Return to Transcripts main page


Trump to End U.S. Insistence on Two-State Solution; Reports, Flynn, Others, Met with Russia During Campaign. 10:00-11:00a ET

Aired February 15, 2017 - 10:00:00   ET


[10:00:14] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: After Michael Flynn's resignation, more claims of Trump campaign contacts with Russia. We sift through the very

latest allegations. All of this happening during a big week for U.S. international policy.

We're live from Jerusalem, as the Israeli prime minister gets set for a White House welcome.

Benjamin Netanyahu brings a clear message with him. All the details and analysis on that are ahead.



ANDERSON: This is a divided city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We live together, but nothing fits.


ANDERSON: Making politics personal. A tram trip here lays bare the tale of two cities in one only on Connect the World.

Hello and welcome to what is a very special edition of Connect the World. It is 5:00 here in Jerusalem, with a roaring show for you tonight. Very


On the ground reporting, global reaction and in-depth analysis. I'm Becky Anderson. Let's get started.

We begin in Washington, a city reeling from breathtaking intelligence revelations about Russian links to Donald Trump's inner circle.

Now, multiple sources tell CNN that several high level advisers, quote, repeatedly made contact with senior Russian intelligence officials during

the presidential campaign, among those advisers, Michael Flynn who quit on Monday as national security adviser.

Joe Johns has more on what is fast becoming a crisis for the administration.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation is what led the president to ask for

General Flynn's resignation.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some key Republicans now joining Democrats, demanding investigations into Michael Flynn and the administration's ties

to Russia.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: We have no idea why Flynn was doing all of this and why he was trying desperately to help Russia. He's not going to

get off that easy. We need some answers to a whole lot of questions.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The intelligence committee is already looking at Russian involvement in our election. It is highly

likely they want to take a look at this.

JOHNS: As the White House reveals that the president knew for weeks about Flynn's calls with Russia. On January 26th, the Justice Department first

warning the White House counsel that intercepted calls show that Flynn misled them, lying about discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador,

making him vulnerable to blackmail. That same day the White House says the president was briefed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president from day one, from minute one, was unbelievably decisive in asking for and demanding that his White House

counsel and their team review the situation.

JOHNS: But the president waited 18 days to demand Flynn's resignation and kept Vice President Pence in the dark the entire time the West Wing was

investigating Flynn's account. Flynn's call to the Russian ambassador happened on the same day President Obama announced new sanctions against

Russia for their cyber-attacks attempting to influence the U.S. election. Weeks later vice president-elect Pence went on national TV defending Flynn

and denying that he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The conversations that took place at that time were not in any way related to new U.S. sanctions

against Russia.

JOHNS: The vice president only finding out that Flynn misled him last week after an explosive "Washington Post" report uncovered the truth, two weeks

after President Trump first learned of it.

Before resigning, Flynn spoke to the conservative website "The Daily Caller," insisting he crossed no lines in his dealings with Russia and

raising questions about who may have leaked details of his calls. President Trump's only public comments on the firestorm this week, a tweet, "The real

story here is why there are so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington. Will these leaks be happening as I deal on North Korea, et cetera?"


ANDERSON: Well, that was Joe Johns. In the past couple of hours, Donald Trump has been tweeting once again, slamming CNN and others as fake news,

he also said, the real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by, quote, intelligence like candy, very un-American,

end quote.

Well, CNN is covering all sides of story, as you would expect. With Athena Jones in Washington. Matthew is in Moscow. Athena, let me start with you.

Blink and you might miss the latest developments in Washington. Thankfully there for us.

Another busy morning. There seems to be real momentum for a probe at this point into all of this, what's going on at the -- inside the White House

and the administration. How likely is that now?

[10:05:22] ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Becky. Well, I would say it's very, very likely. Remember the FBI has been investigating the

possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia since late last year as they've looked into - you know, after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded

that Russia tried to meddle in the U.S. election to help then candidate Donald Trump. So, that's the investigation that was already going on.

Now, former national security adviser Michael Flynn was interviewed by the FBI as part

of that probe, just a few days into this new administration, so within the last month.

Now House and Senate intelligence committees had already started these broader probes looking at Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign, in that

election. And now there are calls the both sides of the aisle, especially on the senate side of the Capitol, for a deepening of that probe and

looking more closely at Michael Flynn's ties to Russia and other potential ties to Russia from Trump aides and associates.

