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Israel Votes; U.S.-Iran Nuclear Talks; Former Jihadi Explains ISIS Mentality. Aired 11-12:00P ET

Aired March 17, 2015 - 11:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Well, a weighty choice ahead for almost 6 million voters in Israel as the deeply divided electorate goes to the polls.

<11:00:15> Domestic worries trump foreign concerns for most, but this vote will echo beyond Israel's borders. We'll tell you why.

Also ahead, as Israel decides the talks opposed by Prime Minsiter Netanyahu continue. We get the latest as the deadline hangs over the Iran




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He chose to be a judge. And a judge in a most brutal way, even though he isn't qualified for it.


ANDERSON: Well, we hear from a former jihadi turned double agent about the ideology and intentions of key figures in ISIS.

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

ANDERSON: A very good evening. It is 7:00 in the evening here. Five hours to go before the polls close in an Israeli election that is too close

to call. Millions there casting their vote in the country's parliamentary elections.

Now incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is running for the fourth term, but is facing some very tough competition. His main challenger, this

man. Coming up, Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union Alliance who has fought a hard campaign to try and unseat Mr. Netanyahu.

Polls close at 10:00 p.m. local time, that is when exit poll information will be released.

Well, Elise Labott is standing by a Likud headquarters. And Elise, the Israeli election are nothing if not complicated. The consequences of the

vote will be felt, though, not just in Israel but in the wider region and indeed around the world. What's the mood in Netanyahu's camp less than

five hours away from the close of these polls?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, it's certainly one of desperation, I might say. In the last 48 hours, Prime Minister Netanyahu

has pulled out all the stops really trying to energize that right-wing base.

He knows that we've been reporting the last few days behind in the polls about four seats and so in the last several days has been making a lot of

statements bending to that right-wing mentality. First he started talking about hedging on his longstanding position on a Palestinian State saying he

didn't support it any longer, felt that it would open the door to ISIS and Islamic extremism.

And today he issued a very controversial video talking about the Arab parties who we've been reporting on your show have been doing very well in

this election and are poised to really have a balance of power in the knesset. Take a listen to the prime minister's statement earlier today.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): The right regime is in danger. The Arab voters are coming in huge amounts to

the polls. The lefists are bringing them in huge amounts to polls using buses. Dear all, we don't have V15 (ph), we have an urgent wakeup call.

Bring your friends, bring your family, vote for Likud so we can close the gap between us and Labor Party. With your help, with god's help, we'll

have a national government and we can create a national government that can secure that state of Israel.


LABOTT: And so obviously what he is doing is trying to bend that that right-wing mentality, but it could backfired, Becky. Obviously the Arabs

coming out, party saying listen this is incitement. This is racism. We are Israeli citizens and we are entitled to vote. But Moshe Kahlon, the

Kulanu Party, who is really supposed to be a kingmaker in this election, was a former Likud minister now had his own party came out told CNN that

these remarks showed that Prime Minister Netanyahu is feeling the stress, calling the remarks offensive and inappropriate.

Now Foreign Minister Lieberman has also (inaudible) talking about how dangerous it would be if the Arabs get a lot of votes.

So clearly the right-wing parties are really feeling the (inaudible).

ANDERSON: Well, let me just get to our viewers a quote from the foreign minister. There does seem to have been some last minute attempts to stop

leftists from gaining any momentum.

The Haaretz Newspaper quoting Lieberman as saying on Twitter the following, "if you want to prevent forming of ISIS and al Qaeda cells inside Israel

vote for me." Interesting quote there.

Your thoughts Elise.

LABOTT: Well, he said it on his Facebook page. And he said it on (inaudible) I'm the only person that could keep this strong, even saying

that Netanyahu isn't strong enough.

These -- it's clearly -- these parties, Netanyahu and Lieberman, will be behind in the polls. I think it's really ironic, Becky, that the reason

that the Arab parties united was because of this law that Foreign Minister Lieberman had passed through the knesset called the threshold law, which

means that any party would have to get a little over 3 percent of the vote to actually take part in the knesset. And some of these Arab parties are

very small and the supposition was that Foreign Minister Lieberman was trying to kick them out.

So what they did was they united. And now the fact that they are really surging in the polls means that Foreign Minister Lieberman himself may not

even make the threshold in this election. That's pretty ironic, Becky.

<11:05:46> ANDERSON: Elise Labott is there at Likud headquarters for you. Elise, thank you.

