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Jerusalem: Middle East on the Brink

Aired March 31, 2002 - 20:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Today more suicide bombings rock Israel. The latest, a restaurant in the town of Haifa.


AMRAN MITZNA, MAYOR OF HAIFA: We are still trying to identify those who (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the restaurant. We're (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of our citizens.


ANNOUNCER: Israeli and Palestinian citizens. The reaction, a declaration of war on terrorism from Israel.


ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The state of Israel is in a war, a war against terrorism. It's a war that is being imposed upon us. It's not one that we have chosen to undertake. It's a war for our home.


ANNOUNCER: And from the Palestinians ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had mentioned that the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) had wrote the names, what could they have done with our people? We have done the same, which the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) have done for them.


ANNOUNCER: The Middle East is on the brink. The U.S. and the U.N. are calling for a cease-fire. What's next? War or peace?


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening once again. Live in Jerusalem, new evidence again today on Easter Sunday, but the situation here in the region will get worse before it gets better. Two more suicide bombings today and the Israeli government Ariel Sharon indicating that there will be no cease-fire until the infrastructure of terrorism is uprooted -- his words earlier tonight to the Israeli people.

How long that takes is anybody's guess, but right now the Israeli military on the move, on the map you see right here in the town of Qalqilya right along the green line in the West Bank an Israel proper, dozens of tanks, possibly as many as 100 on the move hours ago, also military activity in Bethlehem taking place as well. It is called Operation Protective Wall.

Sources told us earlier today that the campaign would widen and apparently it has. In fact, a few moments ago behind me the old city, we spotted five Israeli tanks on the move on the back of tractor trailers, not clear where they're headed, but obviously they are on the move tonight. All this now against the back drop of two more suicide bombings, the worst hitting what was considered an integrated neighborhood in the coastal town of Haifa. It is said that Israeli- Arabs and Israeli-Jews both liked to go to a particular restaurant and today that restaurant was the scene of bloody carnage. Ben Wedeman, up late tonight, joining us from the scene from there.

Ben, good evening.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good evening Bill. We are outside the restaurant, the Matza Center Restaurant, a very popular neighborhood restaurant where according to hospital sources, at least 14 people dead in addition to the suicide bomber. More than 30 wounded, seven critically. All of these people who were killed in the restaurant were simply ordinary people going about their ordinary lives.


(voice-over): They had come for a simple midday meal in a neighborhood restaurant. The bomb went off at 2:45 p.m. The restaurant crowded with lunchtime customers. The victims included Israeli-Jews and Arabs. The blast shocked this mixed Jewish-Arab city, a city that has traditionally prided itself on communal harmony. The restaurant manager, an Israeli-Arab, was just down the street when he heard the explosion.

NIKKI MATZA, STORE OWNER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that maybe something happened, with that electricity, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bomb. I couldn't imagine that a bomb could actually come to this place, but terror doesn't know Arabs and Jews, so.

WEDEMAN: Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing. The bomber reportedly came from the Palestinian town of Janin. Haifa residents echo the rising calls for harsher action against Israel's enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Israel has to take matter to his hand in the strictest force possible and do anything possible just to eliminate anybody who has to do anything with this kind of -- can you see people come to eat and they blow them up.

WEDEMAN: Security has been severely tightened here since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising. MITZNA: National police, the local police issued already instructions that in a restaurants, bars, cafes and in shopping center we will have security personnel checking those who are coming in.

WEDEMAN: In this case, however, there was no security guard on duty outside the restaurant not for the first time nor probably the last. Young Israelis light candles for those killed without a moment's warning.


WEDEMAN: Now many Israelis after the two suicide bombings today are worried that such bombings, Bill, are about to become a daily occurrence.

Now joining me right now is one of those young Israelis you saw in the -- around those candles holding a vigil. I'm with Alon Peled. He's a 17-year old student here, and he's come here because one of his friends (UNINTELLIGIBLE) also 17 was killed in that blast.

Alon, there is such a danger these days just going out. Why do people still go to restaurants, go to cafes, go to supermarkets?