You have not just Democrats, as I mentioned, but even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said it is highly likely that chamber's

intelligence committee will be looking into allegations that Flynn spoke with his Russian - with Russia's ambassador Sergey Kisylak about sanctions

in late December.

Senate number two - the number two Republican in the Senate, among others, have said it is very, very important to get to the bottom of this. So, I

think one of the next big questions, Becky, is going to be what was in those calls between Michael Flynn and the ambassador. That is one of

many, many questions that are still to be answered - Becky.

ANDERSON: And I've got another for you, why is this information only emerging now?

JONES: Well, what's interesting is that the action is happening now. It's emerging because

people are leaking it, people are doing what they have always done. In pretty much every administration, there have people who leak information

that they believe the public should know. And that is what's happening now. And one thing that the White House is being pressed on is why did it

take the president so long to make this move, to ask for his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to hand in his resignation when he was

told weeks ago by the Justice Department that Flynn may not have been forthright about his conversations with Russia's ambassador. And

that that could open him up to blackmail by the Russians, since he was telling the vice

president and others in the administration that he hadn't spoken about sanctions.

And it turns out he has.

So, that is one of the big questions. You know, you have the leaks, but you also have the

fact that it's because of the leaks that the White House was forced to act - Becky.

ANDERSON: It would be a cliche to say there are more questions than answers at the moment, but I'm going to say that, because that is the state

of play in Washington. Thank you for attempting at least to answer some of them. Well done. Thank you.

Matthew, what is the reaction in the political circles where you are in Moscow?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDETN: Well the reaction - I think it's fair to say it's quite a horrified one, as they see this

potential alliance that they thought was going to emerge with Donald Trump and various people around him pretty much start to crumble.

In terms of the allegations specifically that have been made by the New York Times and others about senior intelligence officials meeting with

members of the Trump campaign during and before the election, they've, of course, categorically denied that, the Kremlin saying that it's fake news

and we shouldn't believe it because it's hard to distinguish between real and fake news, somewhat mirroring what Donald Trump himself has said. And

that's interesting, because it's been one of the characteristics of this whole situation, that the Kremlin has been in lockstep with Donald Trump in

terms of what they've said.

That outrage and that concern has been reflected in Russian newspapers as well. One newspaper this morning saying that opponents of Donald Trump are

using this whole spectre of Russia's involvement in U.S. politics, in politics in the United States, to, in their words, crank up hysteria

against Russia. Trump has had his right hand cut off, referring to the resignation of Michael

Flynn, sending in unambiguous message to U.S. officials that attempts to improve the relationship with Russia are fatal for your career.

So, I think that summarizes what the concern is here in Russia, which is that there are a group of people in the United States, Democrats, some

Republicans, members of the security establishment as well, that are hellbent on making sure that Donald Trump does not carry out what they see

as his campaign promise to thaw the relationship with Russia.

And these leaks are coming from a place, this is what Russian papers are saying, what Russian officials are hinting at, these leaks are all coming

from a place and trying to prevent that thaw from taking place.

And so, again, a lot of concern about what - how this will end up, what will develop, what will come out of this chaos in Washington here in


[10:10:23] ANDERSON: Matthew is in Moscow, Athena is in Washington.

As you would expect, CNN covering the story on all sides. Thank you, guys.

Well, as if there is not enough going in the White House already, Mr. Trump will soon be

diving into the Middle East. In less than two hours from now, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to be pull up 1600 Pennsylvania

Avenue. They will be discussing a lot of things, you might expect - Syria, Iran and the like, but with one very big change. A source tells CNN Mr.

Trump will not, repeat, not demand that Israel and the Palestinians figure out a two-state solution.

Oren Liebermann is out and about here in Jerusalem with more on that - Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A major change in some 50 years of U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. and the international

consensus is that a two-state solution. And Israelis say, next to a Palestinian state, is the only way forward here. And that has been

the drive, the thrust of the international efforts.

So, to say that the U.S. no longer insists on this policy is a major change there. But a senior White House official speaking on background also said

the U.S. is open to any other suggestions that both sides, the Israelis and Palestinians, would agree to.

Palestinian leaders immediately rejected that, saying there is no other alternative. It has to be a two-state solution on Israel and the


The only other option, and this comes from PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashwari, is a one-state solution. And she asks the Trump

administration, what's that going to look like? Will that really be Israelis and Palestinians with equal rights, or is that Israelis have the

rights and Palestinians don't - an apartheid state?

