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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Crisis in the Middle East
Aired July 17, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Hezbollah rockets barrage Israel again and again and Israeli airstrikes continue to pummel Beirut and Southern Lebanon.
Meanwhile, the United States military begins evacuating Americans out of the line of fire; as the death toll continues to mount, so do President Bush's frustrations.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over.
KING: What can America do to pull the Mid East back from the brink of war?
We'll ask former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and more, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Lots of coverage tonight beginning with our outstanding journalists on the scene.
We go to Beirut first, Nic Robertson, our CNN Senior Correspondent, lots of things are happening there, attacks and evacuation efforts and diplomacy. Nic, are you near any place that's being bombed?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Larry, there have been several bombs fallen here through the night, the most recent just a couple of hours ago on the southern suburbs of Beirut where a lot of bombs have been falling.
Israelis say they're targeting in that area facilities that Hezbollah uses. From what we understand and the details we get they are targeting around the same areas in the southern suburbs, areas that are residential, areas that people have moved out of for safety.
We also know that the port area was targeted this morning, the port south of here were targeted, the Bekaa Valley to the east, and overnight as well a Lebanese army base was also targeted about 12 miles from here. The Lebanese army says it does have casualties. It won't say how many. Diplomacy efforts have been underway today. The French prime minister here Dominique de Villepin saying that it's going to be difficult that there is no magical solution.
Also the French sending in a ship evacuating some 1,200 Europeans, about 800 French, about 400 Europeans and a few Americans evacuated and then out of here to Cyprus -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Nic Robertson on the scene in Beirut.
Let's go to Larnaca, Cyprus. Standing by is Anderson Cooper, the host of Anderson Cooper 360, which will occur at the ten o'clock hour Eastern Time following this program. He's there to check up on evacuations. What are they bringing them in to Cyprus?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: They are bringing them in. That has already begun and we are anticipating this ferry that Nic was just talking about, a French ferry, chartered by the French should be arriving here at any time.
You probably can't tell. I'm actually standing in the port. Behind me is an Italian destroyer, a ship which brought several hundred Italians and others here arriving this morning.
The French have also begun, as Nic said, to remove their nationals and that ferry should be arriving very soon. We believe there may be as many as 50 Americans onboard that ferry arriving.
Several dozen Americans have already been evacuated on Sunday. That began with some Marine Corps helicopters, which brought Americans here to Cyprus. Some more helicopter shipments took place again today.
But, Larry, that number 25,000 is the number of Americans believed to be in Lebanon. The State Department will not say exactly how many Americans they believe need to, want to get out. That number is simply not known.
But they're trying to bring in a cruise ship. They're also heading destroyers in this area to protect the evacuation, if and when it does begin in full force -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Anderson. We'll be checking back with Anderson Cooper and with Nic Robertson.
Let's go to Haifa and Christiane Amanpour. She'll be with us throughout the hour, CNN's Chief International Correspondent. The latest there in northern Israel, strong speech today by the prime minister, what's happening Christiane?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right strong words from the prime minister and strong fire from the barrel of Israeli tanks and artillery and from the air force as well.
Basically the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert talking to the Knesset and to the nation and saying that they would not be held hostage to what he called terror and that they were going to continue until this was -- until this was defeated.
What they mean is that they want to deal a crippling blow to Hezbollah and they want to reduce and weaken the missile and military capability and actually get Hezbollah to feel the pain so desperately that they then try to seek negotiations and a political solution through Syria or others who can talk for them.
The Israelis want to create a buffer zone. They want the Lebanese army to come and patrol in southern Lebanon and actually reassert authority or assert authority there and sovereignty. And, of course, they want their soldiers back, the two that have been kidnapped.
We talked with senior western diplomats who have said that they do not believe that there is any possibility of a ceasefire until there's a political solution on the table.
Israel does not want to stop this bombing and stop this attack in order just for it to sort of go away for a while and then for it to restart and become another crisis shortly down the road.
And Israel says that it won't go back to "the status quo ante." It wants to see change on the ground. In other words, Hezbollah move back and disarm, difficult to say when that will happen.
And, in the meantime, Hezbollah has been firing rockets into Haifa and other parts of northern Israel. There have been several wounded today. Casualties on this side, of course, not as high by any means as those on the Lebanese side.
And Israelis saying that they're looking to the amount of casualties on the Lebanese side as they calibrate how long they can maintain their bombing before international pressure becomes too difficult.
KING: Christiane Amanpour on the scene in Haifa.