ALON PELED, FRIEND KILLED IN BLAST: Well, I think that if we have fear in our hearts, then they actually win. I mean they strike terror in us, so if we don't go anywhere and just stay home afraid all of the time, we lose. That's the only reason, I think. We have to keep our hopes up. I mean just that's it.

WEDEMAN: Now how do you feel in the wake of this bombing? You lost a good friend, a place where you told me that you were going to come here until you heard this bombing took place. How do you feel living in a city that until now with the exception of one bus bombing, has been relatively peaceful?

PELED: Well, it's frightening. I mean the only thing that happens here you hear in Jerusalem, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all the -- all these other places, but now we think it's here actually. Well now I know it's here. It's like very frightening. I can't describe it actually.

WEDEMAN: Now you're 17 years old. In October you told me you will go into the Army, are you worried that you're going to have a career in the Army that is going to be one of fighting, of putting your life on the line and possibly this could go on for many years to come.

PELED: Well there's always that fear that something might happen to me. But I know that the chances are less than I'm actually going to get hurt. But it can happen. That's funny. I mean I think everybody has this fear in them of going to the Army and getting hurt. I mean it's like a fear that every parent fears that his child will actually die. It's something that we can't imagine actually.

WEDEMAN: Now just two years ago the peace process was still alive. Things were moving ahead. There were complications. Did you think just two years ago that the situation would come to this?

PELED: Never that I thought it would be this bad and it's horrifying.

WEDEMAN: All right, thank you very much. That was Alon Peled, a 17-year old student who spent the evening, in fact the night here to pay respect to a lost friend. Back to you Bill.

HEMMER: Ben, thank you. Ben Wedeman on the scene late tonight there in Haifa. I mentioned another suicide bombing earlier. It took place in the town of Efrat not too far from our location here in Jerusalem, not nearly as bad as Haifa. Nonetheless, four injuries reported there, one fatality, that of the suicide bomber dead on the scene. In total that is five bombings now in five-days time and Palestinian militants showing Israeli that they can hit just about anywhere any day of the week.

On Wednesday it was Netanya, Friday Jerusalem, Saturday Tel Aviv, and on Sunday Efrat in the town of Haifa. Meanwhile several hours ago the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon went on national television to address his people. It was a brief address, lasted about four minutes time, but it was very direct and very to the point.

Ariel Sharon says right now his country is not looking back when it comes to uprooting what he calls the infrastructure of terrorism now operating, he says, in Gaza and in the West Bank. He made it quite clear that his country right now is locked in a struggle for survival.


SHARON (through translator): The state of Israel is in a war, a war against terrorism. It's a war that is being imposed upon us. It's not one that we have chosen to undertake, the war for our home. The state of Israel under my leadership has made every effort in order to achieve a cease-fire. Every single moment since I was elected in the midst of the way for Palestinian and terrorism, we have set for ourselves the goal of achieving peace and quiet in order to be able to undertake political, diplomatic negotiations.

We have cooperated with the American emissary Zinni and we've received terrorism in return. We've cooperated with Vice President Dick Cheney and we've received terrorism in return.


HEMMER: Ariel Sharon again earlier tonight the Israeli prime minister addressing his people here on national television. Meanwhile the Palestinians quickly after that address simply addressed it out of hand saying Ariel Sharon right now does not have, in their words, credibility, and they also indicate that they feel Ariel Sharon has been waiting for this very conflict.

Meanwhile Yasser Arafat, day three now, holed up inside of what remains of that besieged compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Only three rooms left, we are told. But on Sunday, Easter Sunday, some visitors did arrive there. Michael Holmes reports now from Ramallah.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It began before dawn, gunfire, then Israeli soldiers took a Palestinian man from his home, made him show them he was unarmed and then forced him to accompany them to a Palestinian police station -- the police already gone. Later more gunfire, another search, this time of the Ramallah municipal offices. At times heavy fighting, tanks shells and machine guns in various suburbs. Large numbers of troops in the city center, roads to Arafat's compound barricaded. But the barricades did not prevent this bizarre sight. Palestinian doctors, behind them dozens of foreigners, members of a fairly new group calling itself Grass Roots International Protection for the Palestinian People -- mainly Europeans, some Americans, one Israeli.

