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Opposition Activists In Homs Say Reconciliation Is Long Way Off; A Look Inside Boko Haram; Abu Dhabi's Sustainability Project; Death Toll Rising In Balkans During Historic Floods; Saudi Arabia Closes Embassy In Tripoli

Aired May 19, 2014 - 11:00   ET


JIM CLANCY, HOST: Rising rivers and a rising death toll in the Balkans: with historic rains mostly over, rivers though still overflowing. We're going to bring you the latest from the ground.

Also ahead...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the only way that our children will have a future.


CLANCY: A rare glimpse at the inner workings of Boko Haram. CNN's exclusive interview with two men who work as informants inside that militant group.

And, are Russian troops near Ukraine's border really on the move? And which way are they going?

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.

CLANCY: Hello, and welcome to Connect the World. I'm Jim Clancy standing in for Becky Anderson this day.

Historic flooding in the Balkans is pushing already swollen rivers to their limits threatening to bring more misery to residents across Serbia, Croatia, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The intense rain has subsided now, but the flooding, well, that could last another week. Rescue crews say more than two dozen people have lost their lives and tens of thousands of others have been forced from their homes. Now there is concern the flooding and landslides could dislodge unexploded landmines that were planted during the Bosnian war.

All right, we're working to bring you a live shot from the region in just a matter of minutes. Meantime, at least four people have been killed in Nigeria. It's another bomb attack. It happened in the northern city of Kano, a mixed Christian-Muslim city. It happened at a busy intersection in a mostly Christian part of the city.

Police, of course, still investigating. There is no word yet on who has claimed responsibility for the attack, but inevitably blame is going to move toward Boko Haram. That's the Islamist militant group that has claimed responsibility for abducting hundreds of schoolgirls and other bombings across northern -- mostly -- Nigeria.

Our Vladimir Duthiers has been talking with the sister of one of those girls. He joins us now live from Abuja -- Vladimir.


Yeah, we've been speaking to family members pretty much ever since this story first broke. But yesterday we had a conversation with a young girl whose sister is in that despicable video that was released by Boko Haram. Supposedly the leader Abubakar Shekau claiming that he's going to sell these girls. He says that it is the will of Allah. And then you see these young children dressed in Islamic garb paraded for the cameras.

We spoke to this sister who saw her little sister in this video. Take a listen to what she had to tell us, Jim.


DUTHIERS: Is this your sister here?


DUTHIERS: That's her.

She looks scared?


DUTHIERS: When you heard about what happened on April 14 that your sister was kidnapped, what did you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not happy. We have been crying every day. We have not seen anybody, we are just crying. When it happened, I thought to myself that god should just take my life.

DUTHIERS: You wished that god would take your life when you heard the news. You still feel like that?


DUTHIERS: What did you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was thinking about them and about how they are doing.

DUTHIERS: You miss her, right? You miss your sister?


DUTHIERS: Jim, one of the toughest interviews I've had to do on this story. On one hand, you can see that we've had to conceal this young girl's identity because she and her family and others in the village of Chibok are deathly afraid of the threat of Boko Haram and for what might happen to her sister.

On the other hand, she told me that when her sister will come home, and she believes that her sister will come home, that she will go back to school. She wants to be a computer scientist, Jim, real grace under pressure, courage under fire from these children -- Jim.

CLANCY: You know, I can perfectly understand, and I'm sure the audience can, too, that it's just simply difficult to speak with someone who suffered that kind of loss, that kind of an emotional impact. Really appreciate your sensitivity in covering that story and we'll be checking back in with you in a little bit.

Vladimir Duthiers reporting live from Abuja.

Well, CNN is bringing you some of the most comprehensive coverage of this very troubling story. And we intend to keep it up.

There's much more to come this hour. Arwa Damon has been granted exclusive access to what we are told are the inner workings of Boko Haram from informants who were embedded with that terrorist group. And we're going to speak to an analyst about the threat of Boko Haram and how that threat could pose a risk to Nigeria's economic stability and growth, that's all coming up in about five minutes from now.

Now let's got to N1 reports Sandra Kritzanec (ph) for the latest on the flooding in Bosnia and other parts of the Balkans. She joins us on the line. Right now she's in Gunja, Croatia.

Sandra, what can we -- you tell us about the situation facing residents there?

