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Israel, Hamas Reach Cease-Fire Agreement; Interview With Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren

Aired November 21, 2012 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast of the United States, 5:00 a.m. here in Jerusalem, where we're coming to you tonight, a new day here. We're entering day nine of the Israel/Hamas conflict. And there is of course a cease-fire in effect.

When word spread of the agreement, this was the reaction in Gaza City. People took to the streets, massive traffic and crowds as people celebrated, Gazans celebrated what they saw as a victory for Hamas and for Gaza.

The question tonight, will the cease-fire hold or will all of this cheering end in rockets once again crisscrossing over the borders? Will all these people once again take cover in their homes, will the celebrations ends and the fear return?

For U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi, who pushed for the cease-fire, the hope is of course that the deal will stick. The agreement calls for a discussion on a number of issues, including freedom of movement for Palestinians in and out of Gaza and a commitment by Israel not to target militants within Gaza and also a commitment from militant groups in Gaza, Hamas included, to halt rocket fire into Israel. Again, a discussion. Nothing is a done deal.

Over the next hour, we will look at negotiations still happening now, and we will also hear from the spokeswoman for the Israeli Defense Forces and from the leader much Hamas, plus, our reporter on the ground and a whole lot more.

We begin with a look at what has transpired over just the last 24 hours, and it's remarkable there is a cease-fire at this hour when you consider how this Wednesday started off. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): At midday, no sign of a truce when a city bus is bombed in Tel Aviv, and at least two dozen people are wounded. Israeli police say terrorists left two bombs on the bus and fled. Only one exploded. Hamas praised the attack near the headquarters of the Israeli Defense Forces. But the group didn't claim responsibility.

Farther South, an Israeli home was hit by a rocket, room after room left in ruins. According to the Israeli military, more than 60 rockets were fired from Gaza today, with more than 40 landing in Southern Israel. The others were intercepted. Across the border in Gaza, several large explosions throughout the morning and afternoon, 100 strikes confirmed by Israeli authorities today before the cease- fire.

The skyline of Gaza City covered in smoke. The city on edge. On some streets, buildings were turned to rubble. CNN's Arwa Damon got a look at what's left behind.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There used to be a small, rarely well-known shop here that actually has branches throughout the city selling wedding dresses, party dresses, and there's a bouquet lying in amidst the rubble. It appears that in this case the target of the strike was the police station behind it.

COOPER: But this evening local time after intense hours of negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi announced a cease-fire.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States welcomes the agreement today for a cease-fire in Gaza. For it to hold, the rocket attacks must end, a broader calm returned.

COOPER: A short time later, in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks with reporters.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I know there are those who expect an even more intense military response, and that may perhaps be needed.

But at this time, the right thing for the state of Israel is to exhaust this opportunity to obtain a long-term cease-fire.

COOPER: Throughout Gaza, celebratory gunfire rings out. The leader of Hamas remains defiant.

KHALED MESHAAL, HAMAS LEADER (through translator): Israel in all of its goals have failed, thanks to God.

COOPER: And on the streets of Gaza City, massive crowds and traffic. The tension seemingly gone as people celebrate the cease- fire and leave their homes for the first time in days.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I haven't seen this many people in the streets of Gaza for quite some time. You can hear the mosques blaring, horns honking, people whistling, cheering.


COOPER: And let's go over to Gaza City right now. Ben Wedeman is there, along with CNN's Arwa Damon reporting.

Ben, I assume it's quieted down. It's now 3:00 a.m., just a little after 3:00 a.m. there. Let's move the story forward. What happens now? WEDEMAN: Well, really the next sort of 24 hours is critical.

We can still hear the drones overhead. The Israeli troops are still on the border of Gaza. If the cease-fire holds, if there are not major violations -- and the Israeli military has expressed the realization that there may be some violations -- but if nothing major occurs, then they will be able to start actually talking about some of the details that were laid out in the agreement that was worked out between Hamas and Israel with the help of the Egyptians, things like opening of the crossings, easing of travel restrictions. Certainly, Hamas is going to welcome the fact that they will no longer be moving targets whenever they step outside their houses here in Gaza.

