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CONNECT THE WORLD

Benjamin Netayahu Set To Make Historic Trip to Washington; Three British Teens Captured on Surveillance In Istanbul; New Video Purported to Show Boris Nemtsov's Death; Rallies In Moscow Commemorate Life of Nemtsov

Aired March 1, 2015 - 11:00:00   ET

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


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: New video of the three British teens now believed to be in Syria to join ISIS. We'll have the very latest on the

trail they left behind this hour.

Also ahead, an opposition leader in life, a symbol for the fight against Vladimir Putin in death. A crowd of thousands gathered in Moscow

to honor Boris Nemtsov. We're live in the Russian capital.

And a man on a mission. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just hours away from touching down in Washington ahead of what he says will

be an historic address for congress. We'll examine the political fallout in both capitals.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

A very good evening. It is 8:00 here in the UAE. Three girls on their half-term break from school waiting at a bus station dressed for the

bitterly cold weather. Nobody in their presence would have any reason to believe anything was awry.

But these girls had just arrived in Istanbul off a flight from London's Gatwick airport. Their destination was several hours southeast of

Turkey's biggest city. They were heading for Syria, possibly planning to become brides of ISIS. And this new closed circuit television footage

captured over the course of 18 hours is the last known sighting of them before they got there.

Well, the girls left London 12 days ago and the circumstances of their disappearance stunned many in the UK and elsewhere. For more on this, Ian

Lee joins me now from Cairo.

And Ian, I want to run this CCTV footage again for our viewers. What have we learned about where this is and where these girls were headed?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, these girls didn't waste any time going from the airport to Istanbul's main bus station

where we see them in the CCTV video. They hover around for roughly 18 hours. And we know this from the timestamp on the video going from

February 17th to the 18th. And you also may notice there's snow on the ground in that video as well. We suspect that is the reason for the bus

delay.

Now, we -- they eventually do get on a bus going from Istanbul to Orfa (ph). Now CNN has talked to an employee at the bus company. They say it's

relatively easy to get a ticket. You can call, you can go online. You just need to give your name. You don't need to show any ID. And the

ticket is roughly $30.

Now, they go on this journey. It's roughly 16 hours. According to the TV station that released this video, they say the girls got off at

Gaziantep. That is roughly 40 kilometers from the border with Syria, Becky.

ANDERSON: Take a look at what we know about the missing girls so far, Ian. The last -- the three last attended their high school Bethnal Green

Academy in east London on Friday February 13. All are described as grade A students. They're on a half-term break when they disappeared.

The last sighting of them in the UK was at Gatwick Airport, as I said, where they were caught on CCTV passing through security on February 17.

After landing in Istanbul, a snow delay seemingly caused them to spend 18 hours, as you say, at the city's main bus station.

Today's new information suggesting they departed for eastern Turkey on that date the following Friday. London police made an appeal for

information about their movements and their motivations. By last Tuesday, Scotland Yard admitted they were likely in Syria already.

And Ian, many questions now about how these girls slipped through the security net both out of London and indeed in Turkey.

LEE: Well, that's right. And the family has wondered, they're asking how could security forces -- security services miss this.

We know that one of these girls was talking to a woman in Syria who has tried to recruit women, to recruit young children to go to Syria to be

these ISIS brides. These are teenage girls.

And so the family is wondering how this conversation could take place under the radar, how they wouldn't be able to know. And also the

government of Turkey has criticized the UK government saying that they didn't give them enough time to know so that they could be waiting for them

at the airport or waiting for them at the bus stations trying to pick up these girls before they made their way to Syria.

And as we know once you get into Turkey that border along -- the long Turkish border with Syria is quite porous.

ANDERSON: Much speculation that they've been recruited online as ISIS brides. To the story of ISIS, I just want to play our viewers, Ian, a

quick clip from the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who appeared on television at the weekend to discuss the need for a strong Arab force

against ISIS.

