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Israeli Bus Attack Ignites New Fears; Clinton Tries To Salvage A Truce; More Violence In Israel-Hamas Conflict; Mall Of America Goes "Teen Less"

Aired November 21, 2012 - 10:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. A new flash point in the Israel-Gaza conflict threatens to implode today's peace talks.

A bomb rips apart a bus in Tel Aviv, Israel's second largest city. Twenty two people are injured and tensions across the region rise again.

Hamas praises this attack. It is not claiming responsibility. In the meantime, in Gaza, civilians cleared the streets and brace for new Israeli strikes.

As you can see Gaza City didn't have long to wait for this barrage of rockets. The Israeli attacks just minutes ago reportedly targeted a sports stadium.

This morning, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting with Israeli and Arab leaders as planned, but as of this hour, the challenge of brokering a ceasefire grows even more daunting.

Secretary Clinton condemned the bus attack in Tel Aviv, as she scrambles to salvage any hope for that peace agreement. For the second straight day she's meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Earlier she sat down with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and right now, she is in Cairo meeting with Egypt's president.

Mohamad Morsy is trying to broker a ceasefire. We're actually expecting a live statement from Clinton and Morsy any moment now. When that happens, of course, we'll bring it to you live.

But let's go to Jerusalem now and Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, I just wanted to ask you about this bus attack in Tel Aviv. How large of a shadow does it cast over this peace process?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": It's a very big shadow because it's the first time in at least I'm guessing about six years that Tel Aviv has seen a terrorist incident like this, right in the heart of Tel Aviv. Not that far away from the real commercial hub of the city. Regular bus and about 20 people were injured. No one was killed. Apparently, a terrorist threw a bomb or whatever on the bus and escaped. The Israelis did arrest someone later, but it proved to be a false arrest and they let that person go.

So there is someone on the loose right now who committed this. There are various groups claiming responsibility, although authoritatively no one has yet claimed responsibility. Hamas did praise the incident, celebrated it, but didn't claim responsibility for it.

One terrorist group on the West Bank claimed responsibility, but it's unclear from Israeli analysts if that's realistic or just a group trying to claim credit for something that they had no involvement.

Whatever it was, it puts added pressure on the prime minister of Israel who is in a delicate situation right now because already those rockets and missiles coming in from Gaza and Israel, hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in fear there.

What's going on in Gaza is obviously horrible as well. So it's a bad situation. We'll see if Hillary Clinton in Cairo with the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy can wrap up a deal. And if they can, that would be pretty amazing.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about that meeting that's taking place right now. So Egyptian people back the Palestinian side and there's this bus attack today. If (INAUDIBLE) in that meeting between Mohamed Morsy and Hillary Clinton, what do you suppose Hillary Clinton is saying to President Morsy?

BLITZER: I think she is praising him and the Israelis are as well. They are saying he is doing a very responsible job in trying to broker a ceasefire.

He has influence with Hamas in Gaza and the Hamas leaders who are based outside of Gaza. And I think the U.S., the Israelis, others are very happy with the role that Egypt is playing right now.

If there's a deal, Egypt's stature and the new government, a Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt that stature will be enhanced. That will be good for Egypt. It will be good for President Morsy presumably it will generate some economic assistance coming into Egypt.

They have severe economic problems right now. So I think the Egyptians really want to see a deal. I know Hillary Clinton would like to emerge from this meeting with President Morsy and announced that there has been an agreement.

There's a possibility -- I don't know if this is going to happen, but we did see a little bit of unscheduled shuttle diplomacy by the Secretary of State (INAUDIBLE), originally met last night, late into the night with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Then this morning went to Ramallah to meet with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and then she came back here to Jerusalem to meet for a second time with Prime Minister Netanyahu before flying to Cairo for the meetings with Morsy and other Arab leaders there including leaders of the Arab league.

So we'll see what she can achieve. I wouldn't rule out the possibility though she's engaging a little bit of shuttle diplomacy. She comes from Cairo right back here to Jerusalem for another round of talks and try to wrap this with the Israeli prime minister and his government.

As she comes back here, I think that would be a hopeful sign that there's still a possibility of a deal.

COSTELLO: And again we're expecting some sort of live statement from President Morsy and Hillary Clinton momentarily. When that happens we'll bring it to you live. Wolf Blitzer, thanks so much.

Let's stay with that bombing on that Tel Aviv bus. Ben Hartman is a reporter for "The Jerusalem Post." He was near the scene of that explosion earlier today.

Ben, welcome. Thank you for being here.

BEN HARTMAN, REPORTER, "JERUSALEM POST" (via telephone): Thank you for having me.

COSTELLO: Tell me what was it like when that bomb went off?

HARTMAN: Well, I think it brought many people in Tel Aviv back to the era of the terror attacks in the second into Fatah. There hasn't been one -- like Wolf said. There hasn't been on in Tel Aviv in about seven years.