So it's really -- if we can get through a period of relative quiet and peace, then they can start working on something a little more permanent than just 24 hours of relative quiet -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, Arwa, I can hear in the skies behind you, I can hear those drones still overhead, a sound we have heard a lot over the last eight or nine days. You have spoken with a lot of people today there, a lot of people this evening, and how do they see it?

DAMON: Well, there's, of course, a sense of relief understandably, even if the cease-fire does not hold, that for the time being, they are able to get out.

We were down in the streets amongst them, many of them celebrating they were saying what they were calling Hamas' victory, a victory for the Palestinians, others though saying they were simply out celebrating because they could, because they had spent so many days cooped up. There were entire vehicles with children packed inside them. One father saying his kids had begged him to take them out, because they had spent so much time indoors and just an overwhelming sense of relief that at least for one night for now, people can get some sleep and be at ease with the knowledge that at least for now there will not be that unexpected strike near their home.

COOPER: Ben, you and I have talked about this a lot over the last couple of nights, about the level of support Hamas has among people in Gaza. Talk about that a little bit, and the decision made tonight, the cease-fire, how does that bolster Hamas?

WEDEMAN: Well, it bolsters Hamas in the sense that they were able to, A., confront Israel, to really, you know, provide a military challenge to Israel, and emerge from it without leaving large swathes of Gaza in rubble. What we saw four years ago, they had another confrontation with Israel. Israel sent in the ground troops, it was a 22-day bruising war with 1,400 people killed.

After that, there was a good deal of resentment against Hamas for sort of getting Gaza into that sort of mess. This time around, the mess has been avoided in relative terms compared to the last four years, and Hamas can say as a result of this war, we have something to show, an easing of the crossings, an end to Israeli military operations and airstrikes within Gaza, these targeted airstrikes. I'm not talking about the campaign of bombing of the last eight days. They do have something to show for the suffering that has happened here and that is something that will bolster their position. Is Hamas popular? Not necessarily. There are a lot of people who benefit from it, but many Palestinians here in Gaza really do feel that Hamas is really by no means a democratic regime and it's a regime that really doesn't have much tolerance for any sort of dissent -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, we have certainly seen that.

Arwa Damon, Ben Wedeman, stay with us.

I want to bring in Avital Leibovich, the spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces. She's joining me here in Jerusalem.

I'm curious to know your thoughts on this cease-fire. Obviously, the devil's in the details, and you want to see what's going to happen over the next 24 hours. But for now, the Israeli troops that had massed on the border, are they staying there?

LT. COL. AVITAL LEIBOVICH, SPOKESWOMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: They are staying there only for the night. Tomorrow, we will have an assessment, operational assessment, and then we will decide what to do with the soldiers. Many some of them will be sent home. Others will be staying just so we can see if the situation stabilizes.

COOPER: If it stabilize for 24 hours, do you know, and can you comment on whether those drones will continue to fly?

LEIBOVICH: The drones is a totally different issue. It has something to do with intelligence, but we won't attack Gaza since we are respecting the cease-fire. However, if a launcher with a launching squad will attempt to target us, we will have to target that launching squad.

COOPER: There have been some rockets fired toward Israel. How many since the cease-fire went into effect?

LEIBOVICH: Since 9:00 this evening Israeli time, five rockets have been fired. Two of them were intercepted by one of our Iron Dome batteries and three have landed in Israel.

COOPER: And how do you view that?

LEIBOVICH: We try to take it in proportion and see that this is just the beginning of the cease-fire. This is why we haven't responded.

And as I said before, the next coming weeks will really determine where exactly are we heading.

COOPER: Even though there have been five rockets fired, beyond the Iron Dome response, you haven't responded to try and take out where those rockets were fired from?

LEIBOVICH: Right. We are practicing our restraint.

COOPER: In terms of Hamas, what does this mean for Israel's relationship with Hamas?

LEIBOVICH: Well, first of all, Hamas suffered a very harsh blow in this operation.