The drama likely to go on well after the result is called as the party leaders begin the horsetrading with the president, of course, to choose a

prime minister. The question at this point how much danger is the right- wing in.

Well, let's take a look at the opinion polls that came out on Friday. Under Israeli election rules, that is the last day these surveys can be

released before the vote.

The results of a poll, then conducted by Israel's Channel 2 shows Mr. Netanyahu's Likud party trailing its main challenger the Zionist Union

coalition by four seats. The Joint List is a newly formed alliance of Israel's main Arab parties. It came in third with 13 seats. The Centrist

Party Yesh Atid is polling with 12 seats and the poll shows a handful of other parties winning seats as well.

We'll have to wait and see if these pre-election poll numbers bare any resemblance to the actual vote.

Exit poll numbers are expected at 10:00 p.m. local time, a little less, as I said, five hours from now.

Well, we'll have more on the Israeli election later in the show. And we'll hear what a Palestinian official has to say about Prime Minister

Netanyahu's latest comments ruling out the creation of a Palestinian state if he is reelected.

Also, we'll head to the Zionist Union headquarters and check in there with our correspondent. And we'll look at the progress of the Iranian nuclear

talks that Mr. Netanyahu has tried to derail.

Well, the work of striking an agreement over Iran's nuclear program goes on in Switzerland. And the lock is ticking louder every day.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met again this morning with Iran' foreign minister. Over the past 24 hours Mohamad Javad Zarif has shuttled

back and forth between meetings with Kerry and EU ministers in Brussels.

Now the goal is to have a framework for an international deal by the end of March. The U.S. says some progress have been made, but cautions that there

are still some major hurdles to overcome.

Well, our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is tracking the progress in the negotiations and he joins us now from CNN in London -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Becky, this certainly what we've heard from the State Department this morning after

that two hour meeting between Secretary Kerry and foreign minister Zarif really said, look, while we've been able to identify some technical options

and we've made some progress in identifying technical options, you know, they note and stress that while saying that this doesn't refer to the

issues of sanctions. So these are just technical issues where they've sort of made progress in identifying the options not made agreements is how the

State Department is characterizing this progress.

And they say you know they stress again in the same sentence saying that that they still have a ways to go.

However, the Iranian news agency the FARS news agency, is now quoting one of the senior Iranian representatives at those talks, Ali Akbar Salahi (ph)

who is the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, they're quoting him as saying they've made so much progress they're 90 percent towards

making a deal.

But I think we have to look at that in the context of what we've been hearing all along so far. And we've heard this from the state department,

too, that you can have a lot of agreement, but the hardest parts of the agreement are the last parts. So, while this may sound like an attractive

headline coming from Salahi (ph) right now, it fits in with the broader picture of what we're hearing that there still are some fundamental

differences that have to be narrowed and agreed and crossed.

It was interesting what we heard from Foreign Minister Zarif after he met with the European foreign ministers yesterday. He descried the meeting as



<11:09:57> MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The negotiations were very useful. We had some very good

discussions. The methods of resolving the issues, how to resolve the remaining topics, were assessed with the European countries. And the

European countries announced their determination for an active presence and help reach a solution.


ROBERTSON: So, what we heard then from a source quoted by Reuters, a European political source who was close to that meeting said, look, why we

did have a long meeting there still exists significant gaps and we weren't able to narrow the differences.

So, you know, the narrative at the moment, Becky, it's very much the talks continue, the deadline looms, but you know the fundamental agreements, the

really tough parts, haven't been achieved yet, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right, we're going to do more on this as the hour progresses, but for the time being Nic thank you.

Still to come tonight, that and life inside ISIS. We hear from a former fighter who knows some of the key figures in Syria, that being ISIS


And the Israel election won't only have an impact on Israel, but also in the neighboring Palestinian territories. We're going to get the

Palestinian point of view on the race next on this show. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Well, earlier today Israel's foreign minister cast his vote in his home settlement of Notgem (ph) in the West Bank. He heads the ultra

nationalists, the Israeli (inaudible) party. He urged Israelis to vote for a Zionist party.

Well, you're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

As Israel votes, the view from the Palestinian territories is not optimistic. Take a listen to the concerns of these residents of Ramallah

and Gaza.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We always wait for new government, new elections, but we never see anything. All of them are zionist parties

and are competing with each other for confiscating the Palestinian land, killing the Palestinians and controlling the holy sites, including


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We will never see justice in our life. We Palestinians will never accept any Israeli minister, because

whoever comes will commit more crimes against us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We hope that there will be a good change towards peace and negotiations, but I do not expect anything,

neither from the Israeli government nor from the Israeli nation.


