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Crisis in the Middle East

Aired July 18, 2006 - 21:00   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's this provocation of Hezbollah that has created this crisis and that's the root cause of the problem.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, as deadly strikes continue between Israel and Lebanon, President Bush blames Hezbollah for the raging weeklong conflict and says he's suspicious that Syria could take advantage and try to get back into Lebanon.

We're going to get reaction from Hezbollah, the Syrians, and the Israelis.

Plus, we'll talk with Americans caught in the crossfire, trying to escape Beirut, all the latest on the crisis, the whole world's watching with reporters too all over the region next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Good evening, no end in sight to the conflict, another evening of LARRY KING LIVE. We're going to check in with Nic Robertson.

But first, earlier today Nic got a unique, indeed exclusive access to areas of southern Lebanon with members of the Hezbollah press office. Let's take a look at what he saw.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're really worried about another strike here right now, yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, of course.

ROBERTSON: How dangerous is it in this area at the moment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is very, very dangerous. We are now the most dangerous place and the most dangerous moment.

ROBERTSON: In civilian housing. Are you going to have -- go for this ceasefire? Are you going to hand back the soldiers that they asked for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We always teach Israel a lesson. We always teach it a lesson. Now, we will teach Israel a lesson again. I tell Ehud Olmert we will not surrender. We will not surrender. We will not surrender.

ROBERTSON: Even though your civilians are coming under fire?


KING: Nic, does the anger appear equal on both sides?

ROBERTSON: It certainly does. There is a lot of anger in those southern suburbs of Beirut. Larry, just while we're talking right now I can hear aircraft in the sky overhead. Just as your show was coming on air there was a very big explosion, about two minutes before that there were another two very, very loud rumbling explosions.

We're not sure exactly where they are possibly southern Beirut again in that same area where we were earlier, a very big rumbling explosion several hours ago, some even bigger thunderous explosions perhaps a little closer to where we are.

But the anger is there. When those neighborhoods in southern Beirut are struck the people there are very anger at Israel for doing it and it drives them and this is an area that is typically supportive of Hezbollah. It drives them towards Hezbollah and makes them more likely to believe their politicians are more willing to follow them in whatever they say -- Larry.

KING: Christiane Amanpour, CNN's Chief International Correspondent, is in northern Israel. And earlier today she spent time with Israeli soldiers on Israel's northern border. Let's take a close look at what she saw and heard.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brigadier General Gal Hirsch is the northern front battle commander. This is about never again letting Hezbollah build up missiles and military that can attack up north, as far south as Haifa and maybe even beyond.

Every shell that is fired, every barrage of their multiple launch rocket systems is aimed at pushing Hezbollah back to never again let them occupy positions right here on the border with southern Lebanon. It is about creating a buffer zone. Indeed, for Commander Hirsch and his men this is do or die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot fail. We don't have any other choice. We cannot live under this umbrella of terror missiles and we will attack and attack and fight for our lives.


KING: Christiane, does the Israeli army ever get weary of all of this?

AMANPOUR: Well, yes, but they're determined. But you see how it mirrors, how both sides are mirroring the other? You heard from Nic's package the Hezbollah press man saying "We shall never surrender." From this side you hear the military commander saying "We will attack and we will attack. We cannot fail."

Both sides are using that language and yet both sides know that this is not going to be ended by a military solution. We've talked to Israeli commanders and political leaders here who say that this eventually is going to have to be a political solution that resolves this crisis.

And yesterday you talked to the Hezbollah spokesperson, effectively the editor of the Al Manar Television who said that "We were looking for indirect negotiations." They know that.

KING: And, by the way, he will be with us right after this segment.

Let's go to Anderson Cooper now in Larnaca, Cyprus. This will be Anderson's report in this hour, so we want to in a moment check on what he's going to be emphasizing on AC 360 at the top of the hour. But what can you tell us now about the evacuations, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the U.S. government says the evacuations of Americans out of Beirut is about to ramp up big time. So far, Larry, the U.S. government says about 350 Americans have been airlifted and have gotten out of Beirut through U.S. government intervention but that is a very small number compared to the 25,000 now believed to be in Lebanon. The State Department is estimating as many as 10,000 actually want to get out.

And, Larry, I don't know if you can see it behind me but this enormous cruise ship has just -- it's a ferry boat, a Norwegian vessel, has just pulled into port her in Larnaca. We're told there are about 800 Swedes onboard that and may be as many as 200 Americans, at least more than 100 Americans are onboard that vessel right now.