She wants clarification there from the Trump administration's Middle East policy. And it's not just Palestinians there.

It seems that Middle East policy hasn't yet been forumlated. And that may be something Prime Minister Benjamin Netanahu is trying to influence here

in his first meeting now that President Trump has taken office.

Netanyahu has made it clear, he wants to focus on Iran. That's not what we're waiting to see. We're waiting to see what ideas, what statements

come out, on the conflict, on a two-state solution. That will be incredibly interesting and very closely watched, Becky.

ANDERSON: Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem as well for you this evening. Thank you, Oren.

Malaysian police have arrested a woman in connection with the death of Kim Jong-un's half-brother. Cars with North Korean diplomatic plates were seen

leaving a Kuala Lumpur mortuary on Wednesday where Kim Jong-nam's body is believed to be undergoing an autopsy.

Saima Mohsin has more from Kuala Lumpur.


SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A mysterious murder right out of the pages of an old-school spy novel. The target Kim

Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korea's notorious dictator, Kim Jong-un.

It's here at Kuala Lumpur International Airport's Terminal 2 where Kim Jong-nam is believed to have been due to board a plane to Macau when, in a

bold attack in full public view, he was murdered by poison. That's according to South Korean intelligence officials who also say the primary

suspects were two Asian women caught on CCTV fleeing by taxis.

KIM BYUNG-KEE, SOUTH KOREA INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE (via translator): Malaysian investigation authorities are tracking them down and it looks

like they have not escaped the country yet.

MOHSIN (voice-over): One airport official told me the airport has thousands of CCTV cameras, footage that Malaysia police say was key to the arrest of

a 28-year-old female suspect at the airport holding Vietnamese travel documents. They gave no further details on the arrest, and so far

authorities have said little about the attack itself.

An official told CNN, after the alleged attack, Kim was taken to this medical center where staff was willing to disclose further information to

me. Kim was then sent to the nearest hospital. He died en route.

The South Korean intelligence official says Kim was headed home to the Chinese territory of Macau where he's lived on and off with his family for

the past decade. A gambling hub, he was spotted dining at one of the city's ritzy hotels just over a week ago.

Once tipped by North Korea watchers as a possible future leader, Kim reportedly fell out with his father, Kim Jong-il, after getting caught

using a forged visa to try to visit Tokyo Disneyland in 2001. He told a Japanese journalist he'd never met his half-brother and didn't think he

would succeed as North Korea's leader.

[10:15:08] KIM JONG-NAM, HALF BROTHER OF KIM JONG-UN (via translator): Personally, I oppose the hereditary succession for three generations.

MOHSIN (voice-over): Outside the morgue in Kuala Lumpur, a car with a North Korean flag and diplomatic plate has been parked all day as investigators

wait for details of an autopsy.


ANDERSON: Well, Saima Mohsin reporting for you. This is Connect the World. We are live for you in Jerusalem. At just about a quarter past

5:00. And we are watching what really is a defining story of our time, connecting the world for you in the way that only this network can.

Up next, we will bring in former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni. Soon after that, the view from the Palestinian side. We are talking

Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting, upcoming meeting in Washington with Donald Trump, the new U.S. president and what that means for Middle East peace

going forward. Stay right here on CNN.


ANDERSON: It is 18 minutes past 5:00 and what you are looking at is the golden Dome of the Rock, sitting on Temple Mount, also known to Arabs as

the Noble Sanctuary, and also a site that sits on the the Aqsa mosque also for you this evening, of course.

Of course, we are here in Jerusalem, for what is an important day. Before we move on, let's get you up to speed, though, with new bombshells coming

out of the White House overnight. We are learning that high level advisers to then presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant contact

with Russians known to U.S. intelligence before the inauguration.

Flynn was one of those high level advisers,along with the then campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Now, U.S. intelligence agencies are trying to figure out the primary motive for the communications. Manafort denies the allegations.

Well, the political fallout of the resignation of one of Mr. Trump's closest foreign policy advisers will surely have an impact in places like

Jerusalem where we are coming from you this evening. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump pledged be a great friend to Israel, and that he

would succeed where other world leaders have failed working for the big deal, peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the conflict whose

resolution has puzzled presidents past.

I went out to find out what the people who live here reckon the new American president might mean for them and the Middle East.


ANDERSON: This is Damascus Gate and through it the old city of Jerusalem.