ANDERSON: Well, my next guest is no friend to the currently Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has said he hopes Mr. Netanyahu's time as prime

minister comes to an end. For more on the Palestinian point of view, I'm joined now by the Palestinian National Initiative Leaguer and Palestinian

Parliament member Mustafa Barghouti.

On the eve of the election, Prime Minister Netanyahu, sir, made these comments declaring that he wouldn't allow a Palestinian state to be formed.

I think I may have lost our guest. If I have, I have -- his Skype has gone down.

All right, let's move on and see if we can get Mr. Barghouti back. And we'll move on for this -- as I say, trying to get him back.

A win for Isaac Herzog, then, would bring a relatively little known face into the international spotlight. This, of course, the opposition leader

in Israel at present. A fresh face with some new policy proposals.

CNN's Oren Lieberman has this report about the prime minister's main challenger.


<11:15:58> OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isaac Herzog finding himself at the cener of the Israeli elections, his Zionist Union Party hanging on

to a slim lead in the final polls before the election, a lead he's confident he can hold.

ISAAC HERZOG, ZIONIST UNION PARTY LEADER: Throughout my long political career I've always suffered from a certain underestimation and I've always


LIEBERMAN: Herzog's career as a politician in the knesset began in 2003 with the Labor Party. In 2013, Herzog became the leader of the Labor Party

and the head of the opposition against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for early elections Herzog pegged his bid for the premiership on

social reform.

HERZOG: What I run for is the following: social justice. I will change the nature of the division of wealth in a fairer and more balanced way.

LIEBERMAN: On the issue of a threat of a nuclear Iran, Herzog promised to work with the United States and European powers not against to ensure the

safety of Israel.

HERZOG: The nuclear armed Iran is dangerous to the world peace, too dangerous for our region, and it's dangerous to Israel. We will do our

utmost and me as leader of Israel I will never accept a nuclear armed Iran, never. And all options are on the table.

LIEBERMAN: In these elections, Herzog promised to restarted the stalled peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, committing to the process of

negotiations, while hedging on an actual result.

HERZOG: I will do my best to ignite a political process with our Palestinian neighbors.

LIEBERMAN: Herzog comes from Israeli political royalty. His grandfather, the first chief rabbi of the state of Israel, his father an army general,

UN ambassador and former Israeli president. Now it falls to this generation, to Isaac Herzog, who says this is his destiny.

HERZOG: What I carry with me is, yes, a strong legacy, a unique legacy, a family legacy. But most importantly, an experience that brings me to to be

able to lead our nation.

LIEBERMAN: Oren Lieberman, CNN, Jerusalem.


ANDERSON: Well, that was Oren Lieberman reporting there.

Well, we were talking, or hoping to talk to Mustafa Barghouti who is the Palestinian National Initiative leader and member of the Palestinian

parliament. Well, let's bring him back.

Sir, I wanted to just get you a quote from the prime minister who had this to say on the eve of the election. Have a listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian State, anyone who is going to

evacuate territories today is simply giving a base for attacks to radical Islam against Israel. This is the true reality that was created here in

the last few years. They who do not understand that stick their heads in the sand. The left are doing it, sticking their head in the sand time and

time again.

UNIDENTIFIE MALE (through translator): So if you are prime minister, a Palestinian State will not be formed?



ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Barghouti does that surprise you?

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN NATIONAL INITIATIVE: No, not at all. It actually proves my point. I remember appearing on CNN a few years ago and

Netanyahu spoke about the possibility of a Palestinian State and I said he was lying. And actually now he is proving that he was lying.

Unfortunately, all the Zionist parties in Israel are now competing about how to expand illegal settlements. They're all competing about how to keep

their illegal annexation of Jerusalem. We don't have a peace partner among the Israeli Zionist parties, that is the truth. And of course they are

competing between Lieberman who is speaking about beheading Palestinians or killing presidents -- assassinating them, or Mr. Netanyahu who says that

there is not place for a Palestinian state, or Mr. Herzog who (inaudible) continue to build settlements.

ANDERSON: Well, one exception, surely, is the alliance of the Arab parties who would bring better support for Palestinians surely.