SANDRA KRITZANEC (ph), N1 CORRESPONDENT: For viewers of CNN, it's best to say the flooded area Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, it's 20,000 kilometers (sic) wide. It's roughly the size of the state of Israel, situation in a few words, no raining, rising temperatures, dead livestock fear of possible spread of disease.

I'm not in Gunja eastern Croatia at the Serbia, Bosnia border. And here it's still very dangerous.

In Bosnia, the situation is much more difficult. Numbers speak for themselves. The death toll is yet unknown. For now, it's confirmed 17 dead. (inaudible) people are still threatened by floods.

And in Serbia, the death toll rises. Now official 19 people lost their lives, but it is expected to be more victims.

Now the most difficult is in the area of Shabot (ph). So far, 25,000 people were evacuated.

CLANCY: All right.

We want to thank Sandra Kritzanec (ph) for joining us on the line and giving us the latest from the ground, an update there just across the entire region how the Sava River flooding there is really affecting so many people, not only costing lives but costing property and more importantly driving people from their homes.

The rain is let up, but the affects of the flooding far from over.

A lot of tragedy, a lot of sorrow.

All right, turning now to really to Libya. The news comes out of Saudi Arabia, though. The press agency telling us that Saudi Arabia is closing its embassy in Tripoli, pulling its diplomatic staff out of the Libya.

This is an important move. It could signal wider problems for Libya ahead. It comes a day after anti-Islamic fighters stormed parliament and killed at least two people. A short time later, then, fierce fighting swept across the Libyan capital.

Sunday's violence some of the worst seen since the 2011 revolution that ousted long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi.

I want to turn now to Jomana Karadsheh. She's in Tripoli. And try to get a sense of the very latest. If I can ask you, Jomana, tell us why this matters, this violence, what is its impact not only inside Libya, but outside?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jim. This is a very dangerous time here in Libya as we hear officials saying the country is really at probably the most dangerous crossroads since the revolution. What we're seeing here is unrest striking to not only in Tripoli. We've seen violence in the past, but it's also happening around the same time in the eastern city of Benghazi on Friday.

What happened there was a retired general led a force of fighters and they went in and they attacked Islamist militia bases in Benghazi.

This really happens after two years of a security situation in Benghazi that's really been deteriorating. Foreigners, diplomats and also Libyans being targeted. There's been a relentless campaign there of kidnappings, assassinations and bombings that mainly targeted members of the security forces and many Libyans and officials believe that it's Islamist extremist groups that are behind these attacks. And they say their government is doing nothing.

Now Jim, if we look at what's been going in Tripoli, it's the capital, it's the center of power in this country. And it's always been a flashpoint for rival militias. And the power struggle and the political tensions have really been simmering for months within parliament, but also between the rival militias that support these political blocs. And this eruption of violence that we saw yesterday has been averted several times, you know, over recent months.

But that outburst yesterday really has people worried that could unleash more violence and could lead to an all-out civil conflict.

Now whether both the events in Benghazi and Tripoli are linked, or coordinated is very vague at this point. But both groups seem to have a common enemy, Jim, that's the Islamist forces in the country and the militants that back them. And they believe that they are hijacking power here.

CLANCY: All right, we're looking at a very splintered Libya right now with a multitude of these militia groups, well armed militia groups, tell us a little bit more about this General Haftar (ph) -- I mean, is this retire army coming back saying we need to get the Libyan army back in control of this entire country, because we know we would get a lot of support from Libyans? What is this guy actually saying?

KARADSHEH: Well, Jim, he was a senior commander under Gadhafi. He defected in the late 1980s, spent 20 years in the United States in exile. He came back and he was a prominent rebel commander during the revolution against Gadhafi.

Now he has reemerged here on the scene in February. He came out with a call to overthrow those in power, give the military more power to go after you know militias and Islamist extremist groups, but people didn't really take him seriously. He was really ignored for the most part.

But what we've seen, Jim, over recent months he's been touring different cities in eastern Libya. He's been trying to gain support for what he says is his war against Islamist extremist groups, an open-ended war that he declared with that assault on the bases of Islamist militias in Benghazi on Friday.

Now it's not clear how much support General Haftar (ph) has or how much influence he does have. Some feel he's really taking advantage of people here being fed up with the militias, the security situation. And he's trying to advance his own political ambitions here, because people want to see a police and army take over and provide them with what they need the most, and that is security, Jim.

