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Clinton: Israelis and Palestinians Agree on Measures to End ViolenceAired October 17, 2000 - 6:39 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: We are following this breaking story here, word of a breakthrough at the Mideast talks in Egypt. You are looking at a live picture now as the leaders are filing in.
We expect that they will make some comments. You can see President Bill Clinton standing there in the middle. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to his right; Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, on the other side, along with the various other leaders, like Secretary-General of the U.N. Kofi Annan, who we have been their throughout these two days of talks.
And we do have word that they have come to agreement on several issues. First and foremost, we understand that both Barak and Arafat will make public statements that they are asking for calm to be restored to the area of the West Bank, Gaza Strip of course, and to Israel, after just about three weeks of fighting. More than 100 people have been killed in the area.
We understand the second area of agreement right now is on some sort of fact-finding commission to look into the recent violence. The leaders have gone in there with expectations, different expectations at times about how that commission would look. Our understanding now is that the U.S. will lead this fact-finding commission, hand in hand with the U.N.
Palestinians and Israelis would also take part in this. Again this news just developing in Egypt for us right now. We let you listen in to the comments, if the leaders have any. Of course, we will take that live.
But again, the third point that we understand there is agreement right now on is that the leaders are agreeing to walk towards the path to negotiations at a further date to, again, come back to a formal peace table to talk more about a broader peace agreement. However, nothing has been decided on that in a concrete way at this time.
But again, an agreement we understand out of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. The leaders are in their second -- have been in their second day of talks there. Talks went very late into the night last night. We were told that President Clinton, himself, just got about three hours of sleep before he jumped right back into things today.
Most of the meetings have been one-on-one bilateral meetings, although at times there were more people involved, meetings that we understand were very contentious at times. We understand there were shouting, lots of accusations, as the leaders tried to come back to some understanding of what they could walk away from these peace talks with.
But again, first and foremost, we understand that perhaps the most important thing that's being agreed to there today is that the Israelis and the Palestinians are agreeing that they will end the fighting.
One of the big questions is whether that agreement will stick, whether they will quickly be able to call a halt to what has been happening the last few weeks. But, of course, we will have to see what they have to say, and what they will be telling their people.
But, again, we understand that there is an agreement that they will call for an end to the fighting. And along with that, we understand that Arafat will be re-arresting some people that were released from jails as this recent violence started just a few weeks ago.
Again, you are looking at live pictures out of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. Reporters, various people are in there, waiting to hear what the leaders have to say. There's U.N. Secretary-General right there Kofi Annan, who has been a major player in bringing the leaders together to talk about what's been happening.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak there. And you can also see in this picture now Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is there right next to President Bill Clinton.
Of course, President Clinton has about a month until the next U.S. president is elected, a few more months left in his formal term, but I'm sure there's nothing he would like more than to come out of this with some agreement.
What we're going to do right now is join the coverage on our sister network, CNN International. Our own Christiane Amanpour is speaking there. We join their coverage live.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
HOSNI MUBARAK, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (through translator): ... before they give authority to Bill Clinton, the president of United States of America, in his capacity as a key sponsor of the peace to present his reports on the outcome of our relentless efforts over the two days, I would like to stress the fact of a number of key points that we should take into account in the days to come.
First, the outcome we have reached at the summit may not meet the expectations of all peoples. However, at the same time, a basis on which we can build on, if we have good intentions, and if the real desire to achieve peace is there.
And secondly, the most important thing in division of our peoples in the days to come is the extensive to which the two parties are committed to implement what has been agreed upon precisely, and how far they are willing to push forward to the peace process, to push the peace process forward. Hence the following days we will witness redeployment of the Israeli forces, lift the (inaudible) on three million Palestinian people, re-opening the crossing points in order to pacify the Palestinian streets and brain matters back to normal.
Number three, our ultimate objective must and will be reached just as a comprehensive peace we do appreciate the leading role assumed by the United States of America, the key sponsor of the peace process. And the sponsorship of Bill Clinton, and the will. And we highly commend the role he assumed, including his strenuous efforts he exerted during this summit, which was -- which were crowned in reaching an agreement.
It's my fervent hope that the peace process will go on as planned and that we avoid having recourse to provocative acts, confrontations that are there. We have to establish a constructive dialogues in order to settle all the undesirable been problems to arrive at a peace agreement in the context of all respect of religious sanctities, and the rights of peoples to live in peace and stability.
And now I give the floor to his excellency, President Bill Clinton, the president of the United States of America.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, I want to thank President Mubarak and his able team for making it possible for us to have the meeting that we have held in this magnificent and beautiful place.
I especially want to thank President Mubarak for Egypt's consistent and pivotal partnership in the peace process and for playing a critical role in that pursuit. I also want to thank King Abdullah for his steadfast leadership for which he is now working in the Middle East. And especially I want to thank Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has been here now in the region for more than a week and who has worked tirelessly to bring an end to violence and to make this meeting possible. But, of course, for the greatest credit for the progress that we have made today belongs to Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat, who have had to overcome the difficulties of these last several days, and we all recognize that their's was the primary decision to make.
Our meeting has not been easy because the last two weeks have been so hard, a tragic and terrible confrontation costing many lives and injuries, threatening everything that we have worked to achieve between Israelis and Palestinians and throughout the region over the past seven years now. Even as we meet, the situation in the territories remains tense. Yesterday, again, was violent. This is a reminder of the urgency of breaking the cycle of violence.
I believe we have made real progress today. Repairing the damage will take time and great effort by all of us. When we leave here today, we will have to work hard to consolidate what we have agreed.