<11:11:59> BARGHOUTI: Absolutely. This is the only encouraging factor in these elections. The fact that all Arab parties unified together will give

them a lot of strength in the future knesset. And this will allow them to defend the Palestinian community from the system of racism and apartheid

that has prevailed in Israel.

There will also be more capable of supporting our struggle for freedom from occupation and freedom from the same system of racism and apartheid that

Israel has clear did not only -- and Palestinian occupied territories, but also inside Israel.

This is the only encouraging thing in these elections.

On the other hand, we realize as Palestinians that we will never be able to achieve anything with the Zionist parties unless we change the balance of

power on the ground. Through popular nonviolence...

ANDERSON: It's interesting, isn't it...

BARGHOUTI: Yes, please.

ANDERSON: Sorry, sir. I didn't mean to interrupt you. This is a terrible line, though.

It is interesting, because this sort of indifference that I can sense from the Palestinians to this election wasn't always the norm, was it?

BARGHOUTI: No, there is no indifference here. What you see is actually more care about our future, but we are not going to be deceived again after

21 years of useless negotiations and after 21 years of also process. We've learned not to believe the words, but to see the actions. The actions on

the ground are illegal settlement expansion, annexation and the system of apartheid. That's what we are struggling against. And we will succeed in

our struggle one day.

One day we will convince the Israeli voters they should not vote for right- wingers. They should not vote for those who support racism. But they should vote for peace and for creating a real peace partner with the

Palestinian people.

ANDERSON: Since January, Israel is reported to have been withholding more than $100 million in taxes, sir, that it collects every month on behalf of

the Palestinian authority. If you just had to describe for me how the Palestinian Authority conducts itself, works, keeps the economy going with

that sort of withholding of finance, what would you say?

BARGHOUTI: It barely can do so, because the Palestinian Authority depends completely on collection of taxes and 70 percent of our income, of our tax

comes from through a collection that Israel does, and for which Israel receives a commission, of course, of 3 percent.

Israel has been withholding this money, which means they are having -- they're acting in a form of financial piracy.

This is leading the Palestinian Authority to the edge of collapse.

But on the other hand, the PA finds itself obliged now to suspend all forms of security coordination with Israel and to take additional measures to

counter the Israeli actions, because Israel by doing so, by withholding taxes, is trying to make the Palestinian Authority collapse. and is trying

to besiege the Palestinian Authority and force it to do things it cannot do, because its people would not accept it.

ANDERSON: With that, we're going to leave it there. Mr. Barghouti, we thank you for joining us. A view from the Palestinian side of what is a

big story that is resonating around the world.

As you would expect, we are on this story from all angles on air and online. Do use in depth for analysis and op ed pieces, including

this piece from the veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy (ph). He argues that the elephant in the room this election cycle has been Israel's

occupation of the Palestinian territories. That and more on

Well, live from Abu Dhabi at 23 minutes past 7:00 -- forgive us for some of our technical hitches tonight -- but we're back on track coming up.

How people in the U.S. view their country's deep involvement in negotiating with Iran. It's one issue where apparently politics are set aside.

Next, though, Muscat's old town is getting a makeover, one that costs more than a billion dollars. We are in Oman for One Square Meter.



<8:26:05> JOHN DEFTERIOS, EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: This is an image that visitors to Muscat and easily recall. This week on One Square Meter, we

explore the iconic port of Mutra (ph) and plans underway to give it a major facelift.

As the afternoon begins to fade in the Gulf of Oman, the Mutra Suq (ph) starts to come to life. The hunt begins for bright textiles from South

Asia, Omani silver and frankincense. As visitors gather to this hub of activity, recalling Oman's vast empire back in the 17th Century.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think as a tourist, you come and you're looking for that destination that still is untouched. And I felt it a little bit here

when I came, because we've traveled the world and it's here and they've just go to preserve it.

DEFTERIOS: The government agrees, going through a painstaking multi-year process to upgrade this historical gem.

The Suq (ph) at the center of the port. The idea is to modernize all the infrastructure around it and provide new amenities. At the same time,

trying to maintain the look and feel of an ancient trading hub.

There is ample budget, nearly $1.3 billion.

Thanks for having me.

Jamal Mohammed Ali (ph) is a third generation trader of antiques, whose shop Aladdin's (ph) City is at the heart of the Suq (ph). He's frustrated

by what he sees as the slow pace of modernization and a lack of information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Every time they come up with plans the head of the municipality comes here. And then a year or two later, it

all collapses. Why? What happens to all these meetings and plans?