They carried white flags and a perhaps whole hearty determination. The group didn't break stride as they walked across the compound past stunned Israeli troops and towards Arafat's building. Israeli soldiers fired warning shots well away from the group. One shrugged as we entered the besieged building as if to say what are you doing. Then only about 40 steps away from those Israeli soldiers, we walked past equally perplexed and heavily armed Palestinian security officers.

One of them asked us for cigarettes. Everyone seemed stunned. Nobody searching the backpacks many in this uninvited group carried into Arafat's building. Within a minute a guard called from upstairs, CNN come. We did and others followed. All of us searched for the first time on the way upstairs. Then into a conference room of amused and smiling Arafat waiting with advisers. No questions they said, but I asked anyway.

Do you feel ...

YASSER ARAFAT, PALESTINIAN LEADER: And the most important thing is not what I am facing because for me it is not the first time. He has to remember what happened in 18 (ph) days in Beirut, but the most important what our people are facing -- are facing day by night.

HOLMES: Of the group of perhaps 40, maybe 25 or 30 elected to stay. To them, their safety not the issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and we are here, a group of international people in solidarity with the Palestinian people against this aggression, against this oppression.

HOLMES: This woman, an Israeli-Jew married to a Palestinian.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What Sharon is doing is devastating not only for the Palestinian people, but also for the Israeli people. He's pushing the Palestinians to the point beyond despair. He's out to destroy the leadership that's willing to make peace with him and leave -- and live side by side in a Palestinian state next to Israel. He wants Hamas jihad suicide bombings. He knows that his policy is increasing that, so then he can say to the world these are terrorists. HOLMES: And this from a Palestinian doctor who's been inside the compound for days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am afraid of the Israeli soldiers, because these three days we've faced a lot of problems (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they don't know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I am a doctor, don't allow to take the wounded people from the other side to here to make (ph) an operation for him.

HOLMES: It was an extraordinary site as the group simply marched past tanks, armored personnel carriers and gunshot to walk into this place. Inside these men say they're not going anywhere. And then a group of us left, gingerly following a white towel, again past two bewildered Israeli troops. They politely searched us and we left.

Yasser Arafat's still isolated, but obviously void by an extraordinary house call.

Michael Holmes, CNN, at the Palestinian Authority compound, Ramallah.


HEMMER: In a moment we're going to go back to Ramallah. It is late in the night. We're going to be joined by a Palestinian doctor who says the Israeli military entered a hospital hours ago, locked all the doctors behind doors and searched that hospital. We'll talk to him on that in a moment.

Also from the Israeli perspective, has the Middle East right now reached a point of no return. That and more when our coverage continues LIVE FROM JERUSALEM in a moment.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, emotions flare on both sides of the crisis. From the Israelis ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last time an incident we stopped (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because we wanted to give (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This time we're going all the way and we're going to destroy the military and terrorist infrastructure that he built around himself because he failed to destroy it. He will be fully protected. We're not going to touch him.


ANNOUNCER: And the Palestinians ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The international community has to tell Sharon that he cannot continue, go on the rampage, target every Palestinian man, woman and child, enter people's towns, villages and homes, kill and destroy Israel, humiliate and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and threaten everybody and expect to have peace and security and tranquility.


ANNOUNCER: What can be done to stop the violence? LIVE FROM JERUSALEM is back in two minutes.


ANNOUNCER: Young Israeli men and women are required to dedicate a portion of their lives to their country's military. The men are required to serve for three years. The women are required to serve for two years.

HEMMER: Ramallah in the West Bank has been a flashpoint for three and a half days right now. Yasser Arafat again holed up inside of his compound. Israeli tanks and troops surrounding that area, but we're also getting indications, words that the Israeli military has gone into a hospital in Ramallah as well.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti works at that hospital. He joins us now by telephone in Ramallah. Doctor, if you can hear me OK, tell us what happened several hours ago based on the reports we were getting through Palestinian officials.