Now, the gate was built by the Ottomans in 1537, on top of what was an entry to the city,

erected by the Romans back in Emperor Hadrian's day.

In recent years, the gate has become a flashpoint, the scene of violent attacks, mainly on Israeli police, leading to heightened security.

Nevertheless, in this, the eastern part of the city life goes on.

The prime minister of Israel is in Washington. What do you think he's going to think he's going to achieve there, if anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm 61-years-old. You hear the same old prime minister in the state, the same offering, nothing gets changed.

ANDERSON: What do you mean by that? What do you mean nothing changes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of them, they promised to solve the problem of the Palestinian two-state. You hear that all the time.

ANDERSON: Are you optimistic about a solution for Jerusalem and for peace here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Solution, I don't think so. No, solution (inaudible). If (inaudible) Palestine not get Jerusalem and the most I don't think you

have solution in Jerusalem.

ANDERSON: This is a divided city, an issue that sits at the very heart of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. A short ride on the tram

takes us from east to west for a different perspective.

This is the famous Jaffa Road, which led to the old city of Jerusalem pointing traders and travelers to the port of Jaffa and the Mediterranean

Sea. Well, today, it is the heart of the west and (inaudible) market which is just up here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's such a farce. There's no chance for a two-state solution.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though I would like to see it, it's just not going to happen?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's impossible geographically today to divide the land into how it was intended to be, initially.

ANDERSON: What do you think a win for Israel is? Is that a two-state solution?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we, the both, the Palestinian and Israelis want to be, to live together - we live together but not in peace - but if we want

to live together in peace, I think that Mr. Trump and Mr. Bibi Netanyahu can get together a good solution for that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He believes in what we are meaning, what meaning...

ANDERSON: What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth is with us. The truth is with us. We want peace. We want a real peace. But I hope that the other side will

understand this.

ANDERSON: A search for understanding, a search for a solution. In the pursuit of an

elusive peace in this decades long conflict.


ANDERSON: So some different perspectives there. Not everybody has given up on a two-state solution, including my next guest, former Israeli foreign

minister Tsipi Livni who soon after taking the role on in 2006 told the The New York Times, quote, "I believe, like my parents, in the right of the

Jewish people to the entire land of Israel," while going on to say that she also believes in democracy, telling The Times, "but choosing between my

dreams and my need to live in democracy, I prefer to give up some of the lands."

Tzipi is with me now.

And a source tells CNN Mr. Trump is taking Washington's long-time insistence of a two-state solution off the table.

Now, if that is really the case, a senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization thinks he needs to spell out an alternative,

because, quote, "a one-state solution would require equal rights and citizenship for all unless he is advocating an apartheid state."

What is the alternative to a two-state solution to your mind?

TZIPI LIVNI, FRM. ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: I believe that the good news is that President Trump wants to make the deal. He believes in peace. So,

the only way, according to my understanding, to achieve peace between us and the Palestinians and the entire Arab world is based on the idea of two

states for two peoples, that each state gives an answer to national aspiration of different people.

ANDERSON: Right but sources are certainly telling CNN that that two-state solution is off the table as far as Washington is concerned.

LIVNI: This is not what I understood. It said that he wants to achieve peace, the two state solution is not maybe the only solution. And from my

perspective, it's very good to explore all the options. My understanding is that for those who really want to achieve peace, and I believe that

President Trump wants to achieve peace, this is the only solution, because the other solution, as was said, one state between Jordan River and

Mediterranean Sea.

[10:25:02] ANDERSON: Is it an apartheid state?

LIVNI: Or binational state. It would not give my vision the possibility to be created here in Israel as a Jewish democratic state.

ANDERSON: One of the strongest backers of the settlement movement is the Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett, of course, who declared after

Mr. Trump was elected, the era of the Palestinian State is over.

The leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party wants Israel to annex large parts of the West Bank. He's ready to introduce a bill to declare Israeli

sovereignty over one of the biggest settlements. The right-wing in Israel will be further emboldened, won't it, if Benjamin Netanyahu is to come back

from Washington and say I didn't use, nor did Mr. Trump, the two words Palestinian State.

LIVNI: I believe that this is the time for Israel to decide what we want. And I have a huge dispute - there is a huge dispute between me and what I

represent and Naftali Bennett, the Jewish home. For them, the major issue is the land of Israel, and for me it's the state of Israel, the Jewish

democratic state living in peace with its neighbors, and therefore I believe that for those supporting Israel, the state of Israel, those who

want to live here in peace, they need to embrace the solution of two states.