DEFTERIOS: He invited me to take a look at the old ceiling covered by simple Ratan mats with no proper drainage system to avoid flooding.

Outside the Suq (ph) Omanis go about their daily routines. This group plays cards in the shadow of two simple hotels that don't quite live up to

the five star resorts in the center of Muscat.

The old fish markets lacks modern amenities, despite a sizable catch.

But life is changing. Looking down on the port, once can see the new fish market taking shape. And what was known as a haunted building on the

waterfront is now a restaurant called Bet al Lumant (ph), or the house of frankincense.

Omani chef Malek al Jadami (ph) was surprised when the owners approached him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a few hundred buildings, as people say, and everything is vacant over here. It's like, no, there's this one building,

antique building. I was like isn't that haunted? He was like, no, no, no. We're going to haunt the building. So...

DEFTERIOS: Today, he's busy serving up Omani dishes to those charmed by the waterfront.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody wants to come to Muscat (ph) now and show what he can -- to show the Omanization, the Omani lifestyle and Omani

cuisine and all that in this area.

DEFTERIOS: A port of significance on the ancient Silk Road that the government wants to preserve.

John Defterios, CNN, Muscat, Oman.



<11:31:44> ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. The top stories for you this hour here on CNN. And polls close

in four-and-a-half hours time in the Israeli parliamentary elections. Millions have been casting their votes. And pre-election polls indicated

that the race is too close to call. The polls close at 10:00 p.m. local time. And we expect the first exit numbers to be released soon after that.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks again today in Switzerland. Zarif calls

his meetings with EU officials yesterday useful. World powers scrambling to strike a deal to curb Iran's nuclear program by the end of March.

Aid agencies in Vanuatu are expressing concern at the potential scale of the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam at the weekend. The number of dead

currently stands at 11, but it could take weeks to find out just how bad the situation is there. Many of the outlying islands are cutoff from the


Well, the election happening now in Israel is unlike any other for the nation's for the nation's Arab parties. For the first time, as we've been

explaining, they've teamed up to form a bloc known as the Joint List. They were united under the leadership of one man, Arab-Israeli politician Aimen

Odeh. He cast his ballot earlier in Haifa with his family at his side.

Now a pre-election poll released Friday, the last (inaudible) showed his Joint List coming in third with 13 seats.

CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott has more on what is a potentially game changing (inaudible).



ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is a powerful new face in Israeli politics. In a sea of Jewish parties

campaigning at Hebrew University, Aimen Odeh is a star attraction, but he is not Jewish. He is an Israeli citizen of Palestinian descent, one of 1.6

million living in Israel. And come election day, the bloc he leads, dubbed the joint list, could hold the balance of power in the Knesset, a potential

game changer for one-fifth of the country who for decades has complained of being second-class citizens.

"No one can ever ignore us again," he told us. "We want to close the social and economic gaps between Arabs and Jews in this country."

Walking through the Wadinesnas (ph) neighborhood of Haifa, he is welcomed as a local.

"I walk this street every day," he says. "I belong to each shop, even person."

Growing up here, he says he identified with Malcom X. Now the 41-year- old lawyer relates to Martin Luther King. Having convinced Israel's tiny

splintered Arab parties to team up for the first time, he now wants Arabs to get out and vote to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu, who he says fuels racism

and incitement against them in their own country.

"What makes people vote is the hope of change," he says. "We are 20 percent of the population. Together we can prevent him from forming a government."

There is some skepticism, but many here in Wadinesnas believe their native son can lead them to a better place.

"Many people didn't want to vote before," this man told us. "We asked for our rights, but we never get anything. This is a good step and united we

can be strong."

While Odeh's focus is on improving life for Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories, he says he needs Israeli Jews to help.

"Arabs alone cannot make a democracy strong," he says. "It must be Arabs and Jews together."

A message that resonates back at Hebrew University, where some Jewish students are joining the fight against what they call institutional


<11:35:37> UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not only a struggle of the Palestinian minority within Israel, it's a struggle of the Palestinian minority

together with the Mocati (ph) Jews like myself.

LABOTT: It's not a vision shared by most in Israel, but Odeh's message is, now is their chance. By finding their voice and using their vote, they can

make that vision a reality.

