry. Israel has never asked for our troops. Israel doesn't really want our troops. She's capable of defending herself. The only role that she wishes America to play is to prevent the rest of the world from putting such pressure on her that she can't defend herself, even though every other nation would defend themselves in the same way.

That's all Israel asks of America. I think most Americans are supportive. The resolution in the Senate, there's no partisanship on this one as you can tell. The resolution in the Senate passed 100-0, the resolution in the House 410-8.

I think the American people are quite united here. They don't want to see American troops there but Israel doesn't want them. All they want, all the people want is basically, I think the majority anyway, everyone wants peace.

But I think most Americans have the wisdom there's not going to be peace as long as Hezbollah has the upper hand and Israel and its defense forces are trying to take that upper hand away, which by the way will be not only good for Israel but good for Lebanon as well.

KING: Thank you both very much, Senators Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, and Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, co-sponsors of the bill condemning -- the resolution condemning Hezbollah, which as Senator Schumer just said passed unanimously.

We'll be back with lots more. Don't go away.


KING: We go to Beirut, Dr. Mohamad Chatah, Senior Advisor to the Lebanese prime minister. Dr. Chatah, when did you know that Secretary Rice was coming to Beirut?

DR. MOHAMAD CHATAH, SR. ADVISOR TO LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER SINIORA: Oh, just before she arrived. You know for security reasons these things are kept last minute. KING: Did you hear what you wanted to hear from her?

CHATAH: No. We heard certain things that we wanted to hear and discuss but there are other things we did not hear. We did not hear a call for an immediate ceasefire, which we think is absolutely necessary. It's necessary for moral reasons. It's also necessary to make the discussions more sane and to lower tempers and allow everyone to find a solution, a quick solution to this horrendous problem. The secretary came with ideas -- sorry.

KING: I'm sorry, go ahead.

CHATAH: The secretary came with ideas, ideas that we discussed. We had serious discussions and we think we see certain things eye-to- eye and we have a pretty clear idea of where we want to be at the end of the tunnel. But we are in a dark tunnel and people are being killed. Lives are being shattered.

And the process of killing people and what is happening in the south cannot be a way of getting to that end of the tunnel because when you have babies, when you have families being killed, when you have a massive exodus of people from their homes you cannot be talking politics and solutions and you cannot be talking the way that civilized people should be talking. And what is happening in the south is not civilized.

KING: Is your anger, Dr. Chatah, at both Israel and Hezbollah?

CHATAH: Look, from the beginning we disavowed what Hezbollah has done. We are not here to defend Hezbollah and everyone knows that we've had political differences with Hezbollah and we did not approve of the continuation of Hezbollah's weapons in Lebanon.

And we have -- we have gone through a very intense discussion with Hezbollah to get to a different situation where the government is in control of all Lebanese territories.

And, you know, this government and the state of Lebanon is relatively new. I mean we had been under Syrian administration for all practical purposes for many, many years and we had been in a civil war before.

This government is in its infancy and it's been trying its best to reach a point of normal statehood, of being able to control the, you know, the whole territory.

Now this is not an easy thing in a country with so many confessions, with so many differences and a country where for a generation one group wandered around. Now we were achieving some success and we were getting to the point where the government was going to be the only bearer of arms.

With this happening, with this happening, with civilians being killed, with bombs flying all over, with the country being torn to pieces by the destruction of bridges and so forth, this is not helping the state of Lebanon, the government of Lebanon, which everyone said wanted to help.

KING: Thank you, Dr. Chatah. We'll be calling on you again, Dr. Mohamad Chatah, the Senior Advisor to the Lebanese prime minister.

Now we stay in Beirut with Ibrahim Mousawi, the Chief Editor of foreign news for the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar TV. We have an e-mail for you Ibrahim from Alan of Salt Lake City. "Is it the goal of Hezbollah to wipe out Israel?"

IBRAHIM MOUSAWI, AL-MANAR TV: It's the goal of Israel to wipe out Hezbollah, to wipe out the Lebanese people, to wipe out many Arab countries, I mean and we can see this put in effect. I mean you see now 400 Lebanese have been killed so far. You have mass murder, genocide, and I believe what you can hear as rhetoric in one place you're seeing -- you're seeing it put in documentation from the Israeli side.

KING: So your answer would be I guess conversely, yes?