It is just turning around here in the port in Larnaca and is about to dock. I'm going to try to talk to some of those Americans over the course of the next several hours as they get off that ship.

Larry, I've already talked to a couple Americans tonight who are checking in, trying to get hotel rooms in Larnaca, trying to get flights out. They are tired. They are weary. And many of them are angry at the U.S. for what they say is a slow response.

They say "Why are the French, why has the German government gotten hundreds of their citizens out where the U.S. has only gotten out several helicopter flights worth of civilians, now a couple on ships as well" -- Larry.

KING: And, Anderson, will that be the emphasis of Anderson Cooper 360 tonight?

COOPER: We'll be taking a look at that, yes, a lot on the American angle on evacuees, Democrats now saying it's like Katrina all over again how this White House has planned this evacuation, politics already getting involved in this. We're also going to, of course, have live reports from all around the region -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, Anderson Cooper, the anchor of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.

We'll go to break. When we come back we'll have a return visit with Ibrahim Mousawi, the chief editor of foreign news for Hezbollah's Manar TV.

And we'll meet the Syrian ambassador to the United States. Don't go away.


KING: We now have a return visit with Ambassador Imad Moustafa, the Syrian Ambassador to the United States. He joins us from Washington. At the start of a cabinet meeting earlier today, President Bush said that Syria is trying to get back into Lebanon. Let's listen to what he said.


BUSH: Syria's trying to get back into Lebanon it looks like to me. We passed the United Nations Resolution 1559 and finally this young democracy, or this democracy became whole by getting Syria out and there are suspicions that the instability created by the Hezbollah attacks will cause some in Lebanon to invite Syria back in and that would be -- that's against the United Nations policy and it's against the U.S. policy.


KING: Mr. Ambassador, what's your reaction?

IMAD MOUSTAPHA, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: There is something profoundly flawed in this argument. The moment these hostilities started, Syria immediately called the international community to work towards a ceasefire. The world has heard President Bush criticizing the secretary general of the United Nations because he was working towards a ceasefire.

If President Bush is worried that Syria might benefit from this conflict to go back into Lebanon as he has just said, then why -- why is he doing everything possible to prevent an immediate ceasefire?

Please do remember that Syria is very worried about the ongoing massacre in Lebanon, the killing of civilians, and the destruction of the infrastructure of Lebanon.

KING: So, Mr. Ambassador, are you saying unequivocally you do not have a desire to go back into Lebanon?

MOUSTAPHA: I think this is a very opportune moment to say the following. No, Syria is not going to back to Lebanon so President Bush can be assured of this and he can pay some attention to the plight of the Lebanese people and their ongoing suffering because the Lebanese people, as you have said at the early stages of this program, are very, very angry.

KING: All right. Israeli Army General Gadi Isinkott (ph) said that Hezbollah is smuggling weapons from Syria but Israel doesn't consider Syria a target. Does Syria accept Israel's word on this matter? Does Syria consider Israel a target?

MOUSTAPHA: No, no, we -- first, we do not respect Israel's word at all. Second, there is no traffic of anything from Syria to Lebanon except humanitarian aid. Israel knows of this very well. These are blatant lies. Third, I don't think is the time neither for Israel to consider Syria a target nor for Syria to consider Israel a target.

We are calling the international community to help us deescalate this tension in the middle of this conflict and the tension in the Middle East, not to further inflame the Middle East.

Enough is enough. The Lebanese are suffering and this is time for the United States to use its (INADUDIBLE) influence on Israel so that Israel will stop its barbaric attack on Lebanon.

KING: Thank you Ambassador Imad Moustapha, the Syrian Ambassador to the United States.

MOUSTAPHA: Thank you.

KING: Let's go to Stanford, Connecticut (sic) with George Shultz, served as secretary of state during the Reagan administration. It's good to see you again George. You're looking well.

GEORGE SHULTZ, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: You had the C right but it's California, not Connecticut, Larry.

KING: Oh! It's the university.

SHULTZ: You got it.

KING: OK, easy to make that mistake and that's what they wrote on the card.

SHULTZ: All you Easterners, all you Easterners are the same. You're so focused.

KING: I'm a Californian now. Have you been in contact with President Bush since this started?


KING: What do you make of what we just heard this ongoing conflict? You were involved in it in the Reagan years.

SHULTZ: I think that the way out of this conflict is clear and all you have to do is go back to the U.N. resolution that was referred to 1559 that was passed a year and a half or so ago and there are basically two elements to that resolution. One was to get Syrian troops out of Lebanon and they did leave. The second was to disarm Hezbollah. That has not been done and that is the essence of the problem here.