Elise Labott, CNN, Jerusalem.


ANDERSON: Well, it has been suggested that while his alliance will not join any governing coalition, he wouldn't rule out support for the Zionist

Union Party's Isaac Herzog.

Now Herzog may not be a well known name outside of Israeli politics, but he's offering a formidable challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's

reelection bid. Do remember that it was Netanyahu himself who called this election early.

Herzog casting his ballot earlier today in Tel Aviv and calling on his voters to help put him at the head of Israel's next government.


HERZOG (through translator): This election is between change and hope or despair and disappointment. However wants to continue the way of Bibi,

despair and disappointment, can vote for him. Whoever wants change, change, hope and a really better future for Israel vote for the Zionist

Union under my leadership and give me the mandate with full strength to form a good government for Israel and change the direction it is heading to

a better direction and future.


ANDERSON: Interesting.

A mandate he calls for with full strength. Will he get it.

CNN's Oren Lieberan is following the election from Zionist Union headquarters in Tel Aviv joining me now.

When the polls close, Oren of course, the drama likely to go on if not really begin as party leaders will be horsetrading with the president to

choose a new prime minister.

At this point, it does seem that Netanyahu and his right wing are looking in danger.

What's the mood where you are?

LIEBERMAN: Well, Becky, everyone here is lining up, everyone here is excited. There is certainly a sense of optimism here and a sense of hope.

But you're absolutely right that everyone here knows what's at stake. And they know they need a very strong showing not only from the Zionist Union

Party here, but some of the other left-wing parties to really win this election tonight, for there to be little or not doubt that Isaac Herzog

will be the next prime minister.

And Netanyahu knows this. He knows -- he's a master politician, a master dealmaker, and he knows if the right-wing makes a strong showing, and they

have a number of parties there, if they make a strong showing, even if Herzog wins tonight, it could still be Netanyahu at the prime minister.

Becky, everybody knows the realities of Israeli politics here.

ANDERSON: Yeah, because as we heard Mr. Herzog as he was voting earlier on, he was calling for a mandate with full power effectively.

How likely is that given that the last polls we saw, of course, were Friday, those were the last published polls. What's the sense of just how

strong a showing he might get?

LIEBERMAN: Well, the latest numbers we've seen -- again those election polls came out on Friday -- he looks to be at 26 seats, that's according to

Channel 2 Israel, our CN affiliate here. 26 seats and the Likud Party, Netanyahu's party at 22 seats. A four seat gap, probably not enough. He

needs a little bit more of a gap to guarantee it.

And that's what he's hoping to get. He's hoping that gap opens up.

What's significant about that gap that even if it's a small gap it is the biggest gap we've seen in the these elections so far. Just a couple of

weeks ago this was neck in heck. The Likud Party and the Zionist Union running at about 23, 24 seats apiece. And it's in this final week, these

final two weeks, perhaps, that we've seen that gap open up.

Herzog wants to exploit that. And he wants to widen that gap to make sure that he gets the chance to go to the president to say I'm the guy who

should make a coalition.

He hopes that happens. We'll have our first hint of that in about four, four-and-a-half hours when we get our first election polls after the ballot

boxes close.

ANDERSON: Yeah, Oren Lieberman is on the story for you out of Tel Aviv this evening.

Well, while the U.S. and other world powers scramble to make a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear activities, Americans watching very closely. It

turns out they are mostly happy to see the two sides talking.

In a new CNN/ORC poll, 68 percent asked said they favor the direct negotiations between the United States and Iran. 29 percent said they

opposed the talks. And the high approval rate goes across party lines.

The polls show the diplomatic efforts getting strong support from Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Lets go live now to the site of these negotiations, Lausanne in Switzerland. Reza Marashi is there. He's the research director for the

National Iranian-American Council. And he joins us from there, a regular guest on this show.

We've just been talking Israeli elections, so before we talk about the machinations of what's been going on and what may happen in the days to

come, Reza, how will the election -- the outcome, sorry, of the Israeli election -- debate inform these talks, do you think, if at all?

<11:40:47> REZA MARASHI, NATIONAL IRANIAN-AMERICAN COUNCIL: Well, I think that it's no secret to anybody that's one of your viewers that Prime

Minister Netanyahu is not amenable to these negotiations, he's not a friend of these negotiations and he doesn't support these negotiations.