ANDERSON: And Tzipi, how concerned are you about -- and tell me, what do you think the consequences would be if a two-state solution were taken off

the table? We are hearing from the Palestinian side, in fact this hour, we will hear live from the Palestinian side - how concerned are you. What are

the consequences of that?

LIVNI: I am concerned. You know, I'm not in politics in order to create a Palestinian state, I'm in politics in order to keep Israel as a Jewish

democratic state and two states for two people.

ANDERSON: You're not in politics to run or be part of an apartheid state. What are the consequences of taking two state solution off the table?

LIVNI: Exactly. So the whole idea is to divide the land, even though it's tough, and have two different states for two different peoples.

ANDERSON: You're not answer the question. What's the consequence of taking it off the table?

LIVNI: An apartheid state is not an option for me. It's against my values as - believing in democracy and also against our Jewish values. And,

therefore, this is a huge debate that it is (inaudible). It's not only between us and the Palestinians, the Israeli society, the Israeli

leadership needs to decide where we are going. And when we speak about an American president supporting Israel, I believe that supporting the

division of the land and supporting the idea of two states for two peoples represent the interests of Israel.

ANDERSON: What is the potential for further insecurity and conflict were Netanyahu to come back with this one state solution as a means to peace?

Because that would be a very provocative move, wouldn't it?

LIVNI: But I don't think that's where we are. As I said before, the good news is that President Trump is really talking about peace. So, the

meaning of peace is trying to achieve peace between the sides.

ANDERSON: We don't know yet, do we?

LIVNI: It's too early to know. And since there's - in order to achieve peace, you need for both sides to sign and to end the conflict. I believe

that in the end, we will come back, after exploring other options, maybe, and that's okay, it's legitimate, I believe that in

the end we would come back to the idea of two states two two peoples.

But it's OK to think outside of the box. But I have been there, I've done that. And this is why I believe that in the end we would find ourselves

again negotiating the two state solution.

ANDERSON: Mr. Netanyahu's goal we were told perhaps main goal of this visit ahead of what now feels like will be the main headline out of this

was to marshal support, as it were, American support, for his vision of the Iran nuclear deal, enforcing it, if not getting rid of it, enforcing it,

let's put it that way.

How important is that to the Israeli government at this point?

LIVNI: Iran is a threat, but not only a threat to Israel. It destabilize the region. Iran supports terror, and therefore this is not only an

Israeli issue, not only a threat to Israel. And I believe in now putting this on the table, and having the mutual interest of the U.S. and Israel

coming to as part of, you know, discussion...

ANDERSON: So, do you expect the resignation of Michael Flynn to be a difficult one for Benjamin Netanyahu. He was a real hawk when it came to

Iran, of course. It's pretty chaotic in Washington, a different atmosphere than perhaps Bibi Netanyahu thought he was going into last week when he

thought about this visit.

LIVNI: I believe that it's not a right thing from my perspective to (inaudible) issue in the American administration. And I believe that the

Israeli prime minister needs to deal with any American president and administration. And in the end, as I said before, it was with Democratic

administration and president and with Republican and all together the idea of trying to achieve peace, the idea of fighting altogether, and the idea

of two states for two peoples represents all the administration because this was a shared interest.

And the only implementation of the shared values of the Israel and the U.S., and therefore I believe that in the end we will find ourselves in the

same situation, and frankly, this is something I say here to the Israelis, our responsibility is to deal with and to decide what are the Israeli

interests and since our interest is to keep Israel a Jewish democratic state, we need to embrace and promote the two state for two peoples as a

vision and as the plan.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

LIVNI: Thank you.

ANDERSON: We're going to get you caught up on the rest of the world news headlines next.

Plus, there is still so much more to get through right here in Jerusalem. Do not go away. We're taking this break back after this.



[10:34:49] ANDERSON: Well, back to our top story this hour, Donald Trump's alleged ties to

Russia long haunted his campaign and now his administration. Jim Sciutto reports on how lawmakers on Capitol Hill are reacting to Michael Flynn's



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's resignation is raising new questions about

the Trump administration's ties to Moscow. In particular, when Flynn spoke with the Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions, was he acting on orders

from higher up?

SEN. LINDSET GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Did Gen. Flynn do this by himself? If he didn't do it by himself, who directed him to engage the Russians?

SCIUTTO: And did any direction go as high as the president himself?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It certainly begs the question of whether Flynn was doing exactly what the president

wanted, whether with the president's knowledge, with the president's approval.