This kind of brings people back to that era and it causes a great deal of worry and whatnot with the people. The actual scene of the bombing from the images Israelis are used to from terror attacks, it didn't have the same level of carnage.

What I saw, the windows were blasted out, but you didn't see a charred skeleton of a bus. Judging by the fact that there's not expected to be any fatalities, and a relatively small number of casualties, it doesn't appear it was a large-scale explosion or anything like that Israel has seen in the past.

It appears to be that it was possibly some sort of improvised explosive device, but potential not even from maybe a major terrorist organization, though the police and the head of the public security administration say they have indications about what organization is responsible, but it appears there was damage.

This was not as serious as ones in the past, but regardless, it brings back that fear and that concern among the Israeli public, definitely.

COSTELLO: Yes, we're seeing some of the pictures you have seen on the television screen. I just wanted to make people aware that those were your pictures. The Iron Dome, Israel's missile defense system has been pretty effective during this conflict. Do you think -- is there a fear we'll see more attacks like the attacks on this bus in Tel Aviv, because the Iron Dome was working so well?

HARTMAN: That's one concern, one concern that a number of people have said because the Iron Dome is quite successful. It's not 100 percent successful. Quite a few things do get through, as we saw last night.

But nonetheless the fact that it's quite successful and Israelis can get to bomb shelters does plenty the worry that they're going to find other ways to get around that, to go for the southeast underbelly, to try to take out terror attacks on civilian populations in the way that they can do it.

In terms of these terror attacks, they hit the heart of Israeli public and really do cause a great deal of concern. I think in terms of the ceasefire, I think a suicide -- regardless, a bombing in the center of Tel Aviv could potential affect public opinion in Israel.

Either in favor of a ground operation or ceasefire because it does take those people back to the past, what was a difficult time here. It was right near at the major hospital and this is something I think will have certain psychological effects here.

COSTELLO: Explain to us -- Tel Aviv is a beautiful city, you know, lot foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv. A lot of corporate headquarters are located there. Tell us a little bit about the city itself?

HARTMAN: Well, in general, I mean, Tel Aviv, you know, is quite a vibrant city. It always is depicted of being what they call the Tel Aviv bubble, relatively untouched by the conflict, untouched, seeing itself as something of an island in the Middle East.

With great night life, even in the middle of the workday, the cafes are full, the beaches are full. So that's a stark contrast when acts of violence happen. Even with that image, which is very true, during the second independent Fatah, they did take place in Tel Aviv.

So this city was by no means untouched, it suffered many attacks in the past, but the population is very resilient, and the people are living their daily lives going to the clubs and the cafes.

Almost as a point and because that's -- I wouldn't expect to see day- to-day life in Tel Aviv come to a halt just like I wouldn't expect to see it in general in Israel.

COSTELLO: Well, I admire the courage of everyone there. Ben Hartman from "The Jerusalem Post," thanks for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.

HARTMAN: Thanks for having me.

COSTELLO: We are hearing some explosions on the ground in Gaza after that bus explosion in Tel Aviv. This is the scene there this morning. You can see several of the explosions there in the distance.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is on the ground there. He's on the phone right now. Ben, tell us more.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, it's been a fairly loud afternoon in Gaza City, particularly picked up after news spread of the bus attack in Tel Aviv. In fact about 35 to 40 minutes after that attack happened, a very loud explosion went off right in front of our office. Here it is.

This evening we've always been hearing a fair amount of artillery in this area as well, sort of coming from the south going to the north towards the northern suburbs of Gaza City. If you recall, last night yesterday evening Gaza time at this time we were talking about the very good possibility of a cease-fire.

Even though U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Cairo meeting with Egyptian officials trying to push forward a ceasefire, we're not seeing anything here in Gaza that could be described as a ceasefire.

COSTELLO: I'd like to ask you about something else, Ben. Christiane Amanpour, she just had a worldwide exclusive interview in Cairo with Hamas' political leader, Khalid Michel.

She asked him about who he thought was responsible for this bombing in Tel Aviv and Christiane tells, she say the bottom line, Hamas and Michel are not claiming responsibility.

But officials have gone on there to praise it saying it must be vengeance Dalo family in Gaza. Tell us why this Hamas leader might be connecting the two?

WEDEMAN: Well, I think what we have seen in the past is it was not done by any of their members, but it's a natural reaction, which is the phrase used by one Hamas official here to the situation in Gaza.

Specifically referring to the Delu family, which is a family of 10 or 11 people who were killed including the very young children and elderly people as well on, I believe, Sunday. It was sort of the largest single death toll for one Israeli air strike since the beginning of this 8-hour, this eighth day conflict.

COSTELLO: Ben Wedeman reporting live from Gaza City. Thanks so much, Ben. We're going to let you go.

Still ahead, we're waiting for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to speak about the peace talks between Israel and Gaza. We'll bring you her comments live.