We targeted quite a large part of its arsenal, especially the Fajr-5, the same Iranian-manufactured missiles, rockets that reach all the way to the Tel Aviv area and the Jerusalem area. I believe that Hamas was very much surprised with our intelligence capabilities since many of these launchers were hidden underground or in civilian places like a soccer stadium that we targeted one of the nights or media buildings had some terrorists in them and so on.

So the combination of the surprise effect, the good intelligence, and the very accurate targets, I think caused quite a big shock to Hamas.

COOPER: Obviously, Israel in the past has dealt with the Palestinian Authority. Israel does not recognize Hamas. Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist. Can you foresee a day where that changes, where Israel sits down with Hamas or recognizes Hamas?

LEIBOVICH: This is really political echelon, but I don't see a near time of -- you know, a day that will be in the near future for this kind of reconciliation.

COOPER: There are clearly a number of Israelis who wanted more of an operation. Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke about that. What would a ground operation have looked like from the IDF's perspective?

LEIBOVICH: A lot of forces, maybe even tens of thousands, going deeply into the rockets area where the storage is, looking for those tunnels exactly, because we have bombed something like 140 tunnels in this current operation out of 400. So going deeply into those places in those civilian areas where the weaponry and the ammunition is really hidden there, this is something you can do only with ground forces.

COOPER: Do you have any idea how many Fajr-5, Fajr-3 rockets, these more sophisticated rockets that Hamas, Islamic Jihad have gotten ahold of, how many they still have left?

LEIBOVICH: A small number, to our estimation. However...


COOPER: Like dozens or...

LEIBOVICH: Yes, even less than dozens, but keep in mind that Iran will try to smuggle in more rockets of this kind since we have damaged this arsenal.

COOPER: You have no doubt that even under the cease-fire that Hamas and other groups will try to get more rockets brought in? LEIBOVICH: I hope it won't happen. I hope Hamas will respect the cease-fire. But it's an option. It has happened in the past many times. But we have to be alert for this kind of option.

COOPER: Avital, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you very much. I know it's late and it's been a long day. Thank you very much.

We have a lot more ahead. The political leader of Hamas says his group was not behind today's bus bombing in Tel Aviv. Christiane Amanpour had an exclusive interview with the Hamas leader in Cairo. She pressed him about whether he would ever, his group would ever be willing to recognize Israel's right to exist -- what he said next.


COOPER: That was the scene in Gaza City earlier today before the cease-fire was announced. Also today, a bus bombing in Tel Aviv wounded more than 20 people. At least two bombs planted on the bus, only one of those bombs actually detonated. The attack happened near the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Christiane Amanpour had an exclusive interview with the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, in Cairo and asked him about that specifically attack.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm asking you, did Hamas claim responsibility? Did Hamas do that?

MESHAAL (through translator): Not Hamas, not others, not other people from, not Hamas. No one can announce except those who committed, not me. The lesson is what matters. What led to this? Who created the circumstances that led to this operations? It is Netanyahu with his crimes, in killing the kids of Gaza, and the continuity of aggression.

He creates such ramifications everywhere. This could lead to any kind of reaction as a retaliation for what happened in Gaza.


COOPER: Our reporters in Gaza City said when that when the bombing was announced from loudspeakers in Hamas, there was some celebratory gunfire heard throughout the city in Gaza City.

I spoke with Christiane Amanpour about her interview with the Hamas leader.


COOPER: Christiane, you repeatedly pressed the head of Hamas about whether or not they would ever recognize Israel. He gave a lot of talking points. You really pressed him on it. This is finally what he to say. Let's listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: You say you would accept a two-state solution, but will not recognize Israel's right to exist.

MESHAAL (through translator): I accept a state of the 1967. How can I accept Israel? They have occupied my land. I need recognition, not the Israelis. This is a reverse question.


COOPER: What do you make of what he said, Christiane?

AMANPOUR: Well, I kept pushing him and I kept saying you say this is a reverse question, but it is the question, recognition of Israel.

And after several times, he said, look, when there is a peace agreement, then the Palestinians can decide themselves. That was his final point on that, which I thought was really interesting and it was interesting to hear the head of Hamas say that, and he has become quite the figure at the moment.