Let's go to Gaza City, Matthew Chance, CNN's Senior International Correspondent, what's the latest on the Israeli military offensive Matthew?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as the Israelis keep up their pressure on Hezbollah in Lebanon, they're also maintaining a certain amount of pressure here against the Palestinian militant group Hamas and other groups in the Gaza Strip.
There's an almost constant barrage of Israeli artillery north of the Gaza Strip. They're trying to bombard the open fields in the north of Gaza from which the militants launch their makeshift rockets into southern Israel. But, of course, there are such injuries in the south of that area. They're continuing that.
Also in the streets of Gaza City many thousands of Palestinians have been coming out to show their support for Hezbollah waving those bright yellow flags, holding up the posters of the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
They're very popular right now because they see the Hezbollah action in the north as being in support of the Palestinian cause. They see Hezbollah standing up for the Palestinians where they see other Arab states failing them. And so, Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah extremely popular here even though they don't have many friends elsewhere in the international community -- Larry.
KING: Thank you, Matthew.
Now back to Beirut where we'll talk with Abraham Musawi. He's the chief editor of foreign news for Hezbollah's Minar TV. What is it, Mr. Musawi that Hezbollah wants?
IBRAHIM MOUSAWI, CHIEF FOREIGN NEWS EDITOR, AL MANAR TV: Very simple, ever since Hezbollah has taken the two Israeli captives Hassan Nasrallah, the general of Hezbollah, has put it very clearly. This is a limited operation in time and size.
We want the Lebanese, we want the Lebanese hostages and the Israeli prisoners back. We want to make exchange. We want to make a swap. We want indirect negotiations.
But it seems the only way the Israeli like to negotiate is through American F-16 war jets and bombarding and targeting the civilian areas. You have more than now 113 Lebanese killed and scores are wounded as well. This is the kind of situation that we are suffering from now.
KING: Are you saying that Hezbollah is doing -- committing no acts of violence?
MOUSAWI: Hezbollah is not committing an action of violence if you want to define it this way. Hezbollah is doing a resistance action defending itself, defending its people, trying to liberate the remaining of the Lebanese occupied territories, trying to secure and ensure the release of the Lebanese hostages.
KING: What do you think Israel wants?
MOUSAWI: Well, for the time being the Israelis say that they want to ensure the release of the two Israeli captives but it takes only a fool to believe that. I mean if you want your captives back, I believe you have to start diplomacy.
Everybody is saying now that after you make a war, after you make offensive, you want to sit down. You want to talk. You want to make diplomacy. Why don't you do it from the very beginning?
What they are doing this is systematic destruction for the infrastructure of Lebanon targeting the civilians everywhere and Lebanon is under the Israeli fire. I don't believe this is the way -- this is not going to do them any good. This is not the way to retrieve their captives as they say.
Everybody here believes there is a plan to change the rules of the game and, as the other correspondents said, they are trying to make a buffer zone. They want to change the whole situation along the border.
KING: Thank you, Mr. Mousawi. We'll be checking with you again, Ibrahim Mousawi, the chief editor of foreign news for Hezbollah's Manar, M-A-N-A-R, TV.
Back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE.
Let's go to Tel Aviv and Miri Eisin. She is the Israeli government spokesperson, retired colonel with the Israeli military intelligence. What's your reaction to what Mr. Mousawi of the Hezbollah just had to say?
MIRI EISIN, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON: I find it very interesting that the editor of Al-Manar TV talks only about things which have nothing to do with what's happening.
Almost seven days ago already Hezbollah crossed the border, an internationally recognized border, into Israeli territory, kidnapped two soldiers and at the same time, and this he failed to mention, opened fire with rockets on all of the northern villages of Israel.
And they have been for the last six days firing hundreds. We're already almost reaching the 1,000 mark of rockets on Israeli villages. Israeli citizens are under attack and Israel has said very clearly we're not willing to be hostages to Hezbollah, a terrorist organization in Lebanon anymore.
KING: They say if you release your prisoners, they'll release their prisoners and violence stops. So, what if it asked it simply why not do that just to stop killing?
EISIN: Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. They're trying to hold both the Lebanese government, the Lebanese people, and certainly all of northern Israel as hostages for their demands.
But what is Hezbollah it's calling for the destruction of Israel. Even today in all of this fighting the Israeli prime minister called for peace. What Israel wants is peace. We want peace on our northern border. We want peace with the Palestinians and we haven't heard any such words from Hezbollah.