Let's have a quick listen to his explanation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABDEL FATTAH EL-SISI, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (through translator): We are saying that it is very important now in the light of the risks that we see

everywhere, threats exist everywhere -- by the way, when we say joint Arab force or united Arab force, we do not have any intentions. Neither us nor

the Gulf want to attack anyone. We want to defend our security.

I think that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait and possibly act as well as Jordan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: You're in Egypt. You've been following this story. Is Sisi essentially saying I'll help you in Iraq and Syria if you help me in

Libya and the Sinai, Ian?

LEE: Well, President el-Sisi sees ISIS as one regional threat, whether it is in Iraq or Syria or whether it's in the Sinai peninsula or in

Libya. He believes that there should be a united Arab force to go after them.

And when we look at the Egyptian airstrikes that took place in Libya, he gave a speech after that and he called this a defensive maneuver. He

believes that going after ISIS is a defensive strategy, because this is an organization that wants to go, as he believes, go after these other

countries as well, whether it is Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia.

So, he believes, from what we're hearing, that this is a defensive maneuver. So he's not talking about going into these countries. And

likely if they were to go into any country to attack ISIS, he has said repeatedly that it would be in cooperation with their Arab brothers. And

so he wouldn't go out on it alone. He definitely wants to be part of this larger coalition -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ian Lee is out of Cairo for you this evening. Ian, thank you.

Well, it was a sober day in Moscow where thousands of opposition supporters who had planned to march with activist Boris Nemtsov instead

turned out to mourn him. The protest was supposed to be against Russia's involvement in Ukraine. It took on a decidedly more solemn tone and a

shift in focus as Marchers made their way earlier today to the spot where Nemtsov was shot and killed while walking home from dinner on Friday night.

While the people in the Russian capital paid their respects, the investigation into the killing does continue.

Well, CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is at the rally and joins us now.

And it was, Matthew, some posters that we noticed today in the rally seen at the march. It's a Russian play on words that transforms Nemtsov's

name Boris into a call for action literally that now reads fight, an indication of the mood among some opposition supporters, Matt?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, look, there's a great deal of sadness amongst many of the thousands of people who

turned out at this rally to mourn the killing of Boris Nemtsov, a great deal of anger as well, and perhaps some hopes that this could be a pivotal

moment in Russian politics.

I mean, Boris Nemtsov in life was a relatively marginal figure, at least in the later years of his career. Because he was an opposition

politician and the nature of that he was at the extremities of Russian politics.

In death, though, his killing seems to have, you know, provoked or touched a sore point, touched a nerve, made people reconsider their views,

perhaps, about opposition politics, about the direction in which the country is going.

And so, you know, there's a lot of -- there was a lot of sadness and anger, but also hope that this could be a turning point in the politics of

this country.

Now, there have been other turning points just like this that have fizzled into nothing. And there's every possibility that this could simply

be seen as a very potent message that if you oppose the Kremlin like Boris Nemtsov did, this is how you could end up.

ANDERSON: Let's have a look at what's going on in the investigation, Matthew. A Russian television station says it has surveillance video that

appears to show the killing as it happens. I want our viewers to see this. As you can see it here in this time-lapse video. Look carefully between

the third and fourth streetlights on the left side. The Moscow city government TV station TV Center says it was captured by a low quality

camera that faces a bridge where the shooting occurred.

A reporters says the video shows two people believed to be Nemtsov and a woman walking together.

Notice snow plow moving slowly along the street. And moments later the pair blocked by that snow plow. Next, a person seen walking into the

road and getting into a car behind it. That car then speeds off and the video shows what appears to be one person still at the seen presumed to be

his companion.

CNN, I have to say, cannot confirm the authenticity of the video.

What more do we know about this investigation, Matthew?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, along with that video that's been made public, I mean I look around this center of the Russian capital which is right near

the Kremlin, which is very strictly controlled by the authorities and by the security forces. And there are countless cameras pointing in the

direction of where the killing took place. And so I have very little doubt that there is video out there that the security services perhaps have

access to, but which hasn't been made public, which may shed more light on how this happened, on who carried it out.