So, it seems to me what we should be focusing on is Lebanon and how to get Lebanon to be a country free of foreign occupation or presence, able to be a sovereign country on its own, and in order to do that you have to disarm Hezbollah, as the U.N. resolution said.

So, I think what should be focused on is how to disarm Hezbollah and return Lebanon or get Lebanon to have a sovereign presence without Iranian presence in Lebanon, without Syrian presence, with Israeli presence.

KING: In the history of this conflict and no one knows it better than you, how bad is this situation?

SHULTZ: It's a very bad situation obviously. You have shown pictures of people getting killed and wounded in fairly large numbers on both sides and lots of destruction of physical infrastructure. There's always a danger that something can escalate, so it's a dangerous situation.

But I think it needs to have a strong intervention. As I said, I think the focus should be on how to cause Lebanon to be a sovereign nation in charge of its own destiny.

KING: Do you like the idea of sending Secretary Rice?

SHULTZ: Well it's a good idea. I think the question is what is to be accomplished? What's going to be the focus? And, you just don't go somewhere. You have to know what it is you're trying to accomplish.

And it seems to me what needs to be accomplished is the disarming of Hezbollah so that Lebanon can be a sovereign country. Get the Iranians out as the Syrians. And then there won't be any reason for Israel to be doing what it's doing.

KING: Kofi Annan and Prime Minister Blair are both advocating the deployment of an international stabilization force in Lebanon. What do you think of that?

SHULTZ: Well, the international -- we've had an international presence in Lebanon many years, you remember UNIFIL, and it didn't really work very well. But I think there is an argument for something a little different.

Maybe if you had a ceasefire you'd want to have a purpose to it that should make it unnecessary to go through this all over again. So, maybe you could have a U.N. force that had the mission of getting rid of all the armaments, the Hezbollah armaments.

Obviously the Lebanese government is not capable of doing that itself but maybe if you said "OK there's going to be a ceasefire and we're going to have a lot of competent people come in under the U.N. umbrella to enforce the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 and see that these armaments are disposed of and gotten rid of," then you'd have achieved something.

KING: Does the Iraq War limit America's options?

SHULTZ: No, I don't see that it limits our options at all. It's not taxing our capabilities at all.

KING: Do you think Iran has a role in this?

SHULTZ: Absolutely. Iran is the source of the arms that Hezbollah is using. Iran has trained them. It's had trainers for years in the Bekaa Valley and I understand it has trainers even today in Lebanon with Hezbollah helping them learn -- be sure they know how to use all of this relatively advanced weaponry.

KING: Do you fear a regional war here?

SHULTZ: It's certainly possible but I think it can be contained and the way to contain it, I hate to keep coming back to it but it's worth emphasizing, is to focus on Lebanon. How do you get it arranged so that Lebanon can be a sovereign country without being pulled into wars, years ago by the PLO, and now by Hezbollah?

After all, Hezbollah conducted a deliberate act of war, so they -- and they are part of the Lebanese government, so they dragged Lebanon into a war. That's what happens when you leave a group like that armed.

And, the U.N. resolution understood -- people understood that when they passed that resolution. That's why they called for the disarmament of Hezbollah. So, let's go back to that and enforce the U.N. resolution.

KING: Thanks, George, good seeing you. We'll be calling on you again.

SHULTZ: OK, remember it's California.

KING: Yes, Stanford, California, Palo Alto.

SHULTZ: You got it, OK.

KING: The former Secretary of State George Shultz.

We'll be right back.


KING: We're back.

Let's check late developments. This is the eighth day of military conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. It's underway with new Israeli airstrikes on Beirut.

Hezbollah vows to fight to the death and continues to hit northern Israel.

President Bush today says Hezbollah's actions are the root cause of the problem.

And Bush is concerned that Syria is trying to get back into Lebanon. By the way, the Syrian ambassador denies that.

And, the United States steps up the pace of evacuations amid criticism and expects to evacuate more than 2,400 Americans from Lebanon by Thursday.

And the latest death toll at least 183 have been killed in Lebanon, 456 wounded, 23 killed in Israel and more than 300 wounded.

Let's go to Matthew Chance, our CNN Senior International Correspondent in Gaza City. Israeli tanks are moving into the Mugaza (ph) refugee camp in central Gaza. What's the latest, Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, it seems that much of the attention is, of course, focused on Lebanon. The Israelis, at least, haven't forgotten about this their other front in the Gaza Strip.