In this war that the Hezbollah initiated against us at the beginning of last week what they've done is they have tried to change the rules completely. They think that they can have acts of terror against Israel and that Israel won't respond.
We've said clearly this year, this week we're not willing to sit here any longer and let Hezbollah do whatever they want. We've said clearly first of all return the captives. They crossed the border, kidnapped them, and took them into Lebanon.
And I'd say ask the Al Manar editor who exactly are these Lebanese hostages that he's talking about? We're talking about Lebanese terrorists who crossed into Israel, did acts of terror in the late '70s and '80s, were put on trial in Israeli prisons and have been sitting in Israeli prisons ever since.
KING: Thank you Miri.
Maybe we can set up to have both you and Mr. Mousawi on together. That might present a lot of enlightenment to the people around the world. We'll try to set that up with both of you so have you on together.
We'll meet our full panel in a moment but let's get you up to date with what we know. Seventh day of the Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon, Hezbollah rockets have hit northern Israel again. Condoleezza Rice is going to go to the region. Israelis say it's too soon. Ship, jets, choppers are in place for U.S. evacuations. The death toll is at least 174 killed in Lebanon, 24 killed in Israel.
Richard Haas joins us in New York, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, former director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department, was a principal advisor to Colin Powell. Would he be a good guy to call in on this?
RICHARD HAAS, FMR. STATE DEPT. DIR. OF POLICY PLANNING: It's not really a question, Larry, of calling in Colin Powell or Jim Baker or anybody else. It's really a question of what it is the United States advocates and I think it's got to be more than simply a ceasefire.
We've got to push Hezbollah back away from the border so it can't threaten people with rockets anymore. We've either got to insert the Lebanese government forces or some type of a capable international force and that will only happen, I believe, when Iran and Syria pass word to Hezbollah to agree to such a proposal. So, it really has less to do with the envoy and more to do with the larger situation.
KING: Do we have any leverage, we being the United States?
HAAS: Over Hezbollah, not a hell of a lot. We don't -- we don't talk to them. They're obviously a terrorist organization. I think the leverage may come in part from the Arab world, this kind of de- legitimization you're hearing.
When you hear the Saudis and others saying that Hezbollah is no friend of the Arab people for what they're doing that's an interesting development. And also the United States potentially has leverage on Syria and Iran. And Israeli has leverage on them. The threat to expand the war to a place like Syria I believe does introduce an interesting element into the equation.
KING: Richard Haas will be coming back with us throughout the hour.
So, too, will Christiane Amanpour. She's in Haifa. Do you see any bright spot at all, Christiane?
AMANPOUR: Well, it's interesting you ask about leverage. I mean one of the points of analysis over the last few days has been to question the U.S. administration's strategy of isolating so many of these countries in this region in terms, for instance, of Syria and others who it calls sponsors of terrorism.
The thing is when you isolate these natural interlocutors you don't really have anybody to talk to necessarily who could put that pressure on as they did in the past.
So, some people are beginning to question the wisdom of isolating these, you know, these governments, isolating the Palestinians, isolating basically the main sort of kind of people who they need to put pressure on right now and wondering just how they're going to, you know, get the leverage back.
Of course, the U.S. has pretty much made it clear and so has the prime minister of Britain that they don't actually see the need for a ceasefire anytime soon and they've pretty much made it clear that they would like to see Israel do as much damage to Hezbollah and Hamas as possible and then potentially see whether that leads to a political situation. Some people call that a bit of a risky gamble.
KING: Thank you, Christiane.
Nic Robertson, do you see any plus in Secretary Rice coming?
ROBERTSON: The only plus that there seems to be at the moment is the point that both sides are willing to talk about and entertaining essentially the same idea and that idea is the handing back of people that each other holds.
Israel talking about having people crossing, terrorists crossing over, giving them trial in prison, putting them in prison, Hezbollah saying that they have the two Israelis and that they're willing to talk about a swap, the government here talking in those same terms.
Nobody is talking about a route to move that idea forward or how it could be advanced. But the fact that both sides, even Iran has been talking about this as well that is a point of hope.
But what can Secretary Rice achieve by coming to Beirut at the moment when the U.N. is saying it's a long way to go, when the French prime minister is here saying he doesn't see a magic solution. There still seems to be a lot of work to be done on that avenue -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Nic.
And when we come back Madeline Albright, the former United States Secretary of State, will join us. Don't go away.
KING: Joining us now from Washington is Madeleine Albright, the former United States Secretary of State and the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations.