COSTELLO: There is no sign the Middle East the conflict letting up. A bus bombing this morning in Tel Aviv injured 22 people. There are now reports of a sports stadium being targeted in Gaza. In fact just moments ago, we heard some giant explosions in Gaza City. In the midst of all of this, peace talks are ongoing between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy right now.

We're expecting a live news conference from them at any moment. Of course, when that occurs, we'll bring that to you live. Martin Indyk is a former U.S. ambassador to Israel. He joins us live from Washington. Thank you so much for being here, sir.


COSTELLO: So you are well versed in detente. So this bus attack happens in Tel Aviv and the Israelis are apparently retaliating so Hillary Clinton is sitting down talking with the Egyptian president. What does he say?

INDYK: Well, I think it just underscores the urgency of her mission and forging a partnership with the Egyptian president to try to bring the violence to a halt as quickly as possible. The great danger here, of course, is provocations like that terrorist bombing in Tel Aviv will have the army move into Gaza.

And then we're dealing with a situation that's much harder to bring under control and has some very negative consequences overall within the region, potential threatening the peace treating, the Israel/Jordan peace treaty and American's position in the region.

She has an urgent task of trying to get on the same page as Presidents Morsy. So she can in effect deliver Hamas to a ceasefire and she can deliver Israel to a ceasefire, one that will hopefully go beyond stopping the firing and actually lay the basis for a more stable arrangement going into the future.

COSTELLO: So at this time yesterday, we were all talking about there, maybe a ceasefire agreement. Hamas came out and said it. The Egyptian Authorities came out and said it. Israel did not, however. What did you make of all of that?

INDYK: Well, it's hard to know. I don't have any inside information, but from my experience with these things, number one, Middle East always takes longer than you think.

Number two, when people put out words of ceasefire, they're usually trying to pressure the other side to agree to something. I think that what probably happened in this case is that Hamas and the Egyptian government agreed on a ceasefire arrangement.

But they didn't have the Israelis in agreement on it. So they announced agreement with a vital part of it missing. I can't tell for sure whether the Israelis were ready to do it and backed off, whether they decided to wait for Hillary Clinton to come in to see whether they could get a more long lasting arrangement out of it.

This is all unknown I think it's wise, especially for people in the media not to build up these kinds of announcements into sure things until we actually see the agreement reached by both sides, and time for implementation, and then of course the actual implementation.

COSTELLO: Advice taken, Martin Indyk from the Brookings Institute, former ambassador, thank you for being with us this morning.

INDYK: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Here in the United States, many in the Tea Party Movement lost their congressional seats this past election. So is the Tea Party over? If it isn't, where does it go from here?


COSTELLO: We are just two days away from one of the biggest shopping days of the year that would be Black Friday. Time to hit the mall, but if you plan on sending your teenager to the Mall of America alone, you might want to rethink that. The mall is actually banning teenagers without adults.

Alison is in New York, why?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this isn't about the man controlling your kid contrary to what many believe when they hear this. The mall says is it's about a safety issue, tightening a policy that already has been in place since 1986.

It requires kids who are under 16 to be accompanied by somebody who is 21 or older on Fridays and Saturdays after 4:00 in the afternoon. Those hours will be in effect on Thursday night and all day Black Friday, as well as the entire week between Christmas and New Year's.

Now this is a big place. Almost 220,000 shoppers came to the mall on Black Friday last year and crowds that size can be overwhelming, so the mall wants to make sure that everyone has a safe experience.

Some parents are saying, wait a minute, good responsible kids shouldn't be penalized like this, but retailers I'm thinking probably don't mind this role, though. People typically spend more when they shop as a family. Guess who the kids will be with? Adults with the big fat wall either willing to spend.

COSTELLO: You're right about that. Of course, you know, there was a big chair-throwing incident at the mall last year. Doesn't that have something to do with this?

KOSIK: You know, it could be playing a role. There were some videos that went viral. You know, when it comes to this policy, a big part of the concern is that some parents say that the mall says that they use it as a baby-sitter.

He leave them alone, some of whom are very young, but isn't the holidays about shopping together and not using the mall as your baby- sitter?

COSTELLO: It's a beautiful thing. Alison, I got to run the as promised, Hillary Clinton and the Egyptian is it President Morsi are giving a statement in Egypt. Let's listen. That's the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon. They're snapping pictures. That usually takes a couple minutes. We'll get to a break. When we come back, hopefully they'll begin speaking. We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: All right, we are expecting Secretary f State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian president to speak momentarily. This is a photo op before the big speech. You see Mohammed Morsi and Hillary Clinton. Also the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon is in the room. When this press conference gets going, we'll bring it to you live.


Let's talk some American politics here in the good old United States. Todd Akin, Richard Murdoch and now Florida Republican Alan West, the list of Tea Party candidates who suffered defeat in the last election just keeps growing.

Founders of the Tea Party Movement say their cause is very much alive though that they've been called down for -- but now with more key members losing their seats in Congress. Are we seeing an end to the --