MOUSAWI: No, I'm saying that Hezbollah has the aim of defending Lebanon, liberating what's still occupied of its territories, and I know everyone knows that. I mean, Israel always depicts itself as a victim (INAUDIBLE) of democracy in this part of the world while you see it's always carrying wars against the neighbors, occupying the territories and killing the people.

KING: What are your thoughts on Secretary Rice's trip so far?

MOUSAWI: Well, I don't know blankets or bombs first, you know. The Secretary of State Rice she didn't want -- she didn't see any importance for a ceasefire for a hasty or immediate ceasefire. I mean it's insensitive to the killings, to the mass killings of the children and the Lebanese people, to the civilians.

She's only sensitive to the Israeli side. The kind of plan that she has proposed to the speaker of the house and maybe to the government was not up to the level that the Lebanese have expected.

Many of the Lebanese believe that what Condoleezza Rice is doing here she is mounting the political pressure as to meet the military pressure the Israelis are doing, so the Lebanese would need to bear down on it.

KING: Do you see any end in sight?

MOUSAWI: Well, of course, everybody wants a ceasefire, a hasty ceasefire. Everybody wants the refugees to go back. Everybody wants indirect negotiations for -- in order to make a swap and other things. I mean this is the first important thing and then the negotiations would go then, but the artilleries have to be silenced first.

KING: Thank you, Ibrahim, Ibrahim Mousawi, the chief editor of foreign news for the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar TV.

Back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.


KING: Let's get you up to date on the headlines. U.S. Secretary of State Rice has met with Lebanese leaders in Beirut, setting forth proposals for ending the conflict. A source in the Lebanese parliament speaker's office said the speaker thought Rice's comments were not encouraging. She travels now to Israel to meet separately with PM Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas.

Israeli troops continue to fight in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah lobs more rockets into northern Israel. More than 400 are dead in the two weeks of Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. The U.N. appeals for $150 million in aid for Lebanon. The U.S. orders humanitarian supplies sent. Let's check back in with Anderson Cooper in Haifa. What's the latest there, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It was a day of more terror from the skies, Larry. More than 90 separate rockets being fired by Hezbollah into northern Israel. Seven Israelis were wounded according to Israeli Defense Forces. It has become just a sad routine here, the sound of the sirens piercing the day. You hear them early in the morning. You hear them late in the afternoon. All throughout the day. It has caused a lot of frustration of course here, a lot of anger, a lot of resolve. Despite Israeli Defense Forces saying they've degraded some 50 percent of Hezbollah's military capabilities, Larry, the rockets just keep on coming.

KING: Anderson Cooper in Haifa. He'll be with you at the top of the hour hosting "ANDERSON COOPER 360." Back to northern Israel and John Roberts. What's the latest there, John?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SR. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The latest here, Larry, is even though it's 4:30 in the morning we still hear sporadic artillery fire as the Israeli Defense Forces fire those shells into southern Lebanon, trying to keep Hezbollah off guard, trying to keep their heads down so that the Israeli Defense Forces can continue to move deeper into Lebanon. The firing not as frequent as it was in recent hours, but still there.

I guess the Israeli Defense Forces letting Hezbollah know that they're continuing to monitor them and they're continuing to try to keep them pinned down. Tomorrow is going to be very interesting to watch as they continue that campaign to try to take the town of Bint Jubail away from Hezbollah. They're saying that's a Hezbollah stronghold and if they can get control of that they may be able to damage their command and control in the southern part of the country, Larry.

KING: Thank you, John. Let's go to Jerusalem and Wolf Blitzer, who is on the scene. He's taking "THE SITUATION ROOM" overseas to a spot he's very familiar with, the Middle East. Anything surprise you in your short time there, Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, Larry, it's interesting just flying into Israel right now. I didn't know what to expect because, like you, I'd been watching this from afar. I was in Washington, and it was unclear what the mood was. And just landing at Ben Gurion Airport outside of Tel Aviv and driving up to Jerusalem, you can see that the country is in a war kind of situation, although here in Jerusalem it's very peaceful, very quiet, business as usual. Although the people of Israel, the Israelis, clearly are preoccupied with what's going on.

A little interesting nugget. On the flight over from the United States there were a lot of Israelis who live in the United States just coming back to Israel to show their solidarity with their fellow Israelis during a difficult time even though a lot of people are canceling trips to Israel at this time, there's a lot of Israelis and some American Jews are just coming over to volunteer, pick up because a lot of the Israeli civilians are being called up into the reserves and they just want to fill some jobs that might be necessary.