Madam Ambassador, watch for a moment as we show you a little incident that occurred kind of off mic today with President Bush and Tony Blair. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: She's going. I think Condi's going to go pretty soon.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Well that's all that matters. If you -- see it will take some time to get out of there. But at least it gives people--
BUSH: it's a process, I agree. I told her your offer, too.
BLAIR: Well it's only -- or if she's going, or if she needs the ground prepared as it were. Obviously if she goes out she's got to succeed as it were, whereas I can just go out and talk.
BUSH: See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The choice of language may have been poor. Was he right?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think he clearly has a point about getting Syria to help in all of this to have them stop it, a little salty language but it happens.
KING: All right, this just in out of Washington, a top Republican Senator delayed a resolution supporting Israel's campaign against Hezbollah and Hamas on Monday warning colleagues that the conflict's potential impact on the U.S. war in Iraq and the safety of Americans in Lebanon requires more debate. Senator John Warner, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said he wants all Senators to have a chance to study and debate it. What do you think?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that it's unclear to me what the process here is, is that they do want to debate what's going on but I do think that it's important for us to state what has to -- that Lebanon -- that Hezbollah has attacked Israel and Israel has a right to defend itself.
KING: So there is no question in your mind that the Senate should issue that bill of indictment in a sense of Hezbollah and support of Israel?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that, you know, this is obviously a complicated situation and in listening to your reporters I was kind of stunned by what the person from Hezbollah said.
He made it sound as if there had been nothing done wrong by Hezbollah and I think it's important for the people of the United States and obviously the people in the region to know the facts that Hezbollah attacked Israel.
KING: When you deal with diplomacy, Madam Secretary, everybody thinks they're right, right?
ALBRIGHT: Always, you know, but one of the other parts in diplomacy, Larry, is that it's very important to at least try to put yourself into the other persons' shoes but it does require you to have some grip on reality to know what is really going on.
KING: What do you make of Secretary Rice going to the region?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think it's a good idea. I think that it's something that I -- I said I hoped she would do. I think the timing has to be discussed very carefully. But, you know, in the end every secretary of state, whether he or she wants to, gets involved in the Middle East. It's really what the job is about.
And, in a very similar situation in 1996, Secretary Christopher went to the region and did a lot of shuttle diplomacy and ultimately was able to work out a ceasefire.
So, I do think it's important. I think also, Larry that she can go to other places in the region. Again, the comment has been made that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, other countries have in fact, had something to say which really is an indictment of Hezbollah.
And so, having the secretary of state in the region with other envoys there I think is something that would be helpful and is something that's going to take a long time.
KING: You mentioned ceasefire. Is that possible here?
ALBRIGHT: Well, at the moment it isn't and a ceasefire you have to be very careful about because it kind of indicates some kind of moral equivalence. But, I think we have to keep remembering that the Hezbollah attacked Israel.
On the other hand, I think there has to be some way that the resolutions that the United Nations passed, the most important one is 1559 that, in fact, made clear that Hezbollah had to move back, that the Lebanese government had to get some kind of control over the whole territory, is some part of what could be an integral part of a ceasefire arrangement.
KING: Senator Feinstein suggested yesterday that former Presidents Bush and Clinton be sent. What do you think of that idea?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think it's a good idea, you know. I think they've made a very good team. I also think -- well I know very well how much President Clinton knows about the issue. He worked it very, very hard. He knows the details. I think he has the respect of the parties.
I don't know whether it's something that this administration would think is appropriate but I do think that it is important for the United States to be involved. I know there are those who wouldn't agree with that but I happen to think that we do better when we are playing a diplomatic role in the region.
KING: Does being in Iraq though bog us down?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I do think that we're overstretched in Iraq and I have said that I'm afraid that Iraq has sent the wrong message throughout the region and frankly, Larry, that Iran is the one country that has really gained the most out of the war in Iraq and they are the ones that are flexing a lot of muscles here.
You know what's interesting they did manage, I think, what they wanted which was to divert attention from their case at the G8 in St. Petersburg. I think they had very much to do with the timing of this whole attack.
KING: Do you fear World War III?
ALBRIGHT: No. I mean I think that wiser minds will prevail here but I am concerned about that this is a crossroads and we have an opportunity here to build on the very serious fighting that's going on, to bring about some kind of an agreement that would solidify Israel's borders and be sure that Israel's security is protected. Or, if in fact this is not dealt with and it does have the danger of spreading into larger regional conflict and I think we all have to beware of that.