As you mentioned, within the last few hours Israeli tanks have moved into the central area of the Gaza Strip around that refugee camp, conducting operations. There are reports of fierce clashes underway between those Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the area.

We don't know the exact tactical reasons for this latest Israeli incursion but certainly over the past several weeks Israel has been undertaking large scale operations in the Gaza Strip since the capture of one of its soldiers on the Israeli-Gaza border on the 25th of June, really the incident that sparked this latest Mid East crisis.

Since then Israel is saying it's been stepping up the pressure on Palestinian militants to release that Israeli corporal from custody here. They believe he's still alive. They believe they can get him released by imposing this kind of military pressure.

They've got a secondary reason as well, Larry, and that's to try and stop the Palestinian militants here in Gaza from firing those makeshift rockets into southern Israel. They've been a real thorn in the side for the Israelis in southern Israel for the past several months and, indeed, the past several years.

So far the operation hasn't achieved either of those objectives. The missiles are still being fired. Corporal Shalit is still being held by Palestinian militants. But the situation for ordinary Palestinians here on the ground in Gaza is very, very dire indeed, very serious situation -- Larry.

KING: Thank you very much, Matthew.

Let's go to Damascus, Syria. Hala Gorani is our CNN International Correspondent. President Bush said today, Hala that Syria is trying to get back into Lebanon. The Syrian ambassador on this program just a couple of minutes ago denied that completely. How is that accusation resonating there?

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's been no official reaction so far, Larry, and in Syria official reaction is normally slow in coming. The way this might have a ripple effect in this country that is the last few days I've gotten the sense on the streets of Damascus that ordinary Syrians have started feeling that the conflict in neighboring Lebanon will not spill over on this side of the border because many have said if Israel had intended to attack Syria, it would have done so already and it is already militarily stretched on two fronts.

However, this might change things. The president's comments might change things because he went out of his way publicly to single out Syria and what he says is its attempt to get back into Lebanon.

Another impact that this is having that the accusations that Syria is not only supporting Hezbollah but also trying to get back into Lebanese politics is on the streets of Damascus we're really seeing a lot of support for Hezbollah, the kind of support I haven't seen in the years that I've been coming to this country -- Larry.

KING: And to Nic Robertson in Beirut what's the reaction to that information in Beirut?

ROBERTSON: Well there's certainly a feeling among many people here who oppose what Hezbollah is doing, although perhaps might not want to come out publicly and criticize it, that ultimately if this doesn't -- if this isn't contained, if a ceasefire isn't found that it will spill over, their analysis is that what Israel is trying to do is dismantle the military capability of Hezbollah.

If they're unable to do that through airstrikes, if Hezbollah is too integrated into suburban communities in Beirut to target them, if they're unable by shelling them in the south of Lebanon to stop them firing missiles into the north of Israel, Israel's only alternatives then would be politics diplomacy to bring in the international community, to get them in that buffer zone, to force a solution an international solution on the situation or to go to what many see as the root cause which is Syria and start targeting Syria to have them put pressure on Hezbollah.

The fear is if that happens, Iran gets involved too that Iran is part of the push behind Hezbollah to decide to go ahead and capture these two soldiers at this specific time because it took attention away from the Iranian nuclear issue. It took attention away from the Syrian issue of the investigation into the murder of Rafic Hariri, the former president here.

So, all of these thing complex but the Syrian issue, one that people very aware of, Larry that can get bigger and they're not ruling it out. They still hope that there will be a solution around the corner but they're not ruling it out -- Larry.

KING: Nic, quickly, we have an e-mail question. By the way, you can e-mail us if you want with questions on this because we're covering it extensively. This is from Ken of Bloomington, Indiana who asks: "Was there ever any effort by the Lebanese government to disarm Hezbollah from the time that Israel agreed to de-occupy southern Lebanon?"

ROBERTSON: You know I talked to one former presidential candidate here, a Christian businessman. I said, "Who do you blame for what's happened right now?" And I thought he might tell me Hezbollah.

He said, "No, I blame the government. I blame their lack of cohesion. I blame their lack of -- their lack of resolve to unite and put pressure on Hezbollah to disarm." And it appears that those mistakes, as he saw them, have come home to roost right now -- Larry.

KING: Thank you. Nic Robertson, our CNN Senior International Correspondent in Beirut.

Back with lots more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Ibrahim Mousawi. He joins us from Beirut, the chief editor of foreign news for Hezbollah's Manar TV.