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, MEDICAL RELEASE ASSOCIATION: Well what's happened is that the Israeli Army is not only imposing a curfew (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about 72 hours now since they are not allowing any person out of their houses. Anybody who tries to go out of the house is shot at and killed or injured. Seventy-two hours of complete curfew day and night. More than that, they are invaded buildings, invading houses and now invading hospitals. They invaded the Arab Medical Peer (ph), they forced the doctors, the nurses into one room and prevented them from attending to the patient, even those who will need Intensive Care.

More than that, they're attacking young people everywhere and at least up until now six people have been killed in cold blood and most recently they injured people and did not allow us, the ambulances to get to the injured people. They are arresting even injured people, and some of the injured are bleeding to death because they are not allowed to receive medical care. On top of that, they are establishing ...

HEMMER: Doctor, let me ask you this because the Israeli government believes that in certain hospitals throughout the West Bank there is suspected terrorists hiding out there. They also believe that there could be weapons hidden as well. Are there terrorists or weapons inside of the hospital you were just talking about sir?

BARGHOUTI: There are no terrorists here. This is a lie. This is a big lie. They can say (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so every Palestinian according to the Israeli Army is a terrorist until proven otherwise. What kind of legal system is that? Why are they establishing now a blackout? Why are they pushing journalists out of the country? Because Sharon is planning another massacre like he did in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in 1982. It is so unacceptable that the civilized world is allowing this to happen. How long can the world be silent about these massacres and trends that are happening here?

Why would Israel does not allow journalists even American journalists to be here? Why do the Israelis arrest Europeans including (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the French activist and put them in jail? Why are they doing that? Because they are conducting a massacre, because they are breaking every humanitarian law, an unacceptable manner. Sharon must be stopped. He is a war criminal and he's going to destroy the future of Palestinians and Israelis. He's destroying the potential for peace in this region by his crime, he and his army.

HEMMER: All right, Doctor, thank you for your time tonight. We're going to find out some answers to those very questions you're raising. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti works at that hospital in Ramallah, again, as we were talking about a short time ago. Israeli reaction to this right now coming in quite quickly. Daniel Ayalon, Chief Foreign Adviser for the Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is now our guest this evening. It is late tonight here in Jerusalem. You're hearing the reports out of Ramallah, what he is saying right there, the doctor on the scene, is that all young people on the street are being shot. Some people are being shot and left to die on the streets, in his words, "in cold blood". Is this indeed the case there in Ramallah?

DANIEL AYALON, ARIEL SHARON'S CHIEF FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: No, these are again blatant lies. More lies are being spewed by the Palestinians. On the contrary, what we are doing, we are not going there against the Palestinian people. We are there just to uproot terror. Israel has been under attack, the most cruel and gruesome attack. We have tried our best to bring about cease-fire, but all the answers by them is more terror.

HEMMER: Did your military, sir, go into a hospital in Ramallah and lock doctors in a room earlier today?

AYALON: I cannot go into operation of details. But I can tell you that we are going only after terrorists and terrorist centers and their infrastructure.

HEMMER: You say that you want to uproot that infrastructure, to a lot of people tonight in the Middle East, it appears that this situation is on the brink of reaching the point of no return. How long does it last for this uprooting process?

AYALON: No I don't think we're in the point of no return. I don't think there's any interest here of escalation. I don't see here a major regional conflict, although the Palestinians would like to do it with the terror -- the Palestinian terror, which is a part of an international web. They're attacking us. They're attacking everything that we believe in, our values, and not just us, and 9/11 was just a gruesome and a tragic reminder what happens if you don't fight the terror.

Now we, on the other hand, tried everything to bring about peace. The latest time -- the last time we did it was before the Passover. Short of begging, we did everything in our power to cooperate with General Zinni and to offer a cease-fire. The answer was the Passover massacre. They target every Israeli. They concentrate on children, on people who go to the restaurants, as we showed before, and this cannot go on.