You know, Anderson, far from being isolates as the U.S. and Israel have always wanted to do, now with this Muslim Brotherhood bring spring, really people have been beating down the doors throughout this war to go in and stand shoulder to shoulder with Hamas.

They have come out with somewhat elevated stature.

COOPER: And how does that change the dynamic, you think, and particularly with Mahmoud Abbas, with the Palestinian Authority, which is the group that Israel and the United States have been trying to deal with, and as you said trying to politically isolate Hamas by not recognizing them?

AMANPOUR: Well, I think this must be a nightmare for the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas, because all of the attention has been on Hamas in Gaza. And Khaled Meshaal has been here with a seat at the table, obviously talking through the Egyptians to the U.S. and to Israel, but nonetheless a seat at the table.

I think what's really interesting is if indeed the parameters of this cease-fire include a lifting of the blockade of Gaza, an easing of restrictions, trade and commerce, travel restrictions and for the Israelis if it results in a lack of rockets coming into Israel, no more rockets being fired into Israel and no resupply of weapons to Gaza, then perhaps there is something to build on, but the fact of the matter is, it looks like Hamas is a force to be reckoned with even after this eight days or more of war.

COOPER: And negotiations if the cease-fire holds for the next 24 hours, negotiations are to begin for these next steps?

AMANPOUR: Yes, obviously, this is sort of a cease-fire, but there are many more things to be built on it.

And the interesting thing again here, which didn't happen before, is that Egypt, the leading player in getting this cease-fire, is a guarantor of the cease-fire. That was something that Israel wanted and Hamas wanted as well. But Israel and Israeli officials told me in Jerusalem that they didn't want to go into another nebulous cease- fire. They wanted real partners, as they said, to guarantee it, and if there is a problem and if they think somebody has been violating it, they can go and talk to the guarantor, so that I think is a bit of a change as well.

COOPER: Christiane Amanpour, I appreciate talking to you tonight. Thank you.


COOPER: Well, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned there could be additional military action if the cease-fire does not lead to long- term security.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon says a broader cease-fire and long-term solutions are necessary to address the underlying causes of conflict.

Joining me now live is Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States from Israel.

Michael, we have heard from a lot of Israelis tonight, particularly on the border regions along the Gaza border, who are very concerned and very doubtful about Hamas' ability long term to maintain the cease-fire and to live up to the agreements and to make progress on these agreements. How can you guarantee that Hamas will simply not use this and other groups like Islamic Jihad as an opportunity to rearm, to restock their supplies of some of these sophisticated weapons that we have seen them having?

MICHAEL OREN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Well, first of all, it's good to be back with you, Anderson, as always.

Well, you can understand some Israelis are incredulous, a little skeptical about the cease-fire. They have been living under weekly, if not daily rocket attacks from Hamas since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, and, yes, they have seen various cease-fires and seen those cease-fires being violated again and again by Hamas.

Prime Minister Netanyahu took a very courageous decision. President Obama asked him to take a risk on the cease-fire, and Prime Minister Netanyahu out of respect for the president, out of appreciation for everything that America has done for Israel during the conflict, particularly in supporting the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to that cease-fire.

There are no guarantees. And Israel will always reserve the right to defend ourselves, should Hamas start shooting at us again. But we have no desire for conflict with the Palestinians of Gaza. We want to live in peace with our neighbors amongst ourselves. And if Hamas doesn't fire at us, Hamas has nothing to worry about from the state of Israel.

COOPER: I mean, but do you see now Egypt playing a greater role in trying to stop the flow of weapons from in these tunnels, which is where a lot of the rockets are coming through, through Sinai, through Sudan, also in through Sinai, and then through the tunnels?

OREN: Well, we greatly appreciated, Anderson, Egypt's role in this. Egypt made a very, very positive contribution to realizing the cease-fire, but, yes, Egypt has a role also in blocking the flow of smuggled arms from Iran either through Sudan or through Libya. Both those routes pass through Egyptian territory before arriving in Gaza.