Ibrahim, we want you to watch this. At the start of a cabinet meeting earlier today, President Bush pointed the finger of blame at Hezbollah. Watch this comment and then we'll ask your thoughts.


BUSH: This crisis started when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. They were unprovoked. Hezbollah were unprovoked. And they then took hostages. Imagine how the United States would react if somebody provoked us with that kind of action. And secondly, start firing rockets. And it's this provocation of Hezbollah that has created this crisis. And that's the root cause of the problem.


KING: All right, Ibrahim. How do you respond to that?

MOUSAWI: Well, first of all, this is not right. They didn't start firing rockets. What really happened is that they take two captives. Yes, this is for sure. And they wanted indirect negotiations and the swap.

And then the Israelis responded with sending the American F-16 jets to bombard the southern suburb of Beirut and different parts of Lebanon, destroying the bridges, the port, and the sea ports and all of the things of the sort.

And what Hezbollah said, they needed a kind of swap, they needed a kind of indirect negotiations. They said this is a limited operation in time and space. We don't want any escalation. This was the response from Israel.

You're talking about provocation? What about those hostages that they have been in the Israeli prisons for more than 28 years? Isn't this a provocation? The violation of the sovereignty of Lebanon in soil and ground, on air and the sea, isn't this a provocation?

KING: So you knew, you knew by these actions, taking the two prisoners, that you would provoke this.

MOUSAWI: They knew by keeping our hostages in their prisons that we have pledged and we have said we're going to do everything possible to set them free. This has been told to the international community, to the Security Council, to the United Nations, even the child in Lebanon knows this. It has been a pledge that we want to take them back.

And the Israelis didn't allow this in any way.

The other thing, when you talk about President Bush. President Bush has said yesterday that we will let the Israelis collect the garbage and get rid of the garbage. This is what it means for them. The Lebanese people are garbage for President Bush and for those who are in the White House.

KING: I don't think he used that term. But it isn't just President Bush ...

MOUSAWI: He did use it. It's there. It's recorded. It's there. Larry, it's there. It's recorded. It was slip of the tongue. He thought the microphones were not on, and he used that. 225 people that were killed, they are garbage to President Bush.

KING: He called...

MOUSAWI: This is the civilization (inaudible)...

KING: I'll check that. I have never heard that.

MOUSAWI: This is the way he approaches -- this is the way he approaches this, with inconsistency and the double standards.

KING: It isn't just President Bush, though, who's faulting Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan have chastised Hezbollah for what they described as unexpected, inappropriate, and irresponsible acts. How do you respond to that?

MOUSAWI: I'm clapping my hands. Lucky you. You're talking about despot -- you're talking about imposed governments. You're talking about governments that you always preach democracy, but when it comes to the kingdoms, to the sheikhdoms and all of those imposed regimes, you like them because they support the American point of view. This is one thing.

And what about the millions of people, the hundreds of millions that support the cause of liberation and the resistance in this part of the world? I believe you better find other than despots to support your argument in this regard.

KING: And one other quick thing. We have an e-mail from -- for you from Charlotte of Orlando, Florida. "I listened to your interview with the Hezbollah representative, and they say that Israel has to sit down with them to end the war. Why should Israel sit down with terrorist groups funded by Iran, who have publicly announced that their mission is to destroy Israel?"

MOUSAWI: It is not an honor whatsoever for us to sit with the Israelis. That's why we asked for indirect negotiations. This is one thing. And they have done it before. I mean, many operations to take Israeli captives have been done before. Many negotiations have underwent, and it produced the release of many of our hostages. It's going to happen again, we promise.

KING: That was Ibrahim Mousawi, the chief editor of foreign news for Hezbollah's Manar TV.

Let's go now to Tel Aviv and Miri Eisin. She is the Israeli government spokesperson. And she's -- I'm sorry. She's in Haifa. Retired colonel of Israeli military intelligence.

First, what do you make of what Ismail (sic) just said?

MIRI EISIN, ISRAELI GOVT. SPOKESPERSON: Well, if you listen carefully, Larry, he just threatened to take more captured soldiers. And that's what Hezbollah is, a terrorist organization.

I'm standing here in Haifa. The city is behind me. A city that was hit today again four times. And if you look at what is behind me right now, in the city of Haifa, there is a place there where a Syrian missile, fired by Hezbollah, hit into the third largest city. And I just stand here right now, listen to Hezbollah saying that they're going to take more, and I think why do they think that we're going to succumb to what they threaten to do?