HEMMER: We talked about the military movement in Qalqilya upwards of 100 Israeli tanks moving through there several hours ago. Bethlehem, apparently there's some activity as well. Where else in the West Bank in Gaza is it being carried out tonight?

AYALON: Well again, Bill, I cannot go into operational details, but all I can tell you is that we have to do what we have to do in self-defense. In this type of situation of cruel attack there are two choices. Either you surrender or yourself or you go on the defense and uproot the terror. And if we surrender, this is not a choice because then the world will no longer be as we know it because you know how they advance and attack everywhere with all their might, or three -- do -- is fight the terror as we have to because and we -- and we will win because history is on our side and justice is on our side.

HEMMER: You're going to win in which time? A week? Month?

AYALON: Well again, there are no magic solutions, but if we go constantly and we go after the sources of terror and the sources of terror are in the Palestinian Authority under Arafat's leadership.


HEMMER: Is the Israeli people, then sir, ready for even more suicide bombers to come into your cities?

AYALON: No, no one can be ready for any suicide bombers. Nobody can be ready ...


HEMMER: What will be the response then?

AYALON: Well the response -- it's not a response. Let me tell you that we didn't go into Ramallah. Israeli tanks are not falling into the West Bank before the suicide attacks happened. First we had the terror and then in self-defense we are reacting. There's no really a cycle of violence here. There is a brutal Palestinian terror and we act in self-defense.

HEMMER: Daniel Ayalon, thanks for coming out tonight, chief foreign policy adviser to Ariel Sharon. We shall talk many times in the near future sir.

In a moment here the White House right now finding itself knee deep in the Middle East situation. Again from Crawford, Texas today the president was talking about this issue and there is widespread reaction all across the U.S. Major Garrett is in Crawford, Texas. We will check in on his report when our coverage continues, once again LIVE FROM JERUSALEM.


HEMMER: If you've been with us tonight, there are serious allegations being leveled by the Palestinian side about what is happening right now in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Nonetheless, the violence does continue again today. Two suicide bombings, and the Israeli military once again on the move tonight. We have seen tanks roll by here a short time ago, and certainly, as we mentioned earlier, Qalqilya and Bethlehem, a point of military movement again tonight.

All this with a backdrop of a U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni still in the region. The White House still hopeful and optimistic that they might be able to forge some sort of communication between the two sides; White House strictly not willing to give up on Anthony Zinni at this point.

Nonetheless, the Americans say for him to leave might amount to another small-time failure. He's been here two other times. From Crawford, Texas now, Major Garrett, tracking the administration's next move here in the Middle East.


MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dawn near the president's Crawford, Texas ranch. And as he headed into church with his father and mother to celebrate Easter, this, fresh evidence from Israel about the limits of continued U.S. denunciations of Palestinian terrorism. Death, injuries and anguish in Haifa and in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, a bloody rejoinder to this urgent request of Yasser Arafat from the president on Saturday.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They've got to make it absolutely clear that the Palestinian Authority does not support these terrorist activities and uses its security forces to prevent them from happening.

GARRETT: But that didn't happen. When Arafat met with supporters and reporters on Sunday, the issue was the Israeli occupation, which Arafat compared to the brutality of the Nazis.

YASSER ARAFAT, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN: We're in need of urgent sending international forces to stop this aggression and this escalation, military escalation, against our people, against our cities, against our towns, against our refugee camps.

GARRETT: But the White House opposes international security forces, especially involving U.S. troops. And the immediate security concern is protecting Americans in the Middle East, who may fall victim to future suicide attacks. State Department sources tell CNN a security review is under way.

The Israeli leader Ariel Sharon said his nation is at war, and that even when a cease-fire was close, the Passover massacre left negotiations in ruins.

SHARON (through translator): The only thing we've had in return for our efforts has been terrorism, terrorism and more terrorism.

GARRETT: As the death toll rises and political desperation deepens, calls increase for the president to dispatch Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region. DENNIS ROSS, FORMER U.S. MIDEAST ENVOY: I believe the Bush administration is going to have to raise the level of its involvement. It is not going to be able to stay involved in a way that does not politically engage us. This is not something where diplomacy can work on the cheap.