CLANCY: Security, what's needed most in Libya today. It's not what it gets today, but as Jomana Karadsheh points out to us -- and she's got a lot of experience on the ground there -- when she points out to us this one man, this former general who is very much back on the scene says that he may want to be the one who installs that.

His political ambitions, well, that's something else we'll be watching.

Our thanks to Jomana Karadsheh for that great reporting.

Well, still to come right here tonight, another American testing positive for the deadly MERS virus in the U.S. Why health officials are so concerned with the way that he contracted the illness. Tell you about that.

Also, more promises from the Russian president to withdraw troops from that border area with Ukraine. We're going to get a live report from Moscow coming up straight ahead.


CLANCY: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Jim Clancy. Welcome back.

A deadly explosion in northern Nigeria, just the latest attack to fuel fears about the very scope of the terror group Boko Haram. The organization has not claimed responsibility for Sunday night's bombing in the town of Kano. It killed at least four people in a Christian area. But after last months' bus station attack in Abuja, and of course the kidnappings of hundreds of schoolgirls, suspicions about Boko Haram are heightened.

The group stated its aim is to eliminate western influence, to impose strict Shariah law. But little is really known about how its internal workings are. CNN's Arwa Damon got a glimpse inside the organization. She sat down exclusively with two government informants embedded within the terror group. Their voices have been altered to protect their identity. Listen.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We meet in a safe house. Just speaking to us could cost them their lives already at risk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the only way our children will have a future.

DAMON: Mohammed (ph) and Usama (ph), not these two men's real names, are government informants on the feared terrorist group Boko Haram.

They have seen the group's influence spread and lure in their friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After convincing you, they take you -- once you move to their training camp that is the end, you won't come back again.

DAMON: Recruiting from among the poor, who tend to make up their rank and file fighters, and drawing in the educated, trained in explosives.

(on camera): The two informants we met describe their links to Boko Haram as being to mid-level fighters. They're not from the same state where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped, that is here, Borno State. This is capital Maidooguri (ph), where Boko Haram's radical ideology was born.

(voice-over): Unchecked by the government, the group grew more violent and ruthless. Kidnappings becoming common.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They take them to the bush and then they force you to join -- or it's either you join or they kill you.

DAMON: The informants have heard of shadowy links to al Qaeda. Their friends who joined trained in Sudan and Somalia. They claim to know exactly where Boko Haram's camps are in their area, but for the most part, they say, the government has failed to act.

Similar to the accusations that Nigerian forces were warned in advance about the Chibok attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will use them to negotiate with the government about those of their members that have been detained by the government, or to use them as human shields.

DAMON: They've seen their friends slaughtered. And they know the group will show no mercy.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Maidooguri (ph), Nigeria.


CLANCY: Now one of the most popular articles on our entire website warns that the media may be creating what she calls superstar monsters. Ada Obitricia Nowabani (ph) is a Nigerian author who received a claim for her debut novel "I Do Not Come To You By Chance."

She argues that while media coverage is necessary, they're actually glamorizing Boko Haram.

Read what else she has to say and leave your own thoughts, only at

Let's turn our attention now to Syria where residents of the city of Homs, once the epicenter of the revolution, are now trying to bring back some semblance of routine into their lives.

A ceasefire between rebels and the government came into affect there, but as Fred Pleitgen tells us, some people are not ready to put aside their differences.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From above, a tragic and devastating view of the old town of Homs. More than two years of intense battles, a brutal siege and the use of heavy weapons have laid waste to a city with a history of more than 4,000 years.

As the people here begin to pick up the pieces, the Syrian government says now is the time for reconciliation between those who supported the rebels and the supporters of the government.

But we managed to speak to an opposition supporter, who refused to be identified, but says the rebel evacuation of Homs was a bitter defeat.

"Of course we're happy that there's a ceasefire," the person says. "But at the same time, we are devastated that we didn't achieve the victory to get rid of the regime."

The Khalid Ibn Wallid (ph) mosque used to be right on the front line. It was badly damaged during the fighting here.

Now, for the first time in about a year, prayers are held here.

As a show of reconciliation, the government invited leaders of the Christian community to attend as well.

But speaking to the opposition supporter, it's clear the rift between many Sunni Muslims, who mostly side with the rebels, and the Alawites and Christians who are mostly on the government side will take years to bridge.