KING: How about his statement that you've had all their people, all their prisoners for so many years?

EISIN: I already mentioned yesterday, we do not have any Lebanese prisoners inside Israel. We have terrorists, who are Palestinian terrorists, by the way, who came into Israel from Lebanon in the late '70s and early '80s. There's one terrorist who entered into Nahariya, a little further north from where we are right now, killed four members of a family in the 1979 massacre, and has been in an Israeli jail ever since.

These are the prisoners that we're talking about. They're not Lebanese. They're Palestinian. Hezbollah is taking terror -- is taking people hostage, taking servicemen hostage, as terrorist organizations do. Israel will not negotiate with terrorist organizations at all.

KING: How do you react, Miri, and there are some who say that all right, two prisoners were taken, you overreacted? EISIN: You know, I'm standing here now, Larry. I've been up in the north for almost the last week. I go into the different bomb shelters. Yesterday, I was sitting with a little girl, 6 years old, going into first grade, who was talking about the fact that she had been in summer camp and there she was in a bomb shelter. There are almost a million Israelis in bomb shelters as we speak right now.

I'm standing here in Haifa, the third largest city in Israel. Hezbollah did not only come across the border and take our two servicemen captive. They also opened fire all along the Israeli front, firing on villages, on towns. They are targeting the civilian population here and hiding behind the civilian population in Lebanon.

KING: You're a former officer in -- you're a retired colonel. Do you have fear that Israel may be in a two-front war here? You have the fierce clashes in Gaza tonight, troops moving into central Gaza. Is there a danger you can overwrought yourselves?

EISIN: There's no question that Israel right now is in two fronts. And both of these fronts are against terrorist organizations. Think of the irony of it. Israel wanted peace, Israel withdrew from Lebanon; Israel gets rockets. Israel wants peace, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip; Israel gets Kassam rockets. And I'm sure you're aware that today we had Kassam rockets not only on the Negev, but into the city of Ashkelon, which is one of Israel's 15 largest cities.

So here we are under rockets from terrorist organizations, both from the Gaza Strip and up north. A difficult situation for us.

KING: And finally, you favor a cease-fire?

EISIN: I think that it's premature to talk about that. Israel isn't talking about a cease-fire, but rather about what we demand. We need the return of our two servicemen unconditional. And I agree a lot with what Secretary Shultz was talking about before. Israel strongly is for the implementation of Resolution 1559. We think that that's the way to really be able to change what happens up on our northern border.

KING: Thank you, Miri. We'll be calling on you again. Miri Eisin, the Israeli government spokesperson, retired colonel in Israeli military intelligence.

We'll be back with more right after these words.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thelma's sister is trapped in Lebanon. Sandra and her two boys were visiting her husband's family when the bombs started falling. Thelma finally got her sister on the phone today.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If that's where the evacuations are going to be happening, how exactly are you going to get to Beirut? SANDRA CHOKR, TRAPPED IN LEBANON: I don't know how we're going to get there. I know that the roads are all being bombed. You know, and we just all kind of wondered how the heck we're going to get out of here.

LAWRENCE: They're in a small village in Bekaa Valley, a two-hour drive from Beirut.

GUTIERREZ: All right, Sandra. Well, love you.

CHOKR: Love you too, Thelma. Talk to you later. OK?




KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE here in Los Angeles Thelma Gutierrez, CNN correspondent. Her sister is currently trapped in Lebanon. On the phone with us is her sister, Sandra Chokr. Her younger sister is a high school teacher in Seattle. Why did you go to Lebanon, Sandra?

CHOKR: Well, I have two children, and they wanted to see their grandparents. And their grandparents wanted to see them and that's why we're here.

KING: And Thelma did you favor her going?

GUTIERREZ: Well, you know, Larry, I understand from the family's perspective that she wants to connect with her husband's family and everything, but in light of what's going on there I always kind of hope she'll go to Maui or a place like that. Just kidding, Sandra. I understand why you're there. And we support her.

KING: All right, Sandra. What's the situation now? From where you are.

CHOKR: Well, thankfully, it was quiet last night. And you know, we just all kind of don't know what to wait for, what to expect. You know, all of the villagers are coming to our house, asking us, you know, what we're going to do and how we're going to get out. I don't have any answers for them. So that's why I'm kind of asking you, what do you know?

KING: I'll ask your sister. Thelma, CNN, a little clout. Can you help get them out?