KING: Thank you. We'll be calling on you again, always good to see you.
ALBRIGHT: Great to see you, Larry, thank you.
KING: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Back with lots more, don't go away.
KING: We're back. Let's check in with Nic Robertson in Beirut. We just heard that Senator John Warner, Nic, chairman of Armed Services, has asked the Senate to hold up issuing an almost voice vote support of Israel until it can be debated fully. He thought that might affect things in Iraq. How do you think that will be received in Lebanon?
ROBERTSON: Well, some of the politicians here will probably say that is a good thing. I was speaking earlier with Walid Jumblat, who's the head of one of the sects here. He was a warlord of the Druze militia here. He's now a parliamentarian.
His analysis is that if you give Israel the support to follow a military policy of trying to disarm and destroy Hezbollah's military infrastructure, you are playing into the hands of Hezbollah. He said you're playing into the hands of Iran. You're playing into the hands of Syria. He says that these actions by Hezbollah have been -- the timing is prompted by Iran, to avoid the nuclear issue. It's prompted by Syria to avoid an examination, a U.N. examination of their role in the Rafik Hariri murder here in Lebanon just over a year ago. The analysis here is that a military solution is not the one that's going to provide a safe and secure Lebanon for Israel. They fear that it will destabilize the government. That's the big concern here, Larry.
KING: And Matthew Chance in Gaza City, what if any do you think will be Israel's reaction to the calling by Senator Warner to hold up a voice vote?
CHANCE: Well, I expect that that will be taken as a green light perhaps by many in the Israeli government, by the Israeli leadership, to continue their military campaign here in Gaza. Since Palestinian Hamas militants captured young private Corporal Shalit here last month, ordinary Palestinians have been placed under a great deal of pressure by the Israeli military. There have been air strikes against various buildings across the city. Electricity behind me is very sporadic, so is the water supply, because the power stations and the pumping stations have been hit.
So it's particularly hard for Palestinians to live here. But despite that, Larry, I haven't spoken to one Palestinian here in the Gaza Strip yet that doesn't think it's worth holding on to this Israeli soldier, because for them he's the best bargaining chip they've had with the Israelis for years. They're convinced they can swap this individual that they're holding somewhere here in the Gaza Strip -- he's presumed to be alive still, both by the Israelis and the Palestinians I've spoken to. They're hoping they can swap him for some of the thousands of Palestinians that are currently being held in Israeli jails.
And so, all this support that I mentioned earlier about showing for Hezbollah, a lot of those people are the parents of people that are currently being held in Israeli jails. They want them released in exchange for this Israeli soldier.
KING: Thank you very much, Matthew.
Anderson Cooper will be leaving us after this segment as he goes to prepare "AC 360" at the top of the hour. Are you going to cover this whole scene from Cyprus tonight? What's the angle this evening?
COOPER: Well, we're really doing it from all the angles. All our correspondents around the region. But we came to Cyprus. Today we spent the morning in Haifa, basically chasing down Hezbollah rockets. We're going to show you a very real-time look at what it is like, minute by minute, in Haifa today. Rocket after rocket landing. The air raid sirens go off. Our cameras were rolling the whole time. We'll have that at the top of the hour, Larry.
But also, we're in Cyprus because this is where the Americans are said to be coming. We anticipate a boat. I'm in the port right now in Cyprus in Larnaca. There's already an Italian destroyer here that has brought several hundred Italian citizens as well as others evacuated, several dozens, Americans have already been evacuated from Beirut, but we're anticipating a ferry chartered by the French government to land anytime here, about 900 people on board. We're told there may be as many as 50 Americans, Larry. We hope to be here as they come off, and we'll bring you their stories as we get them.
KING: Were you in a safe area in Haifa?
COOPER: Well, you know, nothing is safe. I mean, it's all sort of relative. We were staying in a hotel, and, you know, had access to bomb shelters like most of the residents there. But you know, the sirens go off, you run for cover, and you just wait for these rockets to land.
It's an eerie feeling, Larry. You get about a minute of warning or so when the sirens go off, and if you're out on the street, you just sort of hug a building and just wait. And you're literally -- things go quiet, and you hear the thud, the impacts. Hopefully, you hear them far away from where you are. And then everyone piles into their vans and gets to the scene to see what damage has been done. It's become a deadly routine. And that's one of the things we're going to be showing you at the top of the hour.
KING: That's Anderson Cooper. You'll see him hosting "AC 360" at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.