Let me summarize what has been agreed so there will be no misunderstanding. Our primary objective has been to end the current violence so we can begin again to resume our efforts toward peace. The leaders have agreed on three basic objectives and steps to realize them:
First, both sides have agreed to issue public statements unequivocally calling for an end of violence. They also agreed to take immediate concrete measures to end the current confrontation, eliminate points of friction, ensure an end to violence and incitement, maintain calm and prevent recurrence of recent events. To accomplish this, both sides will act immediately to return the situation to that which existed previous to the current crisis, in areas such as restoring law and order, redeployment of forces, eliminating points of friction, enhancing security cooperation and ending the closure and opening the Gaza airport. The United States will facilitate security cooperation between the parties as needed.
Second, the United States will develop with the Israelis and Palestinians, as well as in consultation with the United Nations' secretary general, a committee of fact-finding on the events of the past several weeks and how to prevent their recurrence. The committee's report will be shared by the U.S. president with the UN secretary general and the parties prior to publication. A final report shall be submitted under the auspices of the U.S. president for publication.
Third, if we are to address the underlying roots of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, there must be a pathway back to negotiations and a resumption of efforts to reach a permanent status agreement based on the UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and subsequent understandings. Toward this end, the leaders have agreed that the United States would consult with the parties within the next two weeks about how to move forward.
We have made important commitments here today against the backdrop of tragedy and crisis. We should have no illusions about the difficulties again. If we are going to rebuild confidence and trust, we must all do our part; avoiding recrimination and moving forward. I'm counting on each of us to do everything we possibly can in the critical period ahead.
I'm sure it will be a disappointment to some of you but one of the things that all the leaders agreed to was that our statement should stand on its own and we should begin by promoting reconciliation and avoiding conflict by foregoing questions today.
Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no time whatsoever to respond to any media conferences. I declare this summit adjourned.
RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN ANCHOR: You saw the end, a successful end so far to the Middle East emergency summit in the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheikh. President Clinton summarizing what they have achieved. He called it "real progress," although he said, he cautioned "repairing the damage will take time and great effort." He outlined three steps that both sides, the Israeli and the Palestinian, had agreed to. First of all, they had agreed to issue a public statement condemning the violence, take immediate concrete measures to end the violence. President Clinton said the U.S. will develop a committee of fact-finding.
And joining us with more perspective now from the summit is our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour -- Christiane.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is essentially the best we were told that we could expect, not an agreement between the two leaders, not something that they have signed, nor have they spoken publicly about what they seem to have agreed to, but a presidential statement from President Clinton saying what these two leaders have agreed to do, in conjunction with all the principles, who were basically pressuring them very hard to come to some kind of breakthrough out of violence of the last couple of weeks.
So, according to President Clinton, they have agreed, as you said, to issue an immediate public statement to end violence, to end the confrontation, to insure an end to the incitement, and both sides have agreed to return the situation to what it was before this erupted, which was on Sept. 28.
To that end he said that there will be a redeployment of forces. Israel will redeployed its forces, we assume, back to the positions of the September 28th, before the violence erupted, that there will be a restoration of law and order, and the Israelis would end the closure, the blockade, the siege of the Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank and Gaza, and they will re-open Gaza Airport. All of these areas have been closed since this violence began.
Also on the crucial issue of the fact-finding commission, well, the Palestinians, as you know, have all along been demanding an international commission of inquiry into the violence, into what they called Israel's excessive use of force.
It seems that they perhaps have finessed this issue, they are not calling it a commission of inquiry, they seem to be calling it a fact- finding committee that will look into this violence, we're told, and look into the events of the past two weeks, and bring efforts to make sure that this does not happen again, that it will be under the auspices of the United States president, Clinton, and also the U.N. secretary-general, Kofi Annan.
And according to the Palestinians, who we have talked to before, it would be President Clinton and Secretary-General Kofi Annan who would determine the additional members of this fact-finding commission. And it would basically present its report to the United States president, who would then afterwards make it public.
Third, President Clinton said that there must be a way to on reopen the peace process, that this is the ultimate objective, and that nobody should be under any illusion about how difficult that will be, how difficult a process it would be to reestablish trust and confidence, and to get the parties back into a negotiating mood, rather than a mood of confrontation on the ground. So this, after we were told earlier this morning from all sides that we've been talking to here, both the Israelis and the Palestinians that things did look a little more optimistic this morning after they had concluded last night, or in the early hours, with no dramatic or substantive program.
When they came back this morning, after further talks, they looked like they were going to be working towards ultimately coming out with a presidential statement. As I say, this is being characterized by both sides as essentially the best that could be expected. We understand that there were no face-to-face talks or negotiations or discussions on substantive issues between Arafat and Barak, but rather it was the United States who was doing the negotiating and shuttling back and forth between the two parties, and it is United States that has now come out with a statement that it says is binding on both sides -- Ralitsa.
VASSILEVA: And Christiane, certainly, the fact that we just had a presidential statement, which of course is binding to both sides, shows how difficult that challenges will be ahead in restoring trust and in actually stopping the violence on the ground. So many sentiments of hatred and resentment have been unleashed.
AMANPOUR: Well, yes, indeed. And in fact, President Mubarak, in his opening statement at this concluding session today, basically said and basically addressed the problems with convincing the people on the ground, not only in the Arab world, but also Israelis, who have been badly shaken by these last two weeks of violence.
He basically said, for his own people, that the outcome may not meet our peoples expectations, but that it could be the basis of re- building the process and reestablishing trust and confidence -- Ralitsa.
VASSILEVA: Christiane, thank you very much.
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