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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

U.S. Warns Americans Against Mideast Travel

Aired August 11, 2001 - 09:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're beginning right now in the Middle East, which is so volatile right now that the U.S. State Department renewed its warning against travel to Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. The warning comes as Jerusalem becomes the flash point in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Today, Palestinians are protesting Israel's takeover of the Orient House in East Jerusalem. It's the PLO's headquarters and a focal point in Palestinian hopes for statehood.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Jerusalem, and he has the latest.

Hi, Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.

Yes, for the second day running, the Orient House, or rather the area right outside of it in Arab East Jerusalem, was the scene of scuffles between Palestinian demonstrators protesting the closure by Israel early Friday morning of the Orient House, and Israeli security forces. Those scuffles went on for quite a while. There was rock throwing, pushing, shoving, shouting. The scuffles -- or rather, the demonstrators were joined by Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent Palestinian personality.

According to Israeli security forces, the police, approximately 12 Palestinian demonstrators, rather, demonstrators, were arrested, among those demonstrators some foreign or rather non-Palestinian supporters of the Palestinian call for a reopening of the Orient House.

Now, one Israeli policeman was injured when a Palestinian smashed his head against a car. We were out there, those clashes went on for quite a while. And during the demonstrations, Mrs. Ashrawi said the following in protest over the closure of Orient House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANAN ASHRAWI: We're here because we want to go to the Orient House. We're here because this is our city. It's an occupied city, I know, they have arms, they have weapons, they have police, they have mortar guns. But it is Palestinian the occupation, and we want to go, go freely, and go to the Orient House, which has been occupied by the Israeli army is unacceptable. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WEDEMAN: And of course Israel at the moment has not expressed any willingness to reopen the Orient House, so the standoff continues -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Ben, you, of course, have been covering this for quite a long time. I have to ask you, what's your feeling, with all of this renewed violence, about the peace process, and where -- what -- where that stands?

WEDEMAN: Well, it -- this has been going on now for 10 months, and we've seen the tension and the fighting, the violence fluctuate. Certainly the last few weeks, it really has been on the rise, and it would appear that people here are really set preparing for a long-run conflict. There doesn't seem to be any end in sight. Every step forward is followed by several steps back, an explosion of the sort that happened here in Jerusalem on Thursday sets it back, sets the situation back even further.

So certainly there really isn't much optimism here on the ground -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Ben Wedeman, live in Jerusalem, thank you.

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