KING: Wolf Blitzer in familiar territory. We'll be checking with him a lot. Now to Damascus. Aneesh Raman, CNN's international correspondent, what are they thinking there about Secretary Rice's trip?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, Syria says that Secretary Rice's decision not to stop in Damascus was a bad one. Syria maintains it doesn't want to be drawn into the military conflict but it also doesn't want to be left out of any peace deal that might be brokered. It has disputed areas with Israel that it wants back. There's a broader issue here, though.

The U.S. has to decide how far it is willing to go to pursue sustainable peace in the region. Is it willing to talk directly to Syria? Is it willing to talk directly to Iran? Both countries, the U.S. says, sponsors terrorism. And the bigger picture, even above that, is that Iran is explicitly trying to be the leading voice for the Muslim world. I was just there a few months ago. It is in part why Iran is so defiant on the nuclear issue. Iran is growing, as well, an alliance with Syria. The U.S. would very much like countries like Saudi Arabia to come in, get Syria to back away from Iran, and decrease Iran's power within the region.

So that is something that is the undercurrent from this part of the story that we could see play out in the weeks and months after this gets resolved between Lebanon and Israel.

KING: Thanks Aneesh. Now we go to Larnaca, Cyprus, Chris Burns. Let's watch an earlier report of Chris from there.


CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.N. troops load a French ship bound for south Lebanon with supplies for their peacekeepers, isolated by the fighting. And they're about to shift gears to ship tons of humanitarian aid that would usually be trucked in overland to Lebanon. Now also cut off by the conflict. Once the aid gets to Lebanon, officials are worried how much will get to the needy. There are calls for the establishment of humanitarian corridors, especially where fighting has been heaviest in southern Lebanon.


KING: Chris, is it winding down now?

BURNS: Very far from it. About nine ships arriving overnight here, thousands of people. But it's taking a more humanitarian tack. As you saw in my report, we're seeing ships loading up with tents, with blankets, with kitchen sets, bathroom kits and so forth, food as well, medicine that we're going to see that increasingly in the coming days.

We're hearing that from the U.N., from various aid groups, that they plan on putting on some of these ships here, over my shoulder, more of this aid to take over to Lebanon as the crisis deepens over there. We're also hearing from Jan Egeland, the U.N. relief coordinator who passed through here just today. He told me that they're going to be sending convoys from Beirut down to south Lebanon starting on Wednesday, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Chris. Chris Burns in Larnaca, Cyprus. We'll be right back with the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. Don't go away.


KING: We go now to New York, Ambassador Dan Gillerman is the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. We have an e-mail for you, Mr. Ambassador, from Mary in Melbourne, Australia. "What are Israel's intentions? Is it to disarm Hezbollah or to disarm Lebanon itself?"

DAN GILLERMAN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Israel has no fight with Lebanon. Israel left Lebanon completely over six years ago. The Lebanese people then had two choices -- either to take care of their people and make Lebanon prosperous and free again or to allow it to turn into a terror base.

Unfortunately, tragically, they chose the latter, and our aim is to disarm Hezbollah, to remove this threat both from Israel and from Lebanon. Everybody who's been watching over the last few days has realized the magnitude of the arsenal of weapons which the Hezbollah has amassed over the last few years, and we have to put an end to it, and we have to see to it that it's disarmed.

KING: Are you happy that Secretary Rice is now in your country?

GILLERMAN: We're always very happy to have Secretary Rice in our country. We trust her implicitly and we trust this administration. We are sure that her trip will be very beneficial, and hopefully she'll be able to find a solution which will bring an end to this horrible conflict.

KING: Human Rights Watch says that Israel has used artillery fired cluster munitions in populated areas of Lebanon. True?

GILLERMAN: Israel uses only ammunition and only weapons which are allowed under international law. It's our enemies, the terrorists who are launching rockets and missiles filled with ball bearings in order to cause as much damage and as much pain to civilians as they possibly can.

KING: So many more every day it seems, somebody else is asking for a cease-fire. Why does Israel remain opposed?

GILLERMAN: Because a cease-fire would be a totally false pretense. We've seen the danger which the Hezbollah poses. The Hezbollah is an arm of the Iranians and the Syrians, who are the main sponsors of terror all over the world, not just in Israel. And if we allow Hezbollah to remain with this threat, to remain with these weapons, we will cause pain not just to Israel but to the whole region.