SCIUTTO: Today, White House Spokesman Sean Spicer said emphatically no.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, absolutely not. No, no, no. But that -- no.

SCIUTTO: Still the FBI is now leading multiple investigations of current and former Trump advisers and ties to Russia, including a yearlong

investigation of former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and his alleged connections to pro-Putin figures in Ukraine and alleged meetings

between former Trump adviser Carter Paige and Russian individuals under U.S. sanctions. Manafort and Paige have denied any wrongdoing.

The FBI also continues to investigate a 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent alleging that Russia has compromising

personal and financial information about Donald Trump.

CNN was first to report on Friday the intelligence agencies have now corroborated aspects of the dossier, specifically calls between Russian

officials and other Russian nationals known by U.S. intelligence for sharing information damaging to Hillary Clinton and helpful to Donald


Former top Obama adviser Ben Rhodes tweeting today, "When campaign chairman and national security adviser both resign over Russia ties there is more.

Manafort and Flynn had nothing in common except Russia and Trump."

President Trump for his part continues to make public statements seemingly defending Vladimir Putin, telling Fox News he respects the Russian leader

earlier this month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin is a killer.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: A lot of killers. A lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent?

SCIUTTO: Today, the White House said the president is in fact tough on Russia, even if the statements are coming from staff other than himself.

SPICER: His ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, stood before the U.N. Security Council on her first day and strongly denounced the Russian

occupation of Crimea.

SCIUTTO: The president certainly being given multiple opportunities to call out Russia for aggressive action, Russia deploying a new, more

advanced cruise missile, which the U.S. sees as violating an existing U.S.- Russia missile treaty. You have a Russian spy ship now sitting off the coast of Delaware, several close passes as well by Russian aircraft of the

U.S. warship in the Black Sea. And yet still no public criticism of those moves from the president.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


ANDERSON: All right, in just over an hour from now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the White House for a meeting with U.S.

President Donald Trump. It is a very busy week for the U.S. president.

He voiced passionate support for Israel and Mr. Netanyahu in the lead-up to the election.


TRUMP: When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second- class citizen will end on day one.


ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Donald Trump is considering, we are told, moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a move certain to anger the

Palestinians as will today's news from a White House source saying Mr. Trump will not insist on a two-state solution.

Dan Shapiro was the U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama. He worked with Mr. Netanyahu and has long been involved in the Middle East

peace process. He joins us now from Tel Aviv. And, sir, thank you for doing this.

Turmoil in Washington, how will that affect how Mr. Netanyahu gets on with this new administration? For example, the demise of Michael Flynn, who was

a hawk on Iran, that would have suited Mr. Netanyahu, wouldn't it?

DAN SHAPIRO, FRM. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Well, I think the events over the last several days, and the resignation of General Flynn and the sheer

turmoil that the White House continues to be engulfed in cannot help but cause great distraction from the meeting that President Trump and Prime

Minister Netanyahu are about to begin.

And it seems unlikely to me it's going to produce major decisions rather it might produce some general direction for future staff work and then maybe a

second meeting within a couple of months.

General Flynn, in fact, had met on three separate occasions with the prime minister's most senior advisers precisely to prepare for this meeting. A

think a lot of those preparations were likely around the issue of Iran on which there's probably still strong agreement, but they want to toughen

sanctions against Iran with respect to the ballistic missile programs, with respect to Iran's other aggressive actions like weapons shipments and

sponsorship of terrorist organizations in the region, but not to dismantle the Iran nuclear deal.

I actually think they can reach an agreement on that, but a lot of very valueable hours of preparation were spent with General Flynn and he's not

there to brief the president and participate in this meeting.

ANDERSON: and in fact we're not sure who will be in attendance as of yet.

If Mr. Trump's vision for peace, as we are told, by sources now does not include a two-state solution, that would suit Benjamin Netanyahu's right-

wing coalition here. What would the consequences, though, of that message being brought back to Washington be to this place here, to Jerusalem, and

the wider Israel and Palestine?

SHAPIRO: Well, I'm not at all sure that the United States is abandoning the two-state solution so quickly. You know, after President Trump was

elected, there were people in Israel and elsewhere, who reacting to some of his advisers and reacting to some of his statements during the campaign,

suspected and reacted as if there would be a massive seachange in U.S. policy, no longer seeking a two-state solution, supporting, or at least not

opposing the building of settlements throughout the West Bank, perhaps allowing Israel to annex parts of the West Bank after moving the U.S.

embassy to Jerusalem.

