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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Israeli Reaction to Cease-Fire Deal

Aired June 25, 2003 - 12:31   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're standing by for the White House press briefing. Ari Fleischer briefing reporters. We're going to go there, see what the White House reaction is to this tentative cease- fire, this cease-fire that supposedly is going to be formally announced later today in Cairo. We'll see if that does in fact get announced, if there's a cease-fire involving these three Palestinian group, including Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank.
But let's get Israeli reaction, now. The Israeli ambassador to the United Nations is joining us on the phone. Ambassador, can you hear me OK?

DAN GILLERMAN, ISRAELI AMB. TO U.N.: Yes, I can hear you fine. Good morning, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much for joining us. Tell us, sir, what you know. Has there been a truce reached involving Hamas and the other Palestinian groups?

GILLERMAN: Well it seems as if we are very near to a cease-fire. Although I'm sure everybody understands that the cease-fire can only be an interim step towards total eradication of terror and total stop to it. I mean the word cease-fire sounds good, but it's really not what we need after this terrible bloodshed we've had over the last nearly three years. And therefore, we welcome any cease-fire, but that cannot be a substitute for a total war against terror.

BLITZER: Ambassador, I want you to be patient with me for a second. The White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is talking about this issue right now. Let's listen in briefly and then we'll get some more from you. Hold on.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: ... and the president raised this in the Oval Office with the leaders of the European Union and he called on all member nations of the European Union to do everything in their power to cut off funding specifically for Hamas, the president said.

John?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) talking to the Senate, talking about intelligence, he said intelligence (OFF-MIKE) throughout the campaign. Very accurate on the tactical level, probably the best (OFF-MIKE) ever seen on the operational level. And perpetually incomplete on the strategic level with regard to weapons of mass destruction. Would you agree with that and what does it mean?

FLEISCHER: I haven't seen the statements, it's the first I've heard of it. So let me study it and see if there's anything I can offer.

QUESTION: Does the White House regard the...

BLITZER: All right, we're going to go back to the White House briefing, monitor it. Ari Fleischer giving some initial reaction saying they're waiting for the word, the official word if the cease- fire involving Hamas actually takes place.

Still on the phone with us is the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman. Mr. Ambassador, when you say that they're very, very close, I assume it will be announced, presumably it will be announced. What does the Israeli government do next? Do you start pulling out from certain areas of northern Gaza and Bethlehem?

GILLERMAN: Well the Israeli government is committed to fulfilling obligations its under the road map and will do so the minute it is clear that the Palestinian Authority has indeed cracked down on terror. We will have to study this very, very carefully and make sure it's not a matter of allowing Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the others just to regroup so that in three week's time or six week's time they can relaunch the attacks against Israel.

But if the Palestinian Authority and the new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is indeed serious, and this is just a first step towards total stop to terrorism, I assure you that Israel will pull out, will undertake every obligation it has under the road map and will hand in hand, with a very determined and courageous American president, I'm sure that the very committed and brave Israeli prime minister, if they feel that they've found a partner in Mahmoud Abbas and truly is a newly changed, empowered Palestinian prime minister who's decided to act against terrorism, you will find Israel complying with the road map to the fullest and doing everything that is asked from it and it's expected to do in order to also show the Palestinian people that they've made the right choice, and that this is the only way.

BLITZER: One final question, Mr. Ambassador. What does this agreement, assuming it will be announced in Cairo later today, do to the Israeli policy of what you call "targeted Killings," the assassinations of suspected terrorists? The whole issue of ticking bomb terrorists, if you will.

GILLERMAN: Well, I think that everybody, any sane person, any freedom-loving nation realizes that if Israel knows about a very specific terrorist or terror group who are on their way to commit suicide attacks and murder Israelis, they'll do whatever is necessary to stop them.

We must understand that this cease-fire is only a first step. It will be a positive step only if it really materializes in total eradication of terror. And therefore, the terrorist organizations will have to be dismantled, they will have to be the stopping of any terroristic activity on the part of the Palestinians, their weapons have to be collected. All these things have to be done by the Palestinians.

So far, there has been nothing done by the new Palestinian Authority. I hope that they will use the time during the cease-fire in order to dismantle those organizations and make sure that after this cease-fire is over, there will be no possibility for them to resume the murderous, evil and brutal war which they've waged against Israel and the citizens.

BLITZER: Ambassador Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, thanks for spending a few moments with us. We'll continue to monitor this story, see if this announcement, this tentative three-month truce , cease-fire involving Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade if in fact it gets off the ground. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador.

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