CHOKR: Larry, if I could, I'd be there in a heartbeat. I think what's been frustrating for us and so many other family members is that we really don't have a lot of information. In the case of my sister, she's in the Bekaa Valley. She's near the Syrian border. So it's not as though she's in a pocket or a large area like Beirut where she can easily evacuate. She's quite far away. So she's been told to stay put. The roads from Beirut to her town have been bombed. And from her town to Syria have also been bombed. And so there's not an easy way out.

KING: Let's see the thoughts as we go to Washington. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan and Congressman John Dingell the veteran Representative from the state of Michigan. Senator Stabenow, do you offer any hope to Sandra?

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Well, yes. In fact, just a few minutes ago we finally got the State Department to say, first of all, they're not going to charge people to evacuate them, which was just a horrendous policy that they were talking about doing. People who are trapped. Thank goodness people are not trapped and can leave Israel.

But in Lebanon we have 25,000 people from America. Over 5,000 family members from Michigan who are literally trapped. I have been spending time on the phone and my staff has with hundreds of people, trying to help children who have gone to visit grandpa and grandma, folks who have gone back for weddings and so on. And so finally, we're hearing that there are going to be, after six days of waiting, that ships are finally going to arrive.

But I have to say, Larry, that this reminds me of watching the pictures of people sitting on rooftops in New Orleans that should have been evacuated much more quickly than they were. Six days is way too long. People are afraid and have every right to be. People at home are worried about their families. And it's been at least six days, and it may be much, much longer before people are able to get home.

KING: Congressman Dingell obviously they've waived the fees. Are you criticizing the other efforts?

REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: No. I'm not criticizing any of the other efforts. I want to see this matter resolved, and I want to see the United States begin to provide the leadership that it can provide for peace, to bring the countries of Europe and the world together, to bring the people in the nations in the area together, and let's get started bringing peace to the area and let's stop having this finger pointing where the Israelis say, well, the Hezbollah did this and Hezbollah says, well, the Israelis did this. I happen to think that Hezbollah started it, and I think it's shameful. But I think Israel's overreacted. But I don't think those are the points that we ought to address. What we have to address now is how do we ease the suffering of those people?

KING: How do we get Sandra Chokr out?

DINGELL: Well, there's, we're beginning to get some ships over there. We have some helicopters that are bringing people out. We're anticipating we'll have some 800 to 1200 out in the next little bit. But the problem, as Senator Stabenow says, we've got 25,000 Americans over there, and 5,000 of them are constituents of hers and mine.

STABENOW: You know, Larry, if I might just add. Other countries began to evacuate on Saturday. There were ships there on Sunday. Italy, Spain, Sweden bringing 2,300 people out. We are way behind the curve here. And people are in very dangerous situations. I had one person call me whose family got caught in a bomb situation. He's now in a hospital. These are dangerous situations.

KING: I've got to get a break. I thank you both for being with us. Sandra, the best of luck to you. We'll keep your sister on and work hard for you. Sandra Chokr on the phone in Lebanon near the Syrian border. Thelma will remain with us. Two others will join us. Don't go away.


KING: Rock and rolling tonight. Let's go to Larnaca, Cyprus. Chris Burns is standing by, CNN's Berlin bureau chief.

What's the latest on getting people out of there?

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, we're going to see thousands of people being moved in and out of here in the next couple of days.

Over my shoulder is the French-chartered ship that arrived yesterday with some 900 people, including 50 Americans. They're heading back over to Beirut any minute now.

Next to it is this freighter. It's a ferry boat chartered by the Norwegians. It's bringing in some 800 Norwegians and Scandinavians, as well as about 150 American university students. Americans are being taken out.

The people here say they're frantic, setting up the arrangements for the people coming out. They didn't expect them to be arriving here so early.

And this ship over here is a Greek frigate that just arrived this evening. Four hundred people, including a little girl by the name of Jackie (ph), 11 years old. She was stranded because the French ship yesterday couldn't take on all its passengers. The Israelis said we've got to start our air strikes again, you've got to get out of here. And she had to spend another night in Beirut. Her mother wringing her hands, crying, until she came back on this ship tonight.

So a lot of stories. That's a typical story. A lot of young children that are stranded in Beirut, and their parents are waiting for them to get out.

And we saw that case just tonight. A tearful reunion.

KING: Thank you, Chris Burns, CNN's Berlin bureau chief in Larnaca, Cyprus.

Let's go to Beirut now and Rana Alamuddin. She's a Lebanese- American actress and TV personality, been living in Lebanon with her husband, who is Lebanese-Canadian. Do you want to get out now, Rana?