When we come back, our panel of Richard Haass, Christiane Amanpour and Nic Robertson, and we'll be joined by a representative of the Palestinian side of this viewpoint. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back. We thought it important to bring back Ibrahim Mousawi, the chief editor of foreign news for Hezbollah's Al Manar T.V. After you left us, Mr. Mousawi, Miri Eisin, the Israeli government spokesperson, a retired colonel, had listened to you, and she said that you act as if Hezbollah has done nothing wrong and it was you that took the prisoners. True or false?
MOUSAWI: Yes, absolutely. It's Hezbollah that took the prisoners. But they've been waiting for 28 years to be released. Hezbollah has put it in public. They said openly they will carry operations as a resistance movement, they'll take Israeli military soldiers in order to make a swap. This has been an open policy and an open goal for Hezbollah. The Lebanese government knows that, everybody knows that. It was said in the public many times.
And they took them -- when they took them, they said we don't want to destabilize the situation. We don't want to make an escalation. We want to make a swap, because nobody is listening, nobody is going to do anything to set them free. They have been there for so long and the Israelis didn't accept the swap.
KING: What did you expect Israel to do? Did you expect them to say OK?
MOUSAWI: It's not what do the Israelis expect us to do after they have put them in the jails for 28 years? What do they expect when the Israeli withdrawal has taken place in the year 2000 from the majority of the most of the Lebanese territories and they stayed in Shebaa Farms? They've been told you have to release the prisoners. They didn't do it. Even in the last swap that has taken place they were included, but at one point, at one stage they didn't want to do it, and they had this vote 12-11 and they kept them there. So I believe the blame should be put as well on the Israelis because they could have spared us all of this situation.
KING: But really, does violence gain anything, on either side. What is gained by hitting other -- hurting other people?
MOUSAWI: Larry, with all due respect, I really respect you and the questions you're asking. If you are in your house and someone came and level a gun to your head, you're going to respond by reacting. You want to resist. You want to defend yourself. If you have the gun, you're going to shoot back before he kills you.
I mean, yes, sometimes violence is a part of the cycle of the natural cycle of defending yourself. I mean, Hezbollah didn't try to hurt them. I mean, they spared everything and said we don't want any escalation, we don't want to target even the civilian targets. They waited for two days.
The Israelis were pounding all of the civilian establishments, the airport, the bridges. Is this going to do them any good? How is this going to bring them closer to free their captives, I believe? When the enemy -- they suggest we want a swap, we want negotiations. Why they negotiate with the F-16 against the civilian establishments? This is what the situation. You can ask your correspondents here, anyway.
KING: How would Hezbollah respond if Britain's Tony Blair and the United Nations' Kofi Annan come through with sending international forces to Lebanon?
MOUSAWI: Well, actually, I believe they have to address the problem and the causes of the problem. It's always going into the language of might. And might is right. This is not the situation. Come back to the United Nations. I mean, people have a lot of -- and mounting suspicions about the role even of the U.N. peacekeepers here.
The speaker of the house, parliament in Lebanon, has accused them of covering one of the massacres that took place. The same story, the same history is going back and back every now and then with the massacre in 1996, people were massacred under the flag of the United Nations, in the Fiji battalion.
Yesterday -- I mean, two days ago, another 23 were killed and massacred because the United Nation peacekeepers didn't want them to take them into their place. They advised them to leave into the street, and they were killed.
So I believe what will happen, I mean, their problem now is with the Israeli occupation, with the Israeli military. Things have to be brokered, have to be negotiated, and diplomacy will prevail if people want the logic and the language of reason to prevail.
KING: Is there anyone Hezbollah would accept as kind of an honest broker between the two parties?
MOUSAWI: Well, I can tell you very well some people have approached. If you want, I can reveal their names.
MOUSAWI: I mean, even the Lebanese -- even the Lebanese government could broker this. What's wrong with that? I mean, they have to accept the principle of negotiation first, indirect negotiation. When Hezbollah says I want indirect negotiations, it means evens going to go to direct negotiations with Israel. The Lebanese government can do it. Anyone that Hezbollah and the Israelis accept can do it.
KING: But you say someone has approached. Who?
MOUSAWI: I told you, I can't tell you. Off air maybe. I'm not -- I'm not given the authority to talk who approached. But I can tell you that Hezbollah accepted that the Lebanese government can negotiate on the issue.
KING: Thank you, Mr. Mousawi. We'll be calling on you again. Ibrahim Mousawi, the chief editor of foreign news for Hezbollah's Al Manar T.V.