COOPER: According to the terms of the cease-fire, the underlying grievances of Gazans, in particular border restrictions, preventing the movement of people and goods through Gaza, will be addressed after 24 hours of the cease-fire being in effect.

So, just to be clear, if we see no sign of aggression from within Gaza for 24 hours, these issues will be built with immediately thereafter?


OREN: They will certainly be discussed.

We have had -- our border crossings have been open to Gaza for virtually every type of material. There's no food shortage, no medical shortage, except for certain materials which we call dual use, like aluminum tubing that could also be used to make missiles. That type of material was passed on to non-government organizations or to U.N. organizations that we could trust.

There's a big question about the border between Gaza and Egypt and the degree to which that will be open as well.

COOPER: According to a senior Obama administration official, it was the president's -- President Obama's two phone calls today that "closed the deal." Is that accurate to your understanding of how things played out? And what did the U.S. offer to various parties in order to maybe sweeten the deal?

OREN: Well, President Obama played an outstanding leadership role in helping to achieve the cease-fire and also Secretary of State Clinton who shuttled without stop between Jerusalem, and Ramallah and Cairo and was also instrumental in achieving the agreement.

The sweetened support for Israel, support for Israel diplomatically, standing beside us and upholding our right to defend ourselves in the face of Hamas terror, that was very important for us, and also it's important for that Iron Dome missile system, which you saw working, Anderson, and working so outstandingly, taking down about 85 percent to 90 percent of all the incoming rockets and denying Hamas the opportunity or the ability to strike at our five-and-a-half million Israelis who were under rocket fire.

COOPER: We talked about this, Ambassador, a few hours ago. There have now been apparently five rockets launched, a number of them intercepted. But three of them landed in Southern Israel. How do you see that? How seriously do you take that in terms of a violation of the cease-fire thus far?

OREN: Well, we assumed it would take a while for the cease-fire to take hold. I understand now that it has taken hold, there hasn't been fire for a while, and, of course, we are not firing, so there is a cease-fire, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Ambassador Oren, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.

OREN: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, as the ambassador said, right now, the rockets are silent. But there is death and destruction on both sides. There has been.

Can the cease-fire hold and a sincere effort at peace begin? That's the question, of course. I will speak with former Senator George Mitchell, who was President Obama's special envoy to the Mideast. He's going to talk about what it was actually like, what it's like inside those negotiating rooms in this, the most difficult of all solutions to try to come up with?

We will be right back.



FREDRICK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So this is an assortment of rockets that have fallen over the Ashkelon area. It's not all of them; it's only some of them. There's more laying around here. But there's various types of rockets that you can find here. For instance, this is apparently a grab rocket, that you can tell by the fins that pop out when the rockets get launched, whereas this one here is one of those homemade Qassam rockets. This one is made in a workshop in Gaza, and you can tell, because the fins are just welded on in a very rudimentary way.


COOPER: That was CNN's Fred Pleitgen on the Hamas rockets that fell on Israel before this cease-fire. He and his crew were forced to take cover a number of times.

One American diplomat who understands the difficulty of what it took to negotiate this cease-fire and what it's going to take to maintain it, is former Maine senator, George Mitchell. He was President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East from 2009 to 2011.

Mitchell previously held the post of Senate majority leader, so he's schooled in the art of negotiating with those who hold opposing viewpoints. And in the 1990s, he served as chairman of peace negotiations in northern Ireland that ultimately led to the successful Good Friday peace agreement.

I spoke to him earlier about the day's developments in the Middle East and the difficulties that definitely lie ahead.


COOPER: Senator Mitchell, how optimistic are that you this cease-fire can hold, and what would the next steps be, assuming it does hold?

GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE MIDDLE EAST: Well, it's a big step forward, because the violence has ended, and that's critically important. The longer it goes on with more fighting and dying, the harder it is to solve any problem.

On the other hand, past experiences tells us it will be difficult to have a really enforceable truce that takes hold over a long period of time. They've been through this before several times.

But I think there may be a recognition here that both side's interests can be served by stopping this kind of violence and getting down to serious discussion on the underlying issues that involve both.