"There's a major distrust now between us," the person says. "Maybe in 300 years or so we'll be able to live in peace together again. But for now, it's not possible."

While Homs lay in ruins, the government says the fighting here is now over. But that's only partially true.

This is what the city sounds like in the evening hours and at night, heavy explosions and gunfire coming from here.

This is Al Weir (ph) on the outskirts of Homs, the last place still held by the rebels. Syria's army says most of those fighting for the opposition are not Syrian, but the rebel supporter tells me that's not the case.

"Most of those fighting are our sons and brothers," the person says. "They're not foreigners. They are from our families. And we support them."

It seems most people in Homs are in favor of the truce between the rebels and the government, but it's also clear that the underlying issues that led to the conflict in this town have yet to be resolved.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Homs, Syria.


CLANCY: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.

And coming up, when you've got as much oil wealth as Abu Dhabi, going green might not seem like a priority, but in this week's Transformations we're going to see why the emirate is taking a long-term approach to its energy needs.


CLANCY: You're watching Connect the World. And we're live from CNN Center. I'm Jim Clancy. Welcome back everyone.

It is time to -- for us to take you to the Global Exchange where we introduce you to the people, the places, too, that paved the way forward in the world's emerging economies. On this week's addition of Transformations, the oil rich emirate of Abu Dhabi already considering becoming a center for sustainable energy. It is planning for when its natural assets begin to run dry.

But as Leone Lakhani reports, the drive isn't just about transforming infrastructure, it's about transforming the very mindset of future generations.


LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Play-time in this school in Abu Dhabi, boys and girls playing catch or simply milling about, but back in the classroom it's not just a standard curriculum, here it's teaching students about environmental awareness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So next week we are going to do this (inaudible).

LAKHANI: This is just one of more than 100 schools in Abu Dhabi that are part of a government plan to transform the community and promote a greener future one school at a time.

ANITA SAUL, ECO CLUB COORDINATOR: Every subject has something to do with environment. In English, they teach about renewable energy, in physics, in biology, in chemistry about acid rain and such things. So we integrate these experiential learning into the existing curriculum.

LAKHANI: The principle of the Sheihk Khalifa bin Zaid Islami (ph) school says it's his mission to preserve the Earth and teach students to do the same.

MIR ANISUL HASAN, PRINCIPAL: Being sustainable is one of the most important criteria of educations. If we can be sustainable, then I think we will try with reach education. Without sustainability, I think our existence may be in danger.

LAKHANI: Towards that sustainable end, the school uses solar power to provide 15 percent of its energy needs.

HASAN: You can see here 48 solar panels.

LAKHANI: In 2013, the school's eco friendly efforts won a design future energy prize in the name of the state's founding father who championed greener policies.

But it doesn't end there. Teachers are adamant that students get hands on experience.

This school is trying to teach sustainability in every aspect of life. And the girls and I are washing our hands here, but then this water will be filtered, recycled, and used to water the garden.

The garden is lush with vegetables, lemons and chilis, even honey is harvested here to supply the school's needs.

Any waste products are put to good use. These boys are making their own compost to fertilize the plant. The boys say activities like these bring them back to nature and help shape their future.

JUSHAN ABDULLAH, STUDENT: I want to work with the environment so that I can make the environment good for people.

LAKHANI: Those at the school's weekly eco club feel the same way.

AFREEN SARAH SHAHID, STUDENT: When I've been to this eco club, I learned of many things. I learned how to be sustainable about the environment, how to save it and how to do everything with how to contribute to the environment.

LAKHANI: And instilling green values for generations to come.

Leone Lakhani, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


CLANCY: And that's a transformation.

Well, the latest world news headlines are just ahead.

Plus, Russia once again says it's ordered its troops to leave the Ukrainian border area just days before a critical vote in neighboring Ukraine. What's it all about?


CLANCY: This is CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Jim Clancy in for Becky Anderson, and here are your top stories this hour.

Days of torrential rains have now subsided in the Balkan region, but the disaster far, far from over. Flooding in the region is set to last at least another week, and in some places, it could actually get worse before it gets any better. Some 25 people are confirmed dead in Serbian Bosnia- Herzegovina.

The Saudi press agency reports Saudi Arabia has closed its embassy in Tripoli, removing its diplomatic staff from Libya. CNN has just learned that the US has doubled the number of aircraft on standby in Italy to evacuate American personnel if violence inside Libya becomes worse. Sunday, anti-Islamist fighters attacked Libya's national General Congress. At least two people were killed in that exchange of fire.