Let's go now to Tel Aviv. I'm sorry. Let's go to Ramallah on the West Bank. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti is joining us, the Palestinian legislator and former candidate for the presidency of the Palestinian National Authority.
From the Palestinian perspective is this getting worse?
MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN LEGISLATOR: Yes, Larry. It's getting very much worse. And to be honest with you, we are absolutely tired as Palestinians of the Palestinian cause being used by every global, regional, and internal conflict. It's too much.
If you remember, about 24 years ago, Israel bombarded south Lebanon and Beirut and attacked Beirut. At that time the enemy was the PLO. And since then we had negotiations, we had a agreement that was never implemented really by Israel. At that time there was no Hamas. There was no Hezbollah. And if the conflict was resolved if the peace process produced a real resolution, we would not have seen these terrible developments that take place now.
Another war, another military act, another use of weapons will not solve the problem. The only way to get out of this is to apply a true negotiating process, to have a framework of application of international law. And application of international law means no double standard and evenhandedness.
I am not very impressed with the fact that so many American senators want to show only support to Israel. They should show support to the issue of peace, to the issue of democracy. They should also have no double standard. If the democracy does not allow, for instance, the arrest of and kidnapping of 27 Palestinian legislators. By the way, at this moment the Israeli army is in Ramallah trying to arrest more legislators who were freely and democratically elected.
The way out of this is to allow for ending occupation, allow peace to take place, and stop using the Palestinian issue as an issue for every regional and global conflict.
KING: Do you think Secretary Rice will help a lot?
BARGHOUTI: Well, I hope if she applies, again, evenhandedness in resolving this conflict. If they remember that for the last six years we had so many missions, we had Mitchell, we had the Mitchell mission, we had the Zinni mission. Nothing was implemented. We had the road map. None of that was implemented.
Why? Because Israel simply feels that it can do what it wants. Because there is no international pressure to push for a true peace process. The way out of this in my opinion is to call for an international peace conference like we did in Madrid. Have all the parties there, put all the issues on the table, have negotiations based on international law, and resolve this conflict, allow these countries, allow Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria to have prosperity.
It's enough. Too many wars have happened in this region and too much suffering. So far 111 Palestinians have been killed during just the last two weeks, 240 have been injured. Gaza is suffering from a terrible humanitarian crisis, something that is undescribable. It's like a whole country taken hostage.
KING: Thank you, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, the Palestinian legislator. And when we come back, our panel will rejoin us. Richard Haass, Christiane Amanpour, and Nic Robertson. Don't go away.
KING: Before we check back with Richard Haass, let's check in on the phone with Beirut to Nada Ghattas. Nada is a 26-year-old restaurant manager from Los Angeles trapped in Beirut and hoping to evacuate. What's your situation right now, Nada?
NADA GHATTAS, TRAPPED U.S. CITIZEN: Well, right now I'm staying with my family in an area east of Beirut. So we're a little farther away from, you know, where everything's happening. We're in a little mountainous area called Beit Mari. And right now everything over here is pretty calm. We can still hear all the explosions and so forth pretty clearly every night. And generally, you know, the poor Shiite Muslims who are being bombed in the south of Beirut are coming up here for, you know, as a safe haven. So most people are coming up here. It's generally a safer area. So we haven't, you know, really felt too much of the impact up here.
KING: What are you doing to get out? GHATTAS: Well, right now the, we thought about, earlier on we had thought about taking the road to Syria, and we heard many kind of horror stories about that situation. So we decided against that. We're waiting for the U.S. embassy now to evacuate. That's all we can do. Everything else is pretty much bombed and closed. So for our safety that's the best option right now, is just to wait for the embassy.
KING: Who are you blaming for all this?
GHATTAS: Oh, that's a tough question. There's really no one to blame, I mean, and everyone to blame all at the same time. It's a region that you're never going to, I feel, unfortunately, that really stability is never going to happen. It's just been like this since the beginning. My parents were here for the civil war, left their houses, same thing. They moved back here two years ago and just, you know, hoped because of the stability, you know, that they had been seeing, they thought, oh, maybe it will be better. And now, you know, you have, Israel has a point. Hezbollah, you know, is fighting their fight. And who's wrong and who's right? It's kind of a tough call there.
KING: Safe to say you will not go back if you get out?