COOPER: In terms of a larger peace agreement, a larger negotiation, how complicated does it become because of the divisions within Palestinian groups, between Fatah, the Palestinian Authority in control of the West Bank, Hamas in control of Gaza, and also involvement of other groups, factions, Islamic Jihad.

MITCHELL: Very complicated. By far and away the most complicated situation I've been involved in. And I think it goes far beyond what you described. It is -- it makes it very difficult.

In fact, both societies are divided. Israel has got an election coming up in two months. We don't know for sure what the outcome of that is going to be, and the Arab Spring has created a new dynamic in the region. Not before experience which hopefully can be harnessed for the benefit of moving forward in the peace process but which also could provide some obstacles.

So it's the most complicated situation imaginable, Anderson, and -- but I think even though we haven't been able to do it in the past, we have to keep doing trying, because it's so important to the people there, to the region, and to the interests of the United States.

COOPER: Egypt's role is beyond just as a guarantor and a negotiating partner. If -- if Israel's confidence in their own security is to be assured, the flow of weapons into Gaza has to stop, and Egypt would play a critical role in that, because it seems like a large number of these rockets, the Fajr-5, the Fajr-3, the more sophisticated rockets we're seeing being used in the last year, just in the last couple of days, are being smuggled in these tunnels through Egypt.

MITCHELL: That's right. And that's not new, Anderson. The nearly three years that I was there, that was a constant subject of discussion, controversy.

It's not easy for Egypt. Remember, this is a vast territory, much of it desert. Not very well policed, not very well governed. A lot of competing local interests, the Bedouin interests; they're contrary to those of the national government in some cases here.

So Egypt is undertaking a major role here, and how they're able to succeed in that will go a long way toward deciding how much the whole process moves forward. They are to be commended to what they've done so far.

COOPER: This may be a dumb question, a naive question. But when you're in these negotiating rooms, I mean, is there -- is there yelling? Is there -- are there arguments, or is it very kind of calm and rational?

MITCHELL: Well, in my case, almost all of the discussions were with one side at a time. They wouldn't talk to each other. So while there was a little -- a few occasions -- of raised voices, the two did not correctly come together.

When we did have the brief meetings between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, they were tense and direct and straight-forward. I wouldn't say yelling, but they made their points very emphatically, both sides.

It will be some time, I think, before you're going to get an Israeli representative in the same room with a representative from Hamas. Tough enough to get them in the same room with a Palestinian Authority, which as I said, is committed to nonviolent and negotiations.

COOPER: And I'm curious: sometimes, you know, as a reporter, when you're interviewing people from various factions, you know, they kind of go into their talking points and use a lot of rhetoric.

Is it that way when it's you one-on-one with them? I mean, do you have to kind of sit through a lot of -- a lot of rhetoric? Or does everyone cut to the chase when it's just one-on-one, there's no cameras around?

MITCHELL: You've got to sit through a lot of rhetoric. If you don't have patience, have perseverance and the ability to listen for long periods of time, don't get in the business of reconciling conflicts.

In Northern Ireland, which is a completely different situation, I spent five years there. I sat through thousands of repetitious hours. And there, there was yelling. There were insults. There were people storming out of the room, storming back, demanding that the other side be thrown out. There was quite a bit of that. And you have to have a huge reservoir of patience, and be able to sit through it, listen to it all, let everybody have their say.

But in the end, what you have to identify is their self-interest. Peace cannot be imposed from the outside, unless you do it by overwhelming force of arms, which is obviously not the case here. The parties have to want peace themselves. They can't rely upon the United States or any outside power to bring them to peace, if they're not interested themselves.

We've now had, since the creation of Israel, 12 Israeli prime ministers, 10 American president, 19 American secretaries of state, countless envoys like myself, and it didn't get done. But it's so important that we have to keep trying.

COOPER: Senator Mitchell, I really appreciate your time. It's fascinating to listen to you. Thank you.

MITCHELL: Thanks, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, it's a much different scene in Gaza City than what we saw this morning. We're going to check in with Ben Wedeman in Gaza City to find out what is going on right now, whether surveillance drones are still flying. I'm sure they are. Talk to him next.