So, should a new Israeli (inaudible) elected, and is able to form a new coalition government in Israel, that could provide greater flexibility on

the part of the United States and their P5+1 negotiating partners strictly because they won't face (inaudible) from their friends in Tel Aviv that

they have been facing for quite some time now under the Netanyahu government.

ANDERSON: All right, let's get to these talks, because you get inside and behind closed doors, as it were.

How would you describe the overall mood in Lausanne?

MARASHI: I think cautious optimism is the way that I would define the mood here in Lausanne. Both sides have openly acknowledged very publicly that

progress is being made, but both sides also say that that progress is not being made as quickly as they would like it to be happening.

From where we were just a couple of weeks ago, tremendous progress has been made.

They do have a few remaining gaps that need to be closed. They're hoping to get that done by the end of this week. If not, there's a very real

possibility that they might need to come back here again sometime next week to dot the is and cross the ts, as they say.

ANDERSON: All right, we'll the Iranian foreign minister has been shuttling around during the week, of course, talking with the U.S. and European

officials. I just want our viewers to get a sense of what he's been saying, not all of them part of the P5+1 group of nations, of course,

involved in this effort. Here is what Zarif had to say after his trip to Brussels on Monday.


ZARIF (through translator): Different countries definitely each have their own positions, but we are negotiating with the 5+1 as a hole. If there are

differences of opinion it's between them and they must move as a coherent gruop towards resolving the nuclear issue and with the necessary political

will to do so.


ANDERSON: They must move as a coherent group. Does he say that because the Iranians don't believe they are a coherent group at this point?

MARASHI: Well, I think that the Iranians are trying to be as strategic as they possible came when it comes to these negotiations. (inaudible) that

they're going to have to deal seriously with everybody that's at the negotiating table that's part of the P5+1.

They also understand that the domestic politics inside of some P5+1 countries, especially the United States -- can be perhaps taken advantage

of and used as leverage, because for example when 47 Republican senators send an open letter saying that they plan on trying to sabotage these

negotiations that are taking place, that requires, then, the United States to provide additional assurances, additional commitments to demonstrate

good will and demonstrate their ability to follow through on any deal that might be signed.

The Iranians know what they're dealing with. They've been at this for over a year now at the negotiating table to various parties. So right now it's

come down to horse trading, haggling and a bit of brinkmanship.

ANDERSON: Well, that (inaudible) CNN/ORC poll of Americans that I was talking about before we came to you, Reza, on the Iran nuclear

negotiations, also (inaudible) many of them are displeased with that letter that Republicans sent to Iranian leaders that warned any deal could be


But in that same poll, only about a third of those asked thought that the letter would have an actual negative impact on the talks. In fact, nearly

half said it would have no impact at all.

Reza, the Iranians have brought that letter up, haven't they, more than once during these latest talks. How did that play into negotiations? And

what are the consequences of that phrase?

MARASHI: Becky, that's a great question.

I think that we know for a fact that the letter came up twice in the negotiations. Once in the broader negotiations, and once in the bilateral

meeting between Foreign Minister Zarif and Secretary Kerry.

What this letter has done is it has weakened the hand of American negotiators, because you have two different branches of the American

government saying two very different things. That allows the Iranian government to, a, place a greater load of responsibility and blame on the

shoulders of the United States should these negotiations prove to be successful, but also and perhaps more importantly, it requires the United

States, then, to provide additional assurances, additional guarantees to the Iranians.

And what that means is whatever deal is signed, the Iranians are going to want to know exactly what happens if the United States is not able to

fulfill its commitments, exactly what will take place should the United States try to fulfill its commitments, but congress ends up sabotaging the


<11:45:39> ANDERSON: Reza Marashi, a regular guest on this show. With very well informed. We thank you very much indeed for your analysis.

You're watching Connect the World with me Becky Anderson live from Abu Dhabi. Coming up, the hopes and fears of Syrian woman who have been

displaced during the civil war, that will be in today's parting shots you. That in about 10 minute's time.

And he was once a jihadist and a double agent. Well, now he's telling us a bout the inner workings of terror groups such as ISIS. That is up next.


ANDERSON: About 20 medical workers abducted by ISIS in Libya have been released. A hospital official says they were sent back to their homes and

ordered not to leave. Now they were taken by more then 30 gunmen who had attacked the hospital in Sirte. Most of the workers are from the

Philippines, we believe.

Well, that attack underscores the threat posed by extremist groups like ISIS across the region.

