LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Militant Groups May Offer Middle East Cease-fire
Aired June 25, 2003 - 19:08 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We go now to the Middle East, where word of a three-month suspension of attacks against Israelis by Palestinian militants could be a long-awaited sign of progress toward peace in that very troubled part of the world.
Now, the effort to find peace has occupied and frustrated U.S. leaders for years. You all know that. So should people here get their hopes up? We begin tonight by going to our senior international correspondent, Sheila MacVicar, in Gaza City for more on what people there are saying and doing -- Sheila.
SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, unfortunately the news from here is not as good as one might have hoped.
There has, of course, been talk of days of intensive negotiations amongst Palestinian militant factions with the help of the Egyptians. We heard earlier today from senior members of the Palestinian authority closer to Yasser Arafat that they had a document which had not yet been signed which they said recommended an agreement in principle amongst those militant factions to agree to a three-month cease-fire, cessation of all violence in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
But Anderson, there was another event today, another Israeli air attack, which seems to have put more questions into the minds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders, people here in Gaza who have not reached a final decision.
MACVICAR (voice-over): The car carrying the Hamas militant was on a village street when the Israelis fired their missiles. The Hamas member was seriously wounded and two Palestinian civilians in another car were killed. At least 11 others were wounded.
The Israelis say the Hamas member was delivering an order.
Abdel Aziz Rantissi, a senior Hamas spokesman, survived an Israeli assassination attempt two weeks ago. Today's operation, he said, demonstrates the Israelis do not want a cease-fire and do not want peace.
ABDEL AZIZ RANTISSI, HAMAS LEADER: This military operation from the side of the Israelis says to the world that they are just speaking about peace and all the time looking for escalation and bloodshed. MACVICAR: In just over two weeks since the promise of the Aqaba summit, there has been bloodshed on both sides. President Bush, the key broker of peace here, made clear on Wednesday that a cease-fire alone would not be enough.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's one thing to make a verbal agreement, but in order for there to be peace in the Middle East, we must see organizations such as Hamas dismantled.
MACVICAR: That is what the Israelis say, too.
BA'ANAN GISSIN, SENIOR ARIEL SHARON ADVISER: The terrorist infrastructure must be dismantled, and illegal weapons must collected and incitement must stop immediately.
MACVICAR: The Palestinians say that they believe that a cease- fire, if it can be achieved, is their best chance, even if it is only temporary truce. But tonight it seems that the prospects for that cease-fire, the prospects for the progress on the road map to peace seem pretty dim indeed -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Sheila MacVicar live in Gaza City. We're going to continue following this story very closely throughout the evening. Sheila, thank you.
President Bush expressed some skepticism at the announcement of a truce, saying he'll, quote, "believe it when he sees it." He says that Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups are, quote, "determined enemies of peace" who commit, quote, "murders in the guise of martyrdom."
The president says for a true foundation of peace to be built in the Middle East, those groups are going to have to be torn down.
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BUSH: It's one thing to make a verbal agreement, but in order for there to be peace in the Middle East, we must see organizations such as Hamas dismantled, and then we'll have a chance for peace.
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