US attorney general Eric Holder has announced the first-ever hacking charges against members of the Chinese military. A grand jury returned an indictment against Chinese military officials, accusing them of hacking into US businesses and entities.


ERIC HOLDER, US ATTORNEY GENERAL: Victim entities include Westinghouse Electric, Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies Incorporated, United States Steel, United Steel Workers Union, and SolarWorld.


CLANCY: Meantime, South Korea's president tearfully apologizing to her nation, saying she takes the responsibility for the government's handling of last month's ferry accident. More than 300 people, many of them schoolchildren, were killed or remain missing. President Park Geun- hye has dismantled the coast guard for failing to save more of the passengers. It will be replaced by a new agency.

Now, we've heard this before, but a spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin is telling CNN Russian forces that are alongside the border with Ukraine have now been ordered to return to their bases. He says routine military exercises there have ended, but the withdrawal could take some time.

The head of NATO says he has seen no evidence that the estimated 40,000 Russian troops situated along the Ukrainian border are being redistributed or moved out. Now, for more on this, let's cross over to CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance. He joins us live from Moscow. Matthew, what are we to make of this?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very difficult to say, as you mentioned before. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has said on two previous occasions, so three occasions including this one, that he's ordered these Russian troops stationed along the border in western Russia with Ukraine back to their barracks.

That last statement coming just today. His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, confirming it to us, saying that the springtime military exercises that had been longtime in the planning, a long time in the planning, had now come to an end. And because of that, these troops are being deployed back to their barracks.

If it's true, of course, Jim, it could mark an important step towards the de-escalation of the tension and of the crisis in Ukraine. But as you mentioned, deep skepticism greeting this announcement, this time from the Russian president. NATO, the Western military alliance, already saying it's seen no substantial troop movements.

The White House in Washington saying that it hasn't seen any movements, either, going on to describe Russian actions in eastern Ukraine as "menacing." So, as I say, deep skepticism, but watch this space. If it's true, could be a major de-escalation.

CLANCY: All right. As we watch that space, what else is happening in terms of diplomacy, in terms of attitudes relative to Russia and Ukraine? Have we seen any kind of a reach-out by the Russians to calm things down?

CHANCE: I think what we've seen over the course of the past week or so is a general softening of the stance of Moscow towards the crisis in eastern Ukraine. And I think these latest comments ordering the troops back at the very least could be interpreted as part of that. They're given tentative support, remember, after the presidential election, which is to take place on Sunday as the right step forward.

Also, there's been some contacts you may be aware of in eastern Ukraine and elsewhere between the authorities in Kiev and pro-Russian groups. Those contacts have been welcomed by the Kremlin over the course of today as well, saying that's an important step forward, and they could be a "potentially important moment," I think were the words that the spokesperson of the Kremlin said to me, describing these meetings that have taken place in eastern Ukraine.

And so, yes, a softening of the stance towards the Kremlin, but it still holds out the possibility, of course, enshrined in Russian law, that Russia has the right, according to its laws, to intervene anywhere in Ukraine if the security situation deteriorates to that extent, Jim.

CLANCY: All right. And pointing out there, it's not just the attitude in Moscow, it's the attitude in Kiev as well, and perhaps if both sides are softening their stand, that's an encouraging note. All right, our thanks to Matthew Chance, there, for the latest coming out of Moscow.

Let's turn to the Middle East, where Palestinian leaders say they are moving ahead with their controversial plan by rival political parties, Fatah in the West Bank, Hamas in Gaza, to try to form a unity government.

Now, the unity deal was mediated by an independent Palestinian politician, Mustafa Barghouti. We sat down with him to talk about the deal and what lies ahead, more negotiations with Israel, or directly seeing international recognition in the world community? We began by asking what really did the unity deal accomplish?


MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN LEGISLATOR: It accomplished a lot. First of all, it, I think, brings us closer to the possibility of real peace, because any future agreement would include all Palestinians and not only part of them.

Second, this agreement is about bringing what we have lost, our democracy. It brings back to life a Palestinian parliament. It brings back to life the principle of separation of powers, the right of people to choose their leaders freely and democratically.

All these are very important things, if we think about the future, especially that I don't think any lasting peace could happen without it being concluded between democracies.