GARRETT (on camera): But the White House argues the issue is Palestinian terrorism, not whether Powell or presidential envoy Anthony Zinni lead cease-fire talks. What's more, the White House fears dispatching Powell now would reward the very acts of terrorism the president has repeatedly tried to discourage.

Major Garrett, CNN, Crawford, Texas.


HEMMER: Major Garrett again, reporting with the president there in Texas.

In a moment here, what is the U.N.'s role, and is it past the point of helping out the Middle East crisis? In a moment, live to the U.N. on the East Side of Manhattan when our coverage continues here in Jerusalem.


HEMMER: Once again, welcome back. LIVE FROM JERUSALEM. It's late in the evening here, well past 4:30 in the morning. Easter Sunday was yesterday here in the Middle East, and Jerusalem is far from a holy place, and so too is the rest of the region.

There are a number of questions tonight, including many from the United Nations, it was about 48 hours ago when the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution urging the Israelis to pull their tanks back away from Ramallah and Yasser Arafat's compound. Clearly, that has not happened, and it appears on both sides tonight that the Middle East situation continues to escalate further and further into more violence.

Let's talk about this now. Live from New York with us, two representatives for the United Nations, first Yehuda Lancry, Israeli ambassador to the U.N. and with him also is Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian representative to the U.N. as well.

Gentlemen, I really appreciate your time tonight on this Sunday evening back in the U.S. And I want to know, I guess, from both of you, your perspective tonight, because quite clearly in the region it looks like both sides are reaching a point of no return. Dr. Kidwa, do you believe we're at that point right now?

AMBASSADOR NASSER AL-KIDWA, PALESTINIAN REP. TO U.N.: I'm afraid that we are very close to that point, and I think the way out is very clear. We need to immediately implement the provisions of Security Council resolution 14-02, we need a third party presence to bring the situation under control, and we need thirdly a road map toward the final settlement between the two sides. HEMMER: You mentioned at the beginning of your answer that you believe you might be quite close to it. Ambassador Lancry, do you believe we're at that point?

YEHUDA LANCRY, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I always believe that thanks to the mutual recognition between the Palestinians and Israelis, contracted in Oslo during the Oslo agreement, we are in a position, but we can always overcome such a huge tragedies, despite the quite concerning situation where we are, and I do believe that the way out is really to renew the spirit of negotiations and the acceptance of each other.

HEMMER: Ambassador, I think a lot of people from different -- a lot of different parts of the world, excuse me, would like to see the same thing, but Ariel Sharon said tonight in his own words, "there is no cease-fire until they uproot the infrastructure of terrorism." How long that takes is anybody's guess, but clearly the Israeli government has made a decision right now to forge forward on that front, ambassador.

LANCRY: The statement of Prime Minister Sharon is fully in accordance with the provisions of the Oslo agreements. Don't forget that Chairman Arafat took two major commitments, the mutual recognition, but also the commitment to renounce to any form of terrorism or violence in order to achieve these political objectives.

So we'd like, really, to renew the spirit and the letter of the Oslo agreement. It will take some time, maybe, for us to dismantle the infrastructure of the Palestinian terrorism, but Chairman Arafat is now, I think, in a crucial turning point. He can be either the really actor, the statesman of the Palestinian cause or its destroyer, its grave digger.

HEMMER: Dr. Kidwa, your reaction to that, and also what advice would you give to Yasser Arafat right now, when you consider the fact that he has a substantial amount of impact in this part of the world, yet we have heard him for the past several days saying he would like to be a martyr, he talks about young Palestinian boys and girls when they are raising the flag over mosques and churches. Clearly, this is the talk of a man who is inviting this conflict, to a certain degree.

AL-KIDWA: First, the response. I think the statement made by Prime Minister Sharon today is tantamount to a complete rejection of the Security Council's resolution 14-02. And actually what Mr. Sharon is doing, in my opinion, is trying to destroy the Palestinian Authority, trying to actually kill any potential for peace in this region, committing, by the way, all kinds of atrocities, including executions of Palestinians in cold blood. CNN ran -- ran some footage of about five Palestinian policemen who were executed yesterday.