RANA ALAMUDDIN, ACTRESS: Yes, actually. At this point, yes. We were a bit more hopeful a few days ago, but now we really want to leave. The only way to leave safely Lebanon is through the evacuation with the American embassy, but the annoying thing with the American embassy, the problem is that they will not let my husband leave, because he's not an American citizen. Whereas with the Canadian embassy, although I am not Canadian, I can be evacuated with my husband. So we're waiting to hear news about when we can be evacuated on a boat to go to Cyprus or to Turkey, and then leave from there.

KING: We have an e-mail from Rick of North Hollywood, who asks: "Why are some U.S. citizens upset at the United States for taking some time to plan a rescue when the State Department has had travel warnings for U.S. citizens not to go to Lebanon for some time?" They choose to go. How do you react to that?

ALAMUDDIN: Well, personally, I've been here for two years. So it's not like I decided to come here on holidays. And then some other people, you know, are here to see family or want to visit the country. They didn't expect this to happen. I just -- we wanted things to happen a bit quicker. We understand that these things take time and they're very complex to organize, but we just -- the French were able to leave. The Italians were able to leave. We just expect that as, you know, America, that we would be able to leave, you know, with them or even before.

KING: Thank you, Rana.

When we come back, we'll close it out with Nada Ghattas. We talked to her last night. She's trapped in Beirut and hoping to evacuate, our restaurant manager from Los Angeles. And Thelma Gutierrez remains with us, our CNN correspondent, who's actually on maternity leave, but came in to be with us tonight, discussing her sister, trapped in Lebanon.

We'll be right back.


KING: Let's check in with our friend, Nada Ghattas. She's the 26-year-old restaurant manager from Los Angeles, trapped in Beirut and hoping to evacuate. Any news today, Nada?

NADA GHATTAS, RESTAURANT MANAGER: Well, like everyone else, we're just kind of waiting for news from the embassy. I've already registered myself and my parents via e-mail quite a few days ago. I haven't really heard much. I've signed up on the warden mailing list, where they update you regularly as to what's going on, although I feel they should update us more regularly, considering the situation.

We get e-mails just about every other day on what's going on. Unfortunately, as other people have said on the program, the evacuation is going a little slower than we would expect or hope.

So right now, again, we're just crossing our fingers and hoping everything, you know, goes smoothly and we can get out of here.

KING: We wish you the very best, Nada.

Thelma Gutierrez remains with us, our CNN correspondent.

GHATTAS: Thank you very much.

KING: Her sister, as we spoke with her sister, trapped in Lebanon. What's it like for you?

GUTIERREZ: You know, we're all on pins and needles. It's truly hard to watch television and to see what's going on. I think what's really difficult is that we don't have a lot of information as the people who are there in Lebanon. They're waiting for the embassy to give them updates. We're waiting for those updates to figure out how exactly this evacuation's going to happen.

And she's not in Beirut. She's near the Syrian border in the Bekaa Valley. So we're wondering, how is she to get to Beirut if that's the evacuation point? And we're just not sure about that.

KING: Are you critical of the United States?

GUTIERREZ: I know it's incredibly difficult. I mean, logistically, it's hard enough to try to figure out how you get 12 kids to a ball game. We're talking about 25,000 citizens who are there and trying to get them out and take them to Cyprus, and then what about hotels in Cyprus, as Chris Burns was saying? Where do you put all those people?

I understand that it's not easy. I wish, though, that there would be a way to get this information to get these people out quickly, and to alleviate some of the concern that they have through information.

KING: But you'd go over there, if you had the shot, right? To cover it?

GUTIERREZ: You know, Larry, what can I say? I mean, if I could be there, we all place ourselves in those types of situations. And...

KING: How old is your little baby?

GUTIERREZ: ... I would have to say yes.

Pardon me?

KING: How old is the little baby?

GUTIERREZ: Oh, my daughter. She's almost two months old. And that was one of the reasons that I wanted my sister to come home quickly, to be able to see her new niece.

KING: When do you go back to work?

GUTIERREZ: Well, I'm working that out right now. I think I should be back in maybe a month or so.

KING: Good luck, Thelma. Good luck to your sister, too.

GUTIERREZ: Thanks, Larry. Appreciate it.

KING: Thelma Gutierrez.

That's our program for tonight. We'll be back again, of course, tomorrow night, with lots more coverage of this ongoing situation that gets worse before it gets better.

Right now, let's head out to "ANDERSON COOPER 360." Anderson is in Cyprus. Anderson, it's yours.


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