Caught in the Middle of a 'Day of Rage'
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now you are going into the middle of dangerous violence in Jerusalem, clashes today between Israeli security forces and stone- throwing Palestinians. The conflict happened after Hamas declared a "day of rage" over rumors that Israelis would try to harm Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. Israel imposed a security clampdown, and things got ugly.
Our FOX colleague Mike Tobin and his crew were right in the middle of it.
MIKE TOBIN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: What you've got down the road here is a group of Palestinian stone-throwers. And here are the Israeli border police. And there's just a hail of rocks coming in right now. And you can see they've got their shields. They very effectively block these stones as they come in.
A whole crowd of kids. All of this is related to the troubles at the al Aqsa mosque and the Muslim holy site. They were disallowed from praying there today.
You all right, bud?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TOBIN: All right. What you just saw there was a result of my cameraman, Richard (ph), getting hit. A lot of rocks are coming in this direction. This situation is getting ready to flash.
Here we go. All right, flash finally flared to the point where the police got their orders to go after the young Palestinian stone-throwers. You can see what they've done right now, stun grenades, and they're rushing them, all their riot gear at the ready.
VAN SUSTEREN: FOX's national security correspondent, Jennifer Griffin, joins us live. She lived in Israel for eight years and actually - - not just lived there, you worked there for us there.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's going on?
GRIFFIN: Well, I'll tell you, it's very reminiscent of the days that I remember at the beginning, when I was living there at the beginning of the second intifada, and that was in 2000. You remember when Ariel Sharon went up to the Temple Mount. That's the al Aqsa compound that's so sacred to Muslims and Jews both.
It's a tinderbox. It's a place that whenever the Israelis and the Palestinians start getting pushed by the outsiders -- like right now, you have George Mitchell there in the Middle East trying to broker a deal. Whenever both sides get pushed, it all comes down to the Temple Mount and the al Aqsa compound. And so you're seeing this tension rise. You've seen some provocations on both sides in the last week. And it's no coincidence that George Mitchell is there trying to broker this all-out peace deal that President Obama has set as a goal.
VAN SUSTEREN: But how -- how in the world is everyone even going to come back to the table for a peace deal? For one thing, is that the Palestinians said the settlements must stop.
VAN SUSTEREN: And the Israelis say that, you know, they're going to have natural growth. Well, right there, that's a deal breaker.
GRIFFIN: Right. And the problem is that the Obama administration went in trying to start negotiations with no conditions on the table. And then in the very beginning, they put their -- they stepped in and said, well, actually, they're going to pressure Israel to stop settlements, stop settlement growth. Then they went back on that decision when they met in September at the U.N.
And so this -- what's already happening is you're seeing poor George Mitchell, the U.S. envoy, being pulled between the two sides. And then you see this violence start getting stoked by extremists on -- you know, right now, these were Palestinian riots today. They were angry because the Israelis had stopped the Palestinians from going to pray at the al Aqsa compound on Friday because they felt there were going to be riots. They found rocks there, stones at the compound that could have been thrown down on Jewish worshipers. It all started to unravel.
But we've seen this play out before, and it often happens when you send envoys there and you don't have a clear direction of where the talks are going.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does the Palestinian president have power?
GRIFFIN: That's a good question. And I think one of the reasons you're seeing him go along with the more angry part of his coalition, the Fatah movement, is that he's losing power. He's losing prestige and he has to pander to the more angry elements. And so what you're seeing is Mahmoud Abbas is less and less popular. Hamas is more and more popular. Abbas has to do things to pander to those angry young males who were kept from praying at the al Aqsa compound today, and that's when -- you know, he went along and called for a "day of rage" today, hoping that that would maybe help let off steam. But we saw Arafat do this, too, and what happens is the extremists take over, the violence erupts, and then Israel clamps down, and you don't get anywhere closer to any talks.
VAN SUSTEREN: So where do we stand now? We've got this tension building. We've seen the rock-throwing. Is it -- are we going to see Israel now clamp down a little bit more and that's just going to amp this thing up?
GRIFFIN: Probably. But remember, the difference in this period of time versus eight, nine years ago is that there is this huge wall and barrier that's been built. So you're not going to see Palestinian suicide bombers coming into the cities, like when I was living there, you would see as part of this explosion of violence. There will probably be rock throwing. There will probably be clashes. But you also have to remember in this period what's going on in the larger region. And look at what is happening with Iran. I mean, you can't...
VAN SUSTEREN: You should see the quote that I have today, something that -- from Iran, some horrible quote, I don't know where it is, but about what Iran wants -- you know...
GRIFFIN: They're threatening that if Israel takes any action or the U.S. takes any action against their nuclear program using -- bombing their nuclear program, that they have bombs that could hit -- hit Israel and they threaten to wipe Israel off the map again. And this is a common theme. But you can't rule out the fact that Iran also wants to take pressure off itself right now and is using Palestinians as proxies to ramp up the heat and the violence in this little cauldron so that the Israelis are distracted maybe momentarily. And so that's what happens when -- all of these pieces have to be seen in context, and Iran is certainly a player in this.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jennifer, thank you. Nice to see you, as always.
GRIFFIN: Thank you.
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