Now with regard to President Yasser Arafat, I can only -- I can only as a Palestinian can suggest that he has to continue his present steadfastness. And what he said about martyrdom was in the face of clear (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by Mr. Sharon and by the Israeli side against his well-being. Now when it comes to ...


HEMMER: Please go ahead. I apologize (UNINTELLIGIBLE) satellite, but what I want to know from you is that you are making accusations that the Israeli government flatly dismisses. They say these Palestinian policemen were caught in a gunfire.

You mentioned at the beginning of your response here a couple of minutes ago, that it's time for a third party. Where is the third party? Is it the U.N., is it the United States? Or knowing that resolution passed in the U.N. yesterday morning and nothing was done upon it or reacting to it, is there a third party that is viable right now?

AL-KIDWA: Yeah, but let me -- let me just one second to finish my first answer. When it comes to flags over Jerusalem, we have never hidden the fact that we want indeed to have the occupied East Jerusalem liberated as the capital of Palestine.

Now when it comes to the third party presence, we accept any kind of third party presence. We accept U.N. observers, we accept U.S. presence, we accept European presence. And frankly, we have never understood why, if the Israelis want only peace, why they do reject third party presence. By the way, we are going back to the Security Council to demand immediate implementation of Resolution 14-02. And in light of the fact that this resolution was not implemented and was even rejected by Prime Minister Sharon.

HEMMER: Ambassador Lancry, we have just a short time left here. I want to give you a final response, and I also want to know from you right now, is the U.N. rendered useless in this Middle East conflict, given what we have seen on the ground here?

LANCRY: Yes, I would like to say the fact that the Palestinian side, also, didn't implement the 14-02 resolution, which calls first and foremost for an immediate and meaningful cease-fire. Instead of this, we got today two suicide bombings, particularly deadly in Haifa, with 16 people killed. And I regret the fact that my Palestinian colleague notes only the losses in the Palestinian side, without any word about the suicide bombings.

AL-KIDWA: We condemn that as well.

LANCRY: I think that a third party, U.N. party in this case, would be acceptable only after both sides achieve final status, a final peace, in order to monitor the peace between them. Right now, the U.N. force has no efficiency, has no efficiency, no effectiveness. This force couldn't inspect the headquarters of Hamas, of Jihad, couldn't prevent the suicide bombings of Al Aqsa Brigades. That is, in short, an additional shield that will allow Mr. Arafat to continue to monitor his terrorist campaign.

HEMMER: Gentlemen, we're out of time. Appreciate your time tonight. Yehuda Lancry and Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, both live in New York tonight.

And quite obviously, there are a number of questions still to be answered, and we do not have all the answers tonight. In fact, we're quite short on them at this point.

In a moment here, Israeli opinion. What do the people think with the continued violence in Israel proper? Are they now changing their opinion about the military action? That's coming up. Also I mentioned it is Easter Sunday in the Middle East, far from it today. It was a dark Easter here in the Holy Land. Back in Jerusalem in a moment.


HEMMER: Once again, back live here in Jerusalem. It was Easter Sunday about five hours ago well into the dark night here in Jerusalem. In the old city earlier today, about 95 percent of the shops have been closed. There has been a three-day strike ever since the siege on Ramallah began, and even if the stores were open, there would be very few tourists to shop there. We saw very few people in the old city today. I asked one Arab store owner if he wanted to talk business, and he said, it would be a very short conversation because there is hardly any business. A Norwegian tour guide tells me that he is lucky to have a group today; 95 percent of the tour operators in his company have lost their jobs in the past year.

With that, Holy Easter and Easter Sunday here today was a bit of a dark day. Mike Hanna now with a look now at the Holy Land, on what should be a holy weekend.


MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The traditional Easter procession takes place against a stark backdrop of violence. A bomb disposal unit, a matter of steps away from Christianity's holiest site, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is the day, according to the calendar of the Western Christian churches, that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. But what should be a time of celebration dampened by what is happening all around.