I mean, the Hezbollah is a cancerous growth which has infiltrated the whole of Lebanon. When you start excising a tumor, you don't stop in the middle, sew the patient up and say TO HIM, now live with it until it kills you. You make sure THAT it's totally removed. Hezbollah has to be totally eliminated and never allowed to terrorize either Lebanon or Israel again.

KING: Thank you, ambassador. We'll be calling on you a lot. Ambassador Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. We'll be back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.


KING: Joining us from New York is Ambassador Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the United States. We have an e-mail question for you as well. It's from Rebekah of Bel Air, Maryland. "How long can all the displaced Lebanese stay in Syria?"

IMAD MOUSTAPHA, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Well, we have opened totally our borders for the Lebanese. More than 200,000 have been -- have entered the Syrian borders in the past 10 days. And many millions have left their homes and towns from southern Lebanon into other places in Lebanon.

So in general, they are welcome to stay in Syria as long as the need is there. However, we hope this will not take a long time. Once Israel will stop its policy of killing civilians, bombarding cities, and attacking civilians in Lebanon, once Israel will stop this, those civilians, innocent civilians can go back to their towns and cities.

KING: Are you surprised, Mr. Ambassador, that Secretary Rice did not visit your country?

MOUSTAPHA: To be honest with you, no, we are not surprised. We do not believe that the United States today believes in diplomacy. We have not seen any diplomacy today in the Middle East. What we have seen was Secretary Rice dictating to the Lebanese the Israeli demands and requirements, nothing else.

Diplomacy is about engagement, about finding creative solutions to crisis, not about exactly telling one side, the underdog, the weaker side what they are supposed to do without even trying to hear from them their complaints. KING: Does Washington and Damascus in your opinion therefore have to talk?

MOUSTAPHA: Definitely they have to talk. There is a crisis. Syria wants to constructively engage in the Middle East crisis. We want to find a comprehensive solution that takes into account all the problems in the Middle East, starting with the cause issue, the occupation.

The word that is never, ever mentioned when things are discussed among the Israelis and the Americans. Particularly the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Of course the occupation of the Syrian Golan and the occupation of the Lebanese Shebaa farms.

KING: How aligned is Syria with Iran?

MOUSTAPHA: Syria is a country that has been defending the Arab cause since the early, early start of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Now Iran is taking a position in support of what's going on now in the Middle East, supporting the Arab cause and calling for Israel to end its occupation of our territories and calling on Israel to stop bombarding and killing Lebanese civilians. We don't see anything wrong in this.

KING: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Ambassador Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the United States. We go to Ramallah now on the West Bank. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, the Palestinian legislator, former candidate for the presidency of the Palestinian National Authority. What do you make of the secretary's visit?

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN LEGISLATOR: Well I think the secretary has to answer to one very particular question. Will the United States be part of the conflict or part of the solution? If the United States wants to be part of the solution, it has to be evenhanded in this conflict, and it is not at the moment. It is on one side, on the Israeli side.

Second, it has to support a comprehensive approach to solving the problem, and that means supporting negotiations and not escalation of the military conflict.

And finally, I think the United States should support calling for an international peace conference to put all the issues on the table and resolve them.

KING: Your prime minister said that the United States should make Israel stop its aggression. Do you think it can?

BARGHOUTI: Absolutely. If there is a country in the world that could stop the Israeli aggression in Lebanon and in Gaza, it is the United States.

And let me tell you, while I was listening to the Israeli ambassador, I could not stop myself from thinking -- and you know, I am a medical doctor by education -- I could not stop myself from thinking, this is exactly the behavior that we used to see from bad surgeons. When the surgeon says the operation was successful and wonderful, but the patient died. And there is a huge military operation in Lebanon, but the outcome is going to be the total destruction of Lebanon, losses on the Lebanese side, losses on the Israeli side.

This Israeli government is bringing Israel back 24 years. And this is not good, neither for Palestinians, nor Israelis, nor Lebanese.

Israel has become so used to using violence, military action and military operation instead of negotiating, they don't want even to speak about negotiations. And this is not the solution.

I was today in Nablus, and I saw something horrible in the West Bank. The Israeli army has destroyed all the structures of the Palestinian Authority, including Abbas' offices. Why do they do that? Such a destruction that has left so many families suffering. I saw a man that lost his third son in this attack. I saw a man who was 20 years in jail and he lost his only son in this attack. This is not good.