GHATTAS: Well, it depends. My parents are kind of challenging me a little bit. They don't want to leave. A lot of people don't want to leave their homes. They just are like we'll stay here, it's safe here, we're fine here, and they're just willing to stay. And you know, for the most part I'm probably going to pick a better place to vacation from here on out, but you know, I'm going to have to see my family sometime. So we'll see what happens.
KING: Good luck, Nada. We'll be checking in with you.
GHATTAS: Thank you very much.
KING: Nada Ghattas. When we come back, Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Don't go away.
KING: Richard Haass, chairman of the Council on, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, what do you make of what you heard tonight? Hearing from Hezbollah and the Israelis and the Palestinians.
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, a couple of things, Larry. One is the statements by the Hezbollah spokesman were, quite honestly, preposterous. Israel left Lebanon six years ago. And the fact that they've, that Hezbollah's reacted the way it has now sends a terrible message to Israelis. First the Israelis leave Lebanon then they leave Gaza, and in both cases acts of aggression have been committed against them.
It will make it much more difficult for Prime Minister Olmert or any Israeli leader down the road to convince the Israeli people that vacating territory that is currently occupied will lead to peace. So I think we've got to be honest here. We're going to pay a big price for what's happened over the last few days. That said, not all is lost. I think you're beginning to see the elements of some diplomacy.
It'll have to involve Hezbollah being pushed back from the border. The insertion of some sort of an international force or Lebanese force. Ultimately some prisoner swap. I think the United States will have to be a part of that. There's still no one other than the United States that has that kind of standing. But coming back to something you raised before, American leverage and American influence is much reduced.
We're militarily tied down in Iraq, which makes the Iranians much more aggressive. Our energy situation is such that we're very vulnerable to what happens in the region. We've made ourselves very dependent. And the fact that we don't have communication with important players such as Iran, again limits American influence. So one of the things that needs to come out of this, quite honestly, is a rethinking of American diplomacy toward the region.
KING: Nic Robertson, we're only going to have a few seconds with you before you leave us, but you will be with us again of course tomorrow. And we'll be calling on Richard Haass a lot again as well as we cover this throughout. Nic, where does Condoleezza Rice go first?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think she probably has to tour around the region. The United States has allies in this region. King Abdullah in Jordan. She would very likely want to go to Cairo as well. Anyone that can bring influence to bear around this region on the situation inside Lebanon. She would very likely want to go to Jerusalem as well. What can she actually achieve?
If she were to come to Lebanon right now? It does make sense to visit the other capitals around here before she actually arrives here. Obviously, seeing the United States send a very senior diplomat like Secretary Rice would send a very significant message to all players in this region, that the United States is serious and watching very closely. And that's what a lot of people want here, Larry.
KING: Thanks, Nic. We'll check with you again tomorrow night. And Richard, we have about 30 seconds. What is Condoleezza Rice, do you think she can accomplish?
HAASS: Well, she can send the message that America is involved, that we have important interests here, that we stand by Israel, that Israel, if you will, has been the wronged party, that there is a fair and reasonable settlement here, one that more than anything else brings about Lebanon's true independence. We need to begin to implement a resolution where Lebanon is a state in fact and not just in name. And that's the process she can begin.
KING: And quickly what do you think of Senator Warner calling for a halt to that voice vote and full debate on support of Israel?
HAASSS: At the risk of alienating my good friend in the Senate, I don't think that's going to be the lead story in the Middle East tomorrow. Quite honestly, congressional resolutions are not, one way or another are not going to move the situation on the ground.
KING: Are you surprised he said it?
HAASSS: No. I think what it basically does is create some space for what's happening. I think Congress is often reluctant to stake out positions which have potential consequences which can come back and bite us. In a sense what Senator Warner is doing is playing it safe. And that's probably a smart thing to do under the circumstances.
KING: How much fear do you have to escalation here?
HAASSS: Well, there's a certain logic to the Israeli position Larry, that if the Israelis can't get what they want in Lebanon, if they can't essentially get Hezbollah to back off, then at some point as former Secretary of State Al Hague used to say, the Israeli temptation will be to go to the source. And that means to put pressure on Syria and to put pressure on Iran.
That obviously has all sorts of risks and all sorts of consequences, but if they can't get the international community, one way or another, to help the Lebanese government reassert its sovereignty and authority, there will be political pressure within Israel on Prime Minister Olmert to do something so people in Haifa, Israel's third largest city, can go about their lives free of fear.
KING: Thanks Richard, we'll be calling on you again. Richard Haasss, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. That's it for this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Let's head to Cyprus, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?
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