Few people have an intimate understanding of the inner workings of the Jihadist group. One man, though, who does is Aimen Dean. I sat down with

him for what is a fairly extraordinary tale.


AIMEN DEAN, FRM. JIHADIST: What led me to become a jihadist was the Bosnian conflict in the early 1990s.

You know, teachings of the Quran about martyrdom and about the need to help defenseless Muslims at the time was what led me to go.

Both Americans were killed, but 240 Africans were killed and 150 were blinded for life.

The shock of it was a level of brutality and level of, you know, bloodshed on that day. I realized we are doing something that is fundamentally

contrary to Islamic spirit, which is forcing the hand of god here.

<11:50:13> ANDERSON: Aimen, you speak to people fighting for ISIS in Raqqa, for example, meeting out justice on behalf of ISIS. What do are

they telling you?

DEAN: This friend of mine who is a judge there in al Raqqa, when I ask him are we preachers or judges? And he said, no, judges. That is the

question, you know. Are we preachers or judges. He chose to be a judge. And a judge in a brutal way even though he isn't qualified for it. He left

university in his third year, before he finished his qualification.

And as you know to become a sharia judge you have to be an assistant to a judge for several years, five to seven years at least in order to see how

the judge rules between people and how he applies the law properly before you can go and apply the law on others and you start light. You start with

marriages and divorces and inheritance before you go into criminal law.

However, immediately into penal code, applying it on women, on ordinary people, crucifixions, beheadings, stoning, lashes, flogging people. I

think this is where - it shows that the prophesy was right somehow, that their hearts of made of iron.

ANDERSON: For those who have joined ISIS how do you explain their justification according to the prophesies?

DEAN: al Qaeda before and now ISIS believe that they are the army of the black flags. They exist in Iraq, in Yemen and in Syria. They have

positioned themselves around these locations on top of Afhganistan and order to in a way force the hand of god here, in order to bring about this

monumental shift, a turning point in the history of the Islamic world.

Fulfilling the prophesies is an act in which provides them legitimacy and provides them with recruits, because when you tell people that you are

there as part of god's plan, then of course they will fight without any question regarding the motives of the tactics or the methods that the

Islamic State is using. They will say, well, the prophet foretold of this conflict. The prophet told us that there will be a jihad here in Syria, so

whoever leading the jihad must be righteous and whatever decisions they make must be righteous.

ANDERSON: I wonder whether there was any risk that your interpretation of the prophesies is wrong?

DEAN: I do not know for certain that my interpretation is right or their interpretation is wrong.

But what I do believe is that there are universal standards of justice. There are universal standards of mercy. You have to use logic, otherwise

god gave us that instrument called our minds and our brains in order to judge what is right and what is wrong according to logic. And therefore,

if you apply logic and you see that it correspondents with a Quranic teaching then basically it the right path to take.


ANDERSON: Aimen Dean there.

Stay with us. We'll be back after this.


<11:55:08> ANDERSON: Tonight's Parting Shots. As Syria enters its fifth year -- fifth year of civil war, we meet some Syrian women who were forced

from their homes, but longed to return. Have a listen to this.


NATALIE NACCACHE, BRITISH-LEBANESE PHOTOGRAPHER: I'm Natalie Naccache. I'm a British-Lebanese photographer based in the Middle East.

(inaudible) is about the psychological effects of leaving your homeland in Syria and adapting to a new life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you not happy? I'm not happy because I feel like I have to go to New York, because I have (inaudible) because I don't

have a home to go back to.

NACCACHE: (inaudible) brought together and my subject's personal archives through photographs, through video interviews, the story it all came


UNIDNETIFIED FEMALE: I hope that my kids can (inaudible). I hope they can grow up in Syria like I did, because it's a - it was a very simple life,

but it was just taken. (inaudible) perfect.

NACCACHE: There's (inaudible) desperation to go back to Syria. There's this (inaudible) memories.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll be here in Beirut (ph), because it's closer to my home, because I don't want to lose the identity of being (inaudible).

There's no where to go back to.

I don't want to live in a foreign country. I'm happy here, even if it's unstable.

NACCACHE: These young ladies like Tiana (ph) and Faleh (ph) (inaudible) Syria, Syria just becomes a dream.

UNIDNETIFIED FEMALE: I hope that for the future, you now, I can be in the same country as my parents and have my gives grow up where I grew up with

the same memories.


ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson. That was Connect the World.