Certainly, the investigative committee that's been assembled by the Russian government to get o the bottom of this says they're following a

number of leads. They are -- they've ruled out I think at this stage this white car that was originally said to be where the shots came from. They

found a number of bullet casings on the floor. They've released a digital sort of image of a suspect they believe may have been responsible, or at

least somebody they want in connection with this as well.

And so they say they're making some progress, but I have to say Russia has a very patchy record on getting to the bottom of these kinds of

political killings. There have been Kremlin critics in the past who have been targeted and killed. And no one ever really found to be responsible

for ordering their killings.

And even though this hope -- this will be different -- even though the Kremlin says this will be different, I think there is a lot of skepticism

in Russia that this may go the same way.

ANDERSON: Matthew Chance here in Moscow for you this evening.

Well, anger over Boris Nemtsov's murder isn't just limited to Russia. Ukrainians are also mourning the death of the opposition leader. At the

same time, people in Kiev are now increasing their calls for Moscow to release the Ukrainian pilot being held in Russia.

CNN's Diana Magnay reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It feels as though the whole of Kiev has turned into one gigantic memorial. This, a tribute to

the heavenly hundred killed on the Maidan. And here flowers laid in honor of Boris Nemtsov killed on Friday. People here extremely upset at the

death of a man who was described by Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, as a great friend of Ukraine, a great patriot of Russia and a

man who was a bridge between the two countries. And here there is a sign saying Russia, I am Nemtsov. Kill me. I am Savchenko (ph), shoot me.

Nadia Savchenko (ph) is a Ukrainian pilot who has been a captive in a Russian jail since June last year. She is now on her 80th day of hunger

strike. And this is a rally here in the center of Kiev in her honor.

Russia says that she was behind the killing of two Russian journalists who were hit by mortar fire at a checkpoint in eastern Ukraine last year.

Kiev says that she has been kidnapped and is a prisoner of war.

A little earlier, we spoke with her sister.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Nadia always thanks the whole world for their support. The thing she always asked about first if

the front line, her comrades, and whether people are dying.

MAGNAY: Savchenko (ph) has said that she will continue her hunger strike until she is released back to Ukraine, or she will die in a Russian

jail. She has become something of a national hero in this country, a symbol of Russia's supposed oppression of the Ukrainian people.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Kiev.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, still to come tonight, supporters of the slain Russian activist Boris Nemtsov are already crying foul about the way his

murder is being handled. I want to get you back to the Russian capital for the very latest on the investigation.

Also, an upcoming speech by the Israeli prime minister causes discord in Washington. And it's threatening to boost tensions between the two

countries.

You're watching CNN. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, marching in memory of the man who was meant to be leading them today. Thousands of people walked through central Moscow this

Sunday in tribute to the Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. He was shot dead near the Kremlin on Friday night when in the last few hours,

police have created a digital sketch of the suspect, that's according to Russia's state TV, which says the man who is wanted is around 170

centimeters tall with short, dark hair.

You're watching CNN. This is connect the world with me Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

For more on the investigation into Nemtsov's murder, then, let's bring in CNN's Fred Peitgen who is standing by in Moscow.

What more do we know on the details of the suspect, Fred?

PLEITGEN: Well, it certainly someone where the police obviously are still looking for him.

Now they said that they've made -- put this digital sketch together, Becky, from eye witness accounts, because one of the things that we have to

keep in mind, and you see that a little bit on that surveillance video that was put forward from around the time that Boris Nemtsov was shot, there

were a lot of people who were driving their cars past the scene, there were also some people who were walking in the area there as well and is an area

that would have a lot of life there at that point in time on a Friday evening.

Now they say, as you said, that this person was between about one meter 70 and one meter 75 tall, so about five foot six, five foot seven,

that he had short brown hair and that he apparently was wearing dark blue jeans as well as a brown sweater. So that's as much as they have in the

realm of sort of their digital print that they put together.

