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Crisis in the Middle East: Clinton Administration, Israeli Government Announce Emergency Peace Summit PreconditionsAired October 13, 2000 - 9:09 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Back to the Middle East, let's check the White House. You heard just a short time ago talk of a possible summit taking place in Sharm el-Sheik in south Egypt, possibly this weekend.
Major Garrett, live now, tracking the latest from the White House.
Major, any late word on the possibility of this summit taking place?
MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.
The White House is working very hard to see if it is worth convening a summit later this weekend, possibly in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. The President expected to make several telephone calls to leaders throughout the Middle East on that very topic.
But CNN developed some information just now about the Israeli position on whether it would participate in such a summit. An Israeli official telling CNN just a few moments ago and outlining their preconditions for involving themselves in a summit. And let me read those preconditions to you. First of all, this Israeli official said that the summit must be convened with the express purpose of causing an immediate cease to the violence throughout the region. Secondarily, that summit must produce an agreed upon timetable for the Israelis and the Palestinians to reconvene the peace process itself and a direct commitment from the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, to choose the political path over the path of violence, this Israeli official says.
So, in conclusion, this Israeli official said that nobody wants to attend a summit that is merely a photo op. So, clearly the Israeli government laying down its markers for its participation in the summit, wants to make that summit, first and foremost, devoted to ending the violence in the region, but also to get a full and complete commitment from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to commit to a returning to the peace table with a framework for what those discussions will be about and a timetable for when those discussions will commence and a full commitment to continue on that process of talking peace, instead of reverting at any stage in the future back to violence. Now this is not exactly what the administration has been saying about the peace process or the summit. Administration officials telling us earlier this morning that what the White House wants to see today out of the region is a cessation violence and a announcement -- unequivocal announcement from both Mr. Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to call an end to the violence.
And this is how the administration this morning characterized what a summit might accomplish. Let me quote a senior administration official directly. "The intent of a summit would be to extend a period of calm and help both sides walk back from where they are. A declaration to end the violence could lower the temperature. The announcement of a summit and the actual convening of a summit could further lower the temperature. Then both sides could address what both sides have to do." That's the administration's perspective. I've just added to you the Israeli government's perspective.
That's what we know here at the White House, back to you, Bill.
HEMMER: All right, Major.
Major Garrett from the White House. We'll be in touch.
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