CLANCY: Many people have said that, but at the same time, there was talk that Hamas was going to modify its stand, it would recognize the right of Israel to exist. It hasn't done that at all.

BARGHOUTI: No party in Israel has recognized yet the right of the Palestinians to have a state. As a matter of fact, even the Israeli state did not recognize Palestinians' right for statehood --

CLANCY: But that changes the subject.

BARGHOUTI: Yes, but Palestinian --


CLANCY: The question is specifically about Hamas. Because Hamas as a tactic lobs missiles into civilian areas in Israel. The US has designated it as a terror group. And as a result of that, you could see funding cut, support cut. It could hurt the Palestinians, couldn't it?

BARGHOUTI: No, it shouldn't happen this way.

CLANCY: Maybe it shouldn't, but it will, won't it?

BARGHOUTI: I don't think so. Because even all these threats about cutting aid are now being reconsidered, because everybody knows the reality. Mr. Netanyahu has been saying that he cannot make peace with Palestinians because nobody can represent them all because they are divided.

Now that we are unified, he's saying he cannot make peace with us because we are unified. I think he's seeking a way of distracting the attention from the fact that Israel does not want yet peace because it prefers settlements to peace. It prefers a system of apartheid to peace with all Palestinians.

On another note, he says that we committed the sin of negotiating with Hamas so that they are included in the system, incorporated in the system. But he himself, Mr. Netanyahu, negotiated with Hamas. He negotiated with them twice, once when he negotiated with them, the deal of exchange of prisoners, Shalit deal, and the second time when he negotiated with them a cease-fire, which is still here.

Nobody's shooting rockets at Israel. But unfortunately, the Israeli army is killing our young student boys when they are demonstrating peacefully and non-violently, like has happened in Nakba Day. What is the value of having any structure if people are not free?

CLANCY: Palestinians certainly need that, but we can't ignore the reality on the ground, you said it yourself, you face an occupation. What do you do? Do you pursue international organizations, international legitimacy through the United Nations and elsewhere, or do you pursue another round of peace talks?

BARGHOUTI: I think we've tried peace talks for a very long time, 21 years. That's a very long time. And the last peace talks failed, in my opinion, because they did not respect two pre -- necessary preconditions.

One is that Israel should have first stopped all settlement activities that are killing the opportunity of two-state solution. And second, we should have had clear terms of reference. Mr. Kerry was dragged into a vicious cycle because of the stubborn Israeli extreme government.

Today, we need a different approach. And I don't think peace talks can produce a result unless we change the balance of power.

CLANCY: But --

BARGHOUTI: I believe we can do that through non-violent resistance -- and I insist, non-violent resistance -- through our unity and through the very huge international campaign, boycott the Western sanctions that is growing all over the world.

And it's not a campaign against Israeli or Jewish people. It's a campaign against occupation. Israel has to decide. Unless they agree to have a two-state solution immediately, they will end up consolidating only a system of apartheid at a time when it is so shameful to have a system of apartheid in the 21st century.


CLANCY: Mustafa Barghouti, an independent politician there among the Palestinians. Let's get reaction to what he had to say there from the Israeli side. A spokeswoman from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ilana Stein, joins us now from Jerusalem.

Ilana, your overall impressions there? The Palestinians -- at least Mustafa Barghouti is saying I think negotiations, we've tried it for more than 20 years, it's over.

ILANA STEIN, DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN, ISRAELI MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Well, if you want to reach a peace agreement, that is the only way. Unfortunately, there is no other way. You have to sit down. You will have to work hard at the issues. And that's you resolve them. There are no other ways, and this is what we have to do.

This deals with compromise. You need to compromise, and this is something, unfortunately, the Palestinians find very difficult to do. We have compromised. We've just recently, our prime minister, has released convicted terrorists in order to prove and to show how serious we are about these negotiations.

That is very difficult to do. We had to look the face of people who lost their family members in terrorist attacks, and they saw these people released, these terrorists released back into the streets. And he did this because he does prove his point with actions, and that is how we want to resolve these issues, by negotiations.

CLANCY: Well, that certainly was -- and we all watched that -- it certainly was difficult for the prime minister to do that, but at the same time, that was more or less the price he paid to have these negotiations at all. The Palestinians are saying what he didn't do is he didn't stop settlements.