The interesting thing is also is that they've revised their theory as to what actually happened that evening, because the first thing that they

said originally was that a car stopped next to Nemtsov and the woman that he was walking with, which is Ana Durickaja (ph), that Ukrainain model.

Someone opened fire from the car and then sped off.

Now what it seems as though, whoever was waiting for Boris Nemtsov might have actually been waiting on that bridge that he was walking on,

might have stalked him somewhere there.

The interesting thing, Becky, about that bridge is that it has several stairways that go up, which is a place that certainly someone could hide if

you were indeed stalking somebody.

The police are also saying that their main witness that they have is still Ana Durickaja (ph) the 23-year-old model who was with Boris Nemtsov

at the time that he was killed. She is still in Moscow. She is apparently in an apartment in a safe location and the authorities are saying that she

is cooperating with them.

However, at this point in time again they don't have anyone in custody yet. They don't seem to have much in the way of who they're actually

looking for. If you look at that description that we were saying before isn't very precise, or doesn't appear to be very precise.

And what they've done now is they've put out a public call for information. The prosecutor's office has said that it's putting out a

reward of 3 million rubles, which is about $50,000, for any hints that would lead to the arrest of the assailant, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right.

I want to talk more about how the Russian authorities are dealing with this, but first Nemtsov was a former insider who once saw Vladimir Putin as

Russia's best hope after the chaos of the Soviet collapse, a view that he later came to regret.

CNN's Anthony Bourdain interviewed Nemstov last February. He painted a picture of a system beholden to one man and his cronies, as he described.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS NEMTSOV, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: You are in the typical country of crony capitalism. This is absolutely typical -- like

Philippines, like Pakistan, like Middle Asian countries, like some others, right. Absolutely typical. If you have good relationship with Putin and

his people around, right, you have a good relationship with governor or mayor, it doesn't matter, if you are in the city, well you have a chance to

raise money, to be successful, you know, to buy real estate in the south of France or in Switzerland, to open accounts in Swiss banks et cetera.

But, if something happen between you and Putin or you and the governor, you will be in jail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: All right.

Fred, Russian authorities said immediately after Boris Nemtsov's killing that it appeared to be, and I quote them, provocation. What does

that mean in the current climate in Russia?

PLEITGEN: Well, yeah -- well, what the Russian authorities are saying when they say that this is supposed to be a provocation, they obviously

mean that it was stoked -- they're trying to stoke unrest with it, they're trying to stoke some sort of sentiment against the government of Vladimir

Putin trying to destabilize the state here, if you will.

It certainly was a statement that came out actually by Vladimir Putin that many people here didn't really believe very much.

If you speak to people at the rally today, also many people who were laying down flowers, many of them will tell you they'll believe that what

happened here was politically motivated.

And certainly there's many people who say that it wasn't necessarily something where they believe that the government is behind this, that there

certainly is no evidence to suggest that. But they do say that they believe that the climate that's been created here, which is one where many

people who dissent towards the government, many people who utter dissent, who speak dissent, are basically treated as traitors. There were a lot of

campaigns against Boris Nemtsov in Russian media that painted him as someone who was basically almost demonizing the Russian state. There were

many who accused him of not being patriotic enough.

And the opposition has been saying that they believe that there was a climate that was created towards them that basically treats them as

traitors. And then within that context, there might have been a group that decided to take matters into their own hands.

So, certainly the Russian -- the official investigation is going in many directions. There's people who say, you know, there might be some

sort of link to Islamists in all of this. There are people who say that it might be elements from Ukraine that might have done this, but certainly if

you ask many people around here, they will tell you they believe that there is a political motivation behind all of this.

Even Vladimir Putin was one who said that he believed that this was a contract killing.

ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow for you this evening.