COOPER: When we come back, we'll take you live to Gaza City. All the latest on what is happening there right now and what the next 24 hours may hold. We'll be right back.






COOPER: That was the reaction when word of the cease-fire began to spread through Gaza City. People who'd been cooped up in their homes for days pouring into the streets, waving flags, happy, not only for the cease-fire, which many saw as a victory for Hamas, a victory for Palestinians, also some just happy to get out of the house after days of bombardment and fear.

Israeli Defense Forces say that five rockets were fired from Gaza within three hours of the cease-fire announcement. And the days and weeks ahead will be crucial. Agreement -- the agreement calls for negotiations on issues including freedom of movement in and out of Gaza.

Joining me right now is Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS"; Princeton University's Ann Marie Slaughter, former director of policy planning at the State Department; and back us with is senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman in Gaza City.

So Ben, we checked in with you at the top of the program. Any change in the situation in Gaza City? I imagine things are pretty quiet. There were celebrations earlier. Those surveillance drones, I assume, are still flying?

WEDEMAN: So quiet now I can hear the chickens downstairs. The drones overheard. The sound of the drones was drowned out for those few hours when people were out celebrating.

But now they're back, and it really is a reminder that Gaza is very much under the control of the Israelis. They control the sky. They patrol with boats off the -- off the coast. And with the warplanes, as well. So much has changed in the last eight days, but much hasn't -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ben -- Ben, if your opinion, I mean, what does this mean for the power of Hamas and the power of the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas? I mean, is this some sort of acknowledgement, A) that the attempt by the U.S. and Israel to politically isolate Hamas has failed? And that the future lies with Hamas, as opposed with Mahmoud Abbas?

WEDEMAN: Well, I don't think the United States is about to switch sides and start backing Hamas.

it does, indeed, represent failure of the policy that was put into effect after the January 2006 elections here in the Palestinian territories, where the United States with Israel, with the European Union, began to impose some fairly stringent restrictions on Hamas, in an attempt to isolate it.

And in June 2007, it's widely believed the United States sort of passively supported an attempted coup d'etat by Fatah to try to oust Hamas from power, and they failed.

And Hamas has managed to survive, now, two Israeli -- sort of wars with Israel, so to speak. It's survived all of that isolation, all of those sanctions.

And now we've seen within the last eight days, senior Arab foreign ministers. We've seen the Turkish foreign minister come. Hamas is suddenly out of its isolation. It's now very much in the mainstream, largely because of the changes in the Arab world with the so-called Arab Spring, Anderson.

COOPER: Fareed Zakaria, is there any -- I mean, we've seen plenty of cease-fires before like this one. Is there any reason to believe this one will be different? That it will actually lead to something more long-term?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: I think it's unlikely to lead to something long term unless Israel wants it to. But it's very unlikely that the cease-fire will break down completely and that the conflict will spread, which is one of the things a lot of people have said.

Look, the reality, Anderson, to put this in context, is Israel is now the military superpower of the region. Ben has wonderfully documented for us the incredible asymmetry of power. So when the Egyptians think about getting involved or the Turks think about getting involved, they realize they're up against an Israeli military which is just far superior to anything that they have, and certainly far superior to anything even ten years ago.

The Israelis now spend more money on their defense budget than all their neighbors combined. So they're in a whole different league, partly because of technology, partly because the Israeli economy is doing so well. But the reality is, no -- that is a very strong deterrent to the Egyptians or to the Turks to get involved.

COOPER: Fareed, in your opinion, what does this mean about Iran? About the power of Iran in the region and involvement of Iran in the region?

ZAKARIA: I think it shows the limits. The Iranians are bogged down with their ally Syria. They're trying to do something about that. I doubt very much they were very involved in this in the first place. But it shows you that they don't have much of a reach. You know, this has always been the claim, that through Hezbollah and Hamas, they had some special asymmetrical power.

I think this reveals that Israel really dominates the region. And, you know, if the Israelis want to make peace -- if the Palestinians want peace, they're going to have to make it on Israeli terms right now.