And we've heard it over and over again. Israel loves its settlements more than it loves negotiations or any deal with the Palestinians. It just -- it's become an enterprise. An almost billion-dollar-a-year enterprise.

STEIN: Well, I could agree with you if we haven't tried that route as well. In 2010, we froze the settlements for a few months. And imagine what happened?


CLANCY: No, but you know the reality.

STEIN: Nothing happened, unfortunately.

CLANCY: Since the -- and I don't mean to interrupt, but we've got to talk to the reality, and that is since they started negotiating after Oslo -- what? -- you doubled the number of settlers in the West Bank. East Jerusalem is more isolated from the Palestinians than ever before. And they feel that that is their Jerusalem, that's the part that they want to make their capital.

How do we get around this? Because they -- according to Mustafa Barghouti -- what's going to go ahead is seeking more international legitimacy, seeking to unify the Palestinian people in front of the world. And if Israel won't recognize them, get the world to recognize them.

STEIN: Abbas chose Hamas over peace. In order to reach a peace agreement, you have to sit down and talk about the issues. Definitely the settlements are part of the issue. But we have other issues. We have our security issues. We have, as you said, Jerusalem. We have the refugees issues.

So, all of this has to come to the table, and we have to discuss it all. And this is what we are doing, this is what we've tried to do, Secretary of State Kerry, and that was the route that we were on.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian maneuvers sunk this process, and it's going to be very hard to revive it, but we want to, and we are willing to make the compromises that are needed in our future, included compromises on all the issues that we've just mentioned.

CLANCY: Throughout the last round of talks, the last -- what? -- five months or so, from the start people said this is all going to be all about who gets the blame in the end, and I must say, when you look at it, it is Israel that has taken the blame.

Kerry seems to have -- he used the word "apartheid," and because of pressure, he backed off of that. People have been very disappointed with the settlement building that is going on. Has it left Israel in a difficult circumstance, the boycott campaign, US officials, whether it's Martin Indyk or John Kerry, their comments about Israel's role in the failure?

STEIN: Listen, as a diplomat, I cannot go into all the private details that were in these negotiations. But you can see by our actions that we have made it clear and crystal clear that we want to resolve our issues. And that's why Kerry put so much of his time and effort into these negotiations.

But unfortunately, the Palestinians, by choosing terror, they choose terror over peace, and that is something that has to be resolved somehow in order for us to sit down again and talk about all the different issues and not discuss about who is to blame. This is not something that is taking us forward, and we want to move forward and not just talk about who did what in the past.

CLANCY: All right, Ilana Stein, I'm going to have to leave it there, but it's pretty obvious in talking to both the Palestinians and the Israelis here, so far, nobody is really going anywhere, when it comes to more negotiations, at least right now. We'll see if that changes. Thank you, Ilana.

Well, live from CNN Center, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, and up next, a deadly respiratory virus is on the move in the US. Find out where health officials have found the latest case.


CLANCY: You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from CNN Center. Welcome back everyone, I'm Jim Clancy, I'm in for Becky Anderson this day.

US health authorities are telling us they've confirmed the first transmission of the deadly MERS virus within this country, within the United States. A man in the central part of the nation in the state of Illinois became infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome soon after coming in contact with -- get this -- another man who had visited Saudi Arabia.

Now, that's important, because until now, most of the cases have been concentrated in Saudi Arabia or in the UAE. Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now to talk a little bit more about this. And it came to me as a shock, because I thought you could only get it if you were in contact with livestock.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, you can definitely get this -- we've known for a while that you can get this person-to-person. But it's usually been with close family contacts or with a health care worker, a doctor getting it from a patient.

And I think what's concerning some people here is not just that, it's spread person-to-person in the United States, I think in many ways, that was expected. It's how it spread.


COHEN (voice-over): The first two cases in the United States were people who got infected in Saudi Arabia and then got on a plane and came here. Those cases were reported in Indiana and Florida. Now, health officials say an Illinois man who had a business meeting with the Indiana patient has also tested positive for MERS.

LAMAR HASBROUCK, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: This potential person that is maybe the third case that was transmitted had just basically business transactions with this individual. So, no unique travel history of their own, and no travel history since.

COHEN: The CDC says during a meeting on April 25th, the two men were sitting within six feet of each other talking. The only physical contact they had was shaking hands. The next day, they had another meeting, this one shorter. This was a week before the Indiana patient was confirmed to have MERS.