And some news just in to CNN alluding to the story, the Ukrainian parliamentary Alexei Gonterenko (ph) has been detained by Russian police in

Moscow, that's according to a blog that he posted on Sunday in which he says, "I was detained by the police. They took me to a police car and took

my passport away. They then returned the passport, got me out of the car and punched. I am near the car now and I didn't let go. I did not shout

or anything, did not have any flags or signs. I was detained for a t- shirt," he says.

That is a Ukrainian parliamentarian who was at the Boris Nemtsov memorial march in Moscow earlier today detained by police, he reports on

his blog.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson at 23 minutes past 8:00. Up next, the Israeli prime minister is on his way

to the U.S. to address congress. Why his views on a potential nuclear deal with Iran are raising hackles in Washington.

First, though, the king of Jordan is holding his first interview since ISIS burned one of his nation's pilots to death. What he thinks the

militants were trying to accomplish by releasing video of that brutal murder and how he says it backfired.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: This is Connect the World live from Abu Dhabi for you. I'm Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

The Egyptian and Turkish presidents are in Riyadh as we speak for talks with Saudi Arabia's new monarch.

King Salman has had somewhat of a revolving door policy at his residency of late hosting several Arab leaders in recent days including

Jordan's King Abdullah. He's been calling for a united response against ISIS since a Jordanian pilot was burned alive by the terror group, you'll

remember.

Well, King Abdullah spoke to CNN's Fareed Zakaria in his first interview since ISIS put out that gruesome video showing the pilot's death.

He says he refuses to watch it, calling it ISIS propaganda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: What do you think they were trying to do with the video?

ABDULLAH: They're always trying to intimidate, scare, put fear into people's hearts, and, you know, this is -- this is a group that works by

intimidations. They're trying to invent falsely a linkage to a khalifate, a caliphate, link to our history in Islam, which has no truth or bearing to

our history; to bring in deluded, young men and women that think that this is sort of an Islamic nation, and it has nothing with our history.

And actually the barbarity of the way they executed our brave hero I think shocked the Muslim world and specifically Jordanians and people from

this region that it had nothing to do with Islam. And it's this intimidation that I think they use as their major weapon.

ZAKARIA: How should the West handle this? Should this, the response to ISIS be essentially an Arab response, a Muslim response, or should the West

be in the lead?

ABDULLAH: This has to be unified. I mean, I've said this to leaders both in the Islamic and Arab world and to the world in general, this is a

third World War by other means, this brings Muslims, Christians, other religions together in this generational fight that all of us have to be in

this together.

So it's not a Western fight. This is a fight inside of Islam where everybody comes together against these outlaws, so to speak, together. And

there's a short term part of this, which is the military part of the issue, there is the medium part, which is the security element of it, and then

there's a long term element of this, which is obviously the ideological one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: You can watch Fareed's full exclusive interview with King Abdullah later today 8:00 p.m. London time. The times where you are

watching I'm sure you can work that out.

The latest world news headlines are just ahead here on CNN. Plus, these scenes shocked the world 12 years ago: Iraq's national museum left

defenseless and looted. We're going to take you back to Baghdad for its reopening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. The top stories this hour here on CNN.

As thousands march through Moscow to remember slain oppositional figure Boris Nemtsov. An opposition rally had already been scheduled for

today, but it shifted focus when Nemtsov was gunned down on Friday night.

Well, people in Kiev are throwing their support behind a Ukrainian pilot jailed in Russia. Prayers held today for Nadia Shevchenko (ph) who

has been held since June. The (inaudible) involved in a mortar attack that killed two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine.

Three British teenagers have been captured on surveillance video boarding a bus in Istanbul. It's the first time that the girls have been

spotted since they left London nearly two weeks ago. Authorities say they are likely to have made it to Syria with the goal of joining ISIS.

Well, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling his trip to the U.S. this week crucial and historic. He and his wife left Tel

Aviv for Washington a little earlier today. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to make his case against a nuclear deal with Iran in front of the U.S.

congress. And that has led to some angry back and forth between Israel and the White House.