Among those attending the early Easter Mass, Special U.S. envoy, Anthony Zinni, who is attempting to press ahead with his cease-fire efforts in the face of ever escalating violence.

Among those with him, an old friend who has worked in Jerusalem for nearly two decades.

REV. PETER VASKO, FRANCISCAN MONK: When he came to mass this morning 8:30 in the tomb of our Lord, he was a bit somber. And I think he had a lot of things on his mind. I don't think he rules out that there is no hope what so ever. I think there is hope, but it's very, very thin hope for peace in this land. It's a very difficult situation that they put him into, especially when one side agrees and the other side doesn't agree. It must be very difficult for General Zinni on this point.

HANNA: Difficult for Zinni and difficult for all Christians, Muslims and Jews. The great sense of hope that Easter symbolizes undercut, if not destroyed, by the violence that rages in the Holy Land. On the Mount of Olives above the old city, the Church of Dominos Levit (ph), Latin for the Lord wept. It's built in the shape of a tear, which the Disciple Luke says fell from Jesus' eyes as he foresaw the fate of Jerusalem.

Mike Hanna, CNN, Jerusalem.



HEMMER: Before we leave you tonight, I want to take you back to the town of Ramallah in the West Bank. There is a U.S. citizen right now holed up inside of her home. Her name is Stephanie Koury. She's an attorney; she's been working in Ramallah. And Ms. Koury, if you can hear me tonight, give our viewers a perspective about your situation right now.

STEPHANIE KOURY, AMERICAN CITIZEN: Yes, well, we've been in our homes in my neighborhood for about three days now under kind of full curfew. Our electricity was cut on Friday, when a tank knocked down a pole. And we've just been pretty much confined to our homes, trying to follow the news.

HEMMER: Tell us, if you could, and describe for us the situation on the streets as you've been able to see it, please?

KOURY: Well, from my window, all I see is pretty much tanks moving up and down. People aren't going outside because they are afraid they will get shot. And they just pretty much stay in their homes. It's really tank movement, non-stop.

HEMMER: Are you hearing much exchange of gunfire from either side or between the two sides?

KOURY: I do, I do on a fairly regular basis. You know, when it is happening. Right now it is quiet, but maybe two hours ago there was exchanges of fire, and you hear explosions at times. You can hear it, pretty much, where it's happening from different parts of the city.

HEMMER: If you don't mind me asking, what brought you to Ramallah, as a U.S. citizen?

KOURY: I came back to Ramallah. I'd been living in Gaza doing community development work, and came to Ramallah to do advocacy work based on enforcement of international humanitarian Law, working with a non-governmental organization, that brought me to Ramallah about a year and a half ago -- two years ago. And then I am now serving as a legal adviser to the final status negotiations on Israeli settlements, illegal colonies in the occupied territory.

HEMMER: Given that, and your background and the work you are doing right now, some believe we're at the point of no return, or possibly quite close to it. Do you believe that? KOURY: No, I never believe there is a point of no return. I think we need to look at, though, how once third-party states are intervening and trying to deal with the issue. And what they need to do is bring appropriate rules of behavior back to the game. You know, hold both sides accountable and responsible.

HEMMER: Possibly easier said than done. We shall see. Stephanie Koury, a U.S. citizen right now holed up inside her home in the West Bank town of Ramallah. We appreciate your time tonight.

Final note here right now. A former Middle East negotiator earlier today said there is no peace process right now. The only process at work here is a war process. Watch a couple of things again when the sun comes up in about 90 minutes' time here in the Middle East. Watch and see how far the Israeli military moves, not only in the West Bank or in Gaza, and see how effective those movements are.

In the other side, watch and see how strong the response is from Palestinian militants. Once again, the Middle East, sitting on the brink tonight. We'll be here to watch it.

So long now from Jerusalem. I'm Bill Hemmer. Thanks for watching and do not leave our network. We will keep you abreast of all the movement here in the Middle East. Good night now from Jerusalem.




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