A CDC doctors says the Illinois man was never really sick, but now the CDC wants to test people he came in contact with, because even without symptoms, it's possible he could have spread the deadly MERS virus.


COHEN: So, health officials have been using terms like "close, prolonged contact" to explain how MERS is spread, and I think a lot of people would question, a business meeting, is that really close and prolonged contact? So, it may end up being that MERS spreads, perhaps, more easily than people might have thought.

But it's important to remember, this Illinois man, he never really got sick. So it also may be that MERS maybe isn't quite as deadly as we've been thinking that it is.

CLANCY: Yes, I guess you'd have to ask, well then how -- who is at risk in all of this? Is it casual -- can it be casual contact?

COHEN: This is what happens when you have a new virus is that people like me and experts have to say we don't really know. We don't really know. But it seems that there needs to be some relatively sustained contact. So far, experts don't talk about it in terms of just passing someone in a hallway. That doesn't seem to be what does it.

But before, they were talking about living with people or a doctor tending to a patient. Now, it's someone who was in a business meeting. It certainly takes it to a different level.

CLANCY: Yes, it's a little higher than it was last week.

COHEN: Right.

CLANCY: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, great to have you with us to explain it.

COHEN: Thank you, good to be here.

CLANCY: We're going to continue to track this. It's got -- a lot of people are fascinated, not only in the Middle East, but around the world. New virus, like you say --

COHEN: That's right.

CLANCY: -- and people want to know, where's it headed? Thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

CLANCY: All right, coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, a new boss in charge at Manchester United. Can he be the man to help bring the team back to its winning ways?


CLANCY: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Jim Clancy. Right now, all across the US and many other places, too, it's time for college graduation. Hardly any graduate may be more inspiring than this one.




CLANCY: Eric LeGrand received a standing ovation, as you see right there. Cheers coming from his fellow graduates. The Rutgers football player was paralyzed as he was playing a game -- that was back in 2010.

He did not let his injuries, devastating as they were, keep him from getting his degree in labor relations. He was also one of the commencement speakers, telling his fellow grads that he's living proof that anything is truly possible in this world.

All right. Well, the English football club Manchester United appointed Dutchman Louis van Gaal as their new manager. He signed a three- year deal with the club, and he hopes to help United recover from, well, I don't have to say it too loudly. Last season, shall we say, dismal performance?

But his first priority is the World Cup, where he's in charge of the Dutch national team. Alex Thomas has this look at the man and his reputation.


ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Depending on who you ask, Louis van Gaal is either a dictatorial egomaniac or an innovative man manager. Either way, there's no question he's one of the most successful coaches of his generation.

Only average as a player, van Gaal was far better as a manager, winning the Dutch Eredivisie title three times with Ajax, and he also guided the club to UEFA Cup and Champions League glory. He built a thrilling team, which included so many star players, before moving to Barcelona, and immediately steering them to a Spanish League and Cup double.

However, he fell out with leading figures at the club. And when he became Dutch national coach, the failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. Van Gaal's career was rejuvenated when he coached AZ Alkmaar to the Dutch title in 2009 before moving to Germany's Bundesliga and bringing sleeping giants Bayern Munich back to life.

When he became manger of the Netherlands for a second time, there was no qualification slip up, and the Oranje will be one of the favorites to lift the World Cup in Brazil.

Alex Thomas, CNN, London.


CLANCY: All right, thanks to Alex for that. And Alex is going to have much more on this appointment for Manchester United in "World Sport." That's coming up straight ahead.

And we want to know, do you think van Gaal will be able to help the club get back to its winning ways? The team at CONNECT THE WORLD wants to know what you think about that team. Contact us at Have your say, why not? Everyone's got an opinion on this one. You can always send me a tweet, as well, to @ClancyCNN.

OK, we've got time for this, a little Parting Shots, so to speak. What happens when you combine the latest hologram technology and the undisputed king of pop? Well, here is the answer for you.




CLANCY: Yes, that's a posthumous performance by Michael Jackson at the 2014 Billboard Awards in Las Vegas. The late king of pop performed "Slave to the Rhythm" with a five-piece band and 16 live dancers. Yes, coming back from the dead live. The hologram took a half a year to plan, choreograph, and develop. But there he is on stage.

I'm Jim Clancy, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks so much for being with us. Stay tuned for all the sports.