But as CNN's Erin McPike reports, both nations now seem to be moving towards a more conciliatory tone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to the United States for a controversial visit, there are

signs he may be trying to tone down the angry rhetoric between him and the Obama administration.

During a visit to the western wall before leaving, he said he actually respects President Obama. And in a statement he said, quote, "I believe in

the strength of the relationship between Israel and the U.S. and in their strength to overcome differences of opinion those that have been and those

that will yet be.

And from the White House, a similar sentiment the day before.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Even the prime minister himself has said that the level of security cooperation between the

Netanyahu administration and the Obama administration is unprecedented.

MCPIKE: Mr. Netanyahu sparked a controversy when he and House Speaker John Boehner went around the White House and arranged a visit and speech on

Capitol Hill without consulting anyone in the State Department or the administration in an open effort to derail U.S.-led nuclear negotiations

with Iran.

That move was seen as a breach of etiquette and an open sign of the deteriorating relationship with America's closest ally in the Middle East.

The Tuesday speech has angered Democrats who accuse Netanyahu of driving a wedge into U.S. foreign policy.

JAN SCHAKOWSKY, (D) ILLINOIS: To have the prime minister to contradict exactly what the president in very sensitive negotiations is

trying to do, and that's tried to guarantee that Iran does not have nuclear weapons.

MCPIKE: Illinois congresswoman Jan Schakowsky says she, along with other Democrats, will boycott the speech.

SCHAKOWSKY: The most prevalent sentiment is that they do resent the fact that John Boehner without consulting with the White House and without

talking to Nancy Pelosi, has turned this most prestigious venue in the entire world into a political setting.

MCPIKE: The Israeli leader will also speak to a conference hosted by the American pro-Israel group AIPAC on Monday morning just before U.S.

ambassador to the UN Samantha Power offers her remarks. The two speeches may highlight the clash between the U.S. and Israel as they haggle over how

to approach nuclear negotiations with Iran. However, some foreign policy watchers say the U.S.-Israeli relationship is too important to let wither.

AARON DAVID MILLER, FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: The relationship itself will recover from this, because as I mentioned earlier, unlike Lehman

Brothers, this one really is too big to fail.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well then, on the eve of his departure, Mr. Netanyahu making some positive noises, but can he keep that going in the face of what

is a continuing controversy?

Well, Erin McPike joins me now live from Washington and Oren Lieberman is in Jerusalem for us this evening.

Erin, let's start with you. A fateful, even his historic, mission is how Netanyahu described his trip as he boarded his flight to Washington

earlier today. Some might say these don't necessarily sound like the words of an Israeli leader toning down his rhetoric.

MCPIKE: Becky, that's right. And it may be his intent. But I think by making some of these comments he's really just drawing more attention to

the issue.

Now, I'd point out that here in the U.S. he will be meeting with some lawmakers tomorrow. So he is trying to do some outreach. But I would also

point out that Senator Diane Feinstein, who is a very powerful Democrat in the senate basically called Netanyahu arrogant on CNN this morning. And it

seems that Netanyahu is sort of taking advantage of some of the tumultuous politics that are here in between the Republicans and the Democrats whereas

his opponent in the election is trying to tone that down even more.

ANDERSON: Oren, he has framed this visit as being above partisan politics or to win votes. How is the trip going down in Israel?

OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that of course depends on where you fall on the political spectrum. Those on the right, which would

be Netanyahu's Likud Party, and some of the other parties like Jewish Home support this as a crucial, a very important chance to warn the world about

what a nuclear Iran would do to the security of Israel and perhaps even the stability of the Middle East.

Of course, then those on the left, which would be labor and the Zionist camp, Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni say the exact opposite. Two

weeks to go to the elections, they see this as purely a political move in a very close election where a few of the votes either way could swing this.

It is worth noting that generally the people here all agree on the threat of a nuclear Iran, what they don't agree on is whether Netanyahu's

speech is the right way to address it.