Military actions, more violence, more wars will not solve the problem. I think now the United States has a great responsibility, and this responsibility is to call for negotiations and put all the issues on the table. There is no military solution to this conflict.

KING: Thank you, Doctor. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian legislator.

When we come back, a really extraordinary story. We're going to meet Faerlie Wilson, a 24-year-old American who lives and works in Beirut and who refuses evacuation. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now on the phone from Beirut is Faerlie Wilson. Faerlie is a 24-year-old American who lives and works in Beirut and refuses to be evacuated. Where exactly are you, Faerlie?

FAERLIE WILSON, REFUSES TO BE EVICTED FROM BEIRUT: I am currently standing on my balcony, which is in Ashrafiya, which is the eastern part of central Beirut.

KING: What do you do in Beirut?

WILSON: I work for "Executive" magazine, which is a local business magazine.

KING: How long have you lived there?

WILSON: I've lived here for about half a year now, but I've been coming here for six years, and all together probably spent about a year and a quarter.

KING: Where's your home in the United States?

WILSON: I'm from San Mateo, California.

KING: Why do you stay there?

WILSON: Well, first of all, I just want to say, I think saying I'm refusing to leave is a little bit dramatic. Nobody's actually come and asked me to leave. I'm just choosing to stay here.

As for why I would choose to stay here, I guess I still believe in Lebanon. This is a really incredible country. I think a lot of Americans have an idea that it's desert and camels and bombed-out buildings, but really, Lebanon is a country of red-roofed villages and lush valleys and mountains and the sea, and it's so beautiful here.

And it's also just an incredibly fun place to live. Nightlife is unbelievable. The people are so friendly. And I don't know, just as long as I've been living here, every morning I've woken up and just felt so grateful to be living in Beirut. And I guess I just -- I love this place and I feel like it's given me enough. But I'm not really ready to turn my back on it yet.

KING: Do you have family in California?

WILSON: Yes. My parents and my sister still live there.

KING: What do they think of your staying?

WILSON: Well, they've been incredibly supportive. They're obviously concerned about me, but they know I live in a safe part of the city, and I've promised them that if that ceases to be true I will leave for the Lebanese countryside or leave the country. But for now, I'm staying, and they trust my decision.

KING: Are you one of -- do you know other Americans doing the same?

WILSON: Yes. Actually, my roommate and her boyfriend are both also Americans here. I have several colleagues who are staying. It's not as uncommon as I think people think from all the images we've seen of the evacuation.

KING: If it got worse, would you leave?

WILSON: Of course. I mean, I don't want to die. I don't want to lose limbs or anything like this. But right now, I don't feel that I'm actively in danger here, and so I'd rather stay.

KING: We had on...

WILSON: I believe in this country.

KING: Last night, we had on the celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who was in Beirut when the bombing started. And he said the contrast was incredible, heartbreaking, the Beirut before the bombing and the Beirut after. Do you agree?

WILSON: Absolutely. I mean, it couldn't be more stark. As I said in my article on, it just went from -- especially with the World Cup, the streets of Beirut were absolutely packed every night. People were out until 7:00 in the morning. Every restaurant, every bar was packed to capacity. And now it's just -- it's completely empty. And it really is -- it's heartbreaking for us.

KING: Were you in New York on 9/11?

WILSON: I was in New York on 9/11.

KING: Do you ever get to think that maybe there's a cloud following you around?

WILSON: Well, actually, I have a friend who was also in New York on 9/11 who's here now, and we were both actually in London on 7/7, but she was also in Pakistan for the earthquake. So we've decided it's her, not me, and I'm just a coincidence.

KING: And you were in London on the day of the bombings there?


KING: Do you go to work every day?

WILSON: Yes. I've been going to work actually every day, even the weekends now. We're incredibly busy.

KING: Who do you blame in all of this?

WILSON: You know, right now I just -- I basically feel that I'm on Lebanon's side. I'm on the side of everyone who thinks that this is a country worth saving. And I'm against anyone who would destroy that. So obviously, right now my fear and anger is primarily towards Israel, because they're the ones who are dropping the bombs on us.

KING: Good luck to you, Faerlie. We're going to keep in touch with you.

WILSON: OK, thank you.

KING: We've run out of time. But thank you very much. It's very early in the morning, and we appreciate you doing that. Faerlie Wilson, the American who stays in Beirut despite it all, one the phone with us from Beirut, from her apartment.

Right now, it's on to Haifa for "ANDERSON COOPER 360." AC, go.


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