COOPER: Anne Marie, do you agree with that?

ANN MARIE SLAUGHTER, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, in part. I mean, one thing I would note, and one of the reasons that Israel has such military predominance is also because of the tremendous support the Obama administration has given Israel on defense matters.

You heard Ambassador Oren refer several times to U.S. assistance on Iron Dome, and the Obama administration has pointed out multiple times, that it has really given Israeli more defense cooperation than any other administration. So that is part of Israel's predominance.

And I agree with Fareed.

Where I would disagree a little is I do think that Hamas has shown that, notwithstanding two Israeli incursion and sanctions, IT'S not only survived, but it's increased its ability to inflict pain on Israel.

I mean, this incursion started because of the constant firing of the rockets. Over the course of the last week, we've seen rockets landing in Tel Aviv and even aimed at Jerusalem. So I totally agree that Iran can't level the military playing field, not even close.

But I do think Hamas has more power and now, of course, more political recognition than we might have expected.

ZAKARIA: The interesting question, Anderson, will be...

COOPER: Go ahead. ZAKARIA: The interesting question, Anderson, will be whether Hamas gains from this politically. Because really, what they've been able to do is survive. They've been able to survive. They have these pinprick attacks. You know, these undecided missiles have been very effective.

Yes, they have caused the Israelis to go through these procedures where they have to go into shelters, but they -- you know, they really don't kill people and they certainly don't disrupt Israel in a meaningful sense.

The question is, are they more popular on the street? There is a lot of evidence that both Fatah and Hamas are actually very unpopular with the Palestinian people. They're sort of stuck with them. And partly because of, you know, the Israeli embargo and blockade and the pressure, they don't want to oust Hamas, because that would be, in a sense, doing what the Israelis want, but Hamas is not very popular.

COOPER: Yes, and Ben Wedeman, you've been saying that also now for several nights, that they're not all that popular.

WEDEMAN: No, they're not popular, and Fareed is right to point out that Fatah itself is not popular. I think many Palestinians are weary of being caught between these two factions, which -- neither of which has really achieved what they want, which is some sort of final solution and the ability to live in a state of their own in peace.

Both have sort of -- Fatah was a major sort of engine behind the Second Intifada, which really didn't leave the Palestinians anything in the way of positive results.

Hamas has -- has sort of gotten Gaza into endless trouble with Israel. I think there -- people are here -- are, indeed, looking for some sort of third alternative, that can sort of negotiate with Israel, that they can stay out of sort of the swamp of corruption that Fatah fell into, and that many people here in Gaza say Hamas has gotten into with all the money it's making off of the tunnels and whatnot.

So, yes, I think there is an exhaustion with both parties, but we've yet to see a third force to emerge here as an alternative -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ben Wedeman, Fareed Zakaria, Ann Marie Slaughter, thank you very much.

We're following a number of other stories. Susan Hendricks is going to have a "360 News and Business Bulletin," some domestic politics about Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Also Susan Rice speaking out for the first time about the situation in Benghazi.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Hey, welcome back. We're in Jerusalem tonight. We're following a number of other stories. Susan Hendricks is here with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, tonight U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice is responding to Republicans criticizing her for initially blaming the deadly Benghazi consulate attack on protesters angry over anti-Muslim video. Rice says she was relaying information provided by the intelligence community and made clear the accounts were preliminary.

Jesse Jackson Jr. resigning his seat in Congress today and blaming deteriorating health. Chicago voters just elected Jackson to his tenth term, despite being under investigation by the FBI and the House Ethics Committee.

You know, stores are expecting smaller crowds this Black Friday. The National Retail Federation is predicting 147 million people will go bargain hunting this weekend. That is down from 220 million last year. The report mainly blames the slow economy and concerns over the fiscal cliff.

And you can call Cobbler the luckiest turkey in America, after receiving an official pardon from President Obama. Unlike millions of other turkeys heading for the oven, Cobbler is retiring to George Washington's former home at Mount Vernon.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Susan, thanks very much. We'll be right back.


COOPER: OK, that's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.