ANDERSON: Oren, one of the greatest bones of contention about this visit, of course, is the proximity of the Israeli elections. They take

place on March 17, of course. And Mr. Netanyahu facing a tough fight at the ballot box.

Three polls were released on Friday, each showing a similar pattern. I want our viewers to take a look at one conducted by TNS and channel 1.

Clearly there are lots of political parties competing, but the crucial battle in terms of building a ruling coalition lies between the Prime

Minister's Right Wing Likud Party and the Center-Left Zionist Union Party. Friday's polling puts them neck and neck with 24 seats each.

When you look at what is going on, on the ground and you take a look at the polls, what is your sense as we move towards what is this crucial

election, an election let's remind ourselves, that was called early by Mr. Netanyahu?

LIEBERMAN: Well, Becky, these polls show us how close it really is here. And over the last few weeks we've seen numbers very similar to this,

either tied at 24 or 25 one way and 23 the other or vice versa. And that tells you two things.

First, how truly close this is. And second, it shows you the importance of Netanyahu's speech in political terms, because it could sway

voters in either direction. And with an election this close, just a few voters going either way could swing this and determine Israel's next prime

minister.

ANDERSON: Erin, finally with you, Republicans insisting that they notified the White House about the original invitation for this speech to

congress, they just didn't, and I quote, "consult or get approval first."

Can you just break down where you really believe this all puts the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. How would you describe that

relationship at present?

MCPIKE: Well, the Obama administration is certainly angry about this. And this whole idea that Republicans notified the White House, but they

didn't consult is an important one, because the White House continues to say that they won't meet with world leaders within two weeks of an

election, because the White House continues to say that they won't meet with world leaders within two weeks of an election, because they don't want

to be seen as tipping the scales in any kind of way. And that is why we're continuing to see so much irritation come out of the White House. And in

fact, Susan Rice called this visit potentially destructive to that relationship, so those were important things to note that yes, the White

House is very irritated, and it is fraying the relationship a little bit more.

ANDERSON: Erin McPike is in Washington for you and Oren Lieberman is in Jerusalem this evening. Thank you both.

What's your view on Benjamin Netanyahu's trip to Washington? Should his congressional speech go ahead? We want to get your views,

Facebook.com/CNNConnect is one way to get hold of us. Alternatively, you can tweet me @BeckyCNN, also on Instagram BeckyCNN. The team is

@CNNConnect.

Right, tonight's parting shots, I'm going to take you to the country often called the cradle of civilization, a state now seeing its heritage

shattered once more in front of the cameras, I'm talking about Iraq.

These scenes are from its national museum. After the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, thousands of priceless artifacts were looted after the

building was left unguarded as the capital fell.

Well, take a listen to Donny George back then, the director of antiquities who was asked about American troops -- or sorry, asked American

troops for help that never came.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONNY GEORGE (ph), ANITQUITIES DIRECTOR, IRAQ NATIONAL MUSEUM: This museum is the only museum in the whole world that contains complete history

of mankind starting from half a million years ago until the last century. And that's the only museum in the world that has this continuous history in

the world with art objects that you can see and you can trace and follow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For example, what was something valuable that was here?

GEORGE (ph): Everything was valuable, everything, because everything was unique.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, Mr. George died four years ago so he never witnessed what was that heartbreaking side of Iraq's antiquities once more under

attack this time by ISIS in Mosul. Smashing some ancient sculptures and selling off others.

But there's one small sign of hope, the country's national museum is now fully open to visitors for the first time in 12 years. At the opening,

the prime minister said Iraq, quote, "will stop ISIS from smuggling the artifacts it didn't destroy."

Haider al-Abaidi (ph) said, quote, "the world is on our side" as he made his appeal for help to preserve 7,000 years of history, some of which

is now back on display in Baghdad this evening.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was Connect the World. From the team here in Abu Dhabi, it is a very good evening.

END