And what we saw progressively during the transition, and then in the three or four weeks since the inauguration, we have seen a lot of statements

coming out of the Trump administration that are reverting back to a more traditional U.S. policy that reflect U.S. interest

to support Israel, of course, and its security, but also to support its search for peace.

Now, last night, they said that they're not insisting that a two-state solution be the only definition of Middle East peace, but it would have to

be something that both sides would agree to.

And they have also talked about trying to entice Sunni Arab states, who are strategic allies

against of Israel again Iran and against ISIS and others in the region, to participate more in this exercise.

It seems to me that it won't take but a few conversations with Palestinians and with those other Arab leaders to determine that a two-state solution

remains necessary as the guiding principle of these efforts. It's not easy. I know very well that we've made many - we have tried for many years

to advance that goal without success.

But I can't think of another organizing principle that would have Israelis and Palestinians and other Arab partners, both of them, be willing to

really put forth the effort.

ANDERSON: Appreciate your time, sir, on what is an important day. Thank you.

Live from Jerusalem I'm Becky Anderson. This is Connect the World.

Just ahead, the Palestinian perspective on these high stakes talks today in Washington. We'll speak to a senior adviser to the Palestinian Authority

president. Stay with us.


[10:45:32] ANDERSON: It's a quarter to 6:00 in Jerusalem, you're watching CNN and a special Connect the World for you. Welcome back.

Not much has gone right for President Donald Trump, has it, since he moved into the White House. And many of new administration's troubles can be

linked back to Russia. We are now learning that high level advisers to then presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant contact with

Russians, known to U.S. intelligence before the inauguration.

Flynn was one of those high level advisers along with then campaign chairman Paul Manafort. U.S. intelligence agencies are now trying to

figure out the primary motive for the communications.

Manafort denies the allegations.

Well, of course, as we get more on that as we get it.

Now, two states, living side by side in peace, one Israeli one Palestinian, for decades that's been the bedrock of international efforts to end one of

the longest running conflicts in the world.

But we could soon witness a groundbreaking shift in U.S. policy. A senior White House official tells CNN that President Trump will not insist on a

two-state solution when he meets with Israel's prime minister. If two states are no longer the main goal for one of the main brokers in this

conflict, and Israel continues expanding its settlements, where does that leave

Palestinian dreams of statehood.

Well, I'm joined now by a senior adviser to the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, Husam Zomlot, is live for you in the West Bank.

If the U.S. and Israel do not explicitly back Palestinian statehood, what are the options for Palestinians going forward?

HUSAM ZOMLOT, SENIOR ADVISER PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT: Well, we the Palestinians and with us the international community, it's the consensus of

the international community for many, many decades, as you say, are really much closer to achieving Palestinian State hood, to achieving the end of

Israel's occupation, the end of the conflict, then all those who want to see a different scenario.

I mean the majority of the Palestinian people are supporting the two-state solution, the majority of the Israelis are supporting the two-state

solution, the rest of the world has been confirmed in the UN security council only a few weeks ago, has a consensus on the two-state solution.

And the controls of the solution.

And let me, Becky, if you will allow me, to start by saying that, in fact it took us so many years until President Reagan put a condition on us, the

Palestinians, to abandon our dream of a one democratic egalitarian state for all, for Jews and Muslims and Christians, and we accepted the Reagan

administration condition and conceded painfully on 78 percent of the land and allied ourselves with the U.S. And ever since then, the U.S. has been

the sole broker of achieving the two-state solution. And therefore, this is...

ANDERSON: Right. But the point is this, we haven't got a solution at the moment. Sorry, let me jump in here, because you say that you feel that you

are closer than ever to a solution and yet it -- there is a potential for the carpet to be pulled from beneath the possibility of a two-state

solution, as of yet, if sources close to CNN are to be believed.

Would you concede, as many Palestinians themselves suggest, that it is the leadership, it is

those who were brokering the deal who are to blame on the Palestinian side, as much perhaps as the Israelis, for not having found a solution yet.

ZOMLOT: I don't think you can blame really the Palestinian leadership. I mean to start with a

compromise of 78 percent of what the Palestinians consider to be their own historic Palestine was

a very historic compromise, aligning ourselves with the U.S. policy was a very thoughtful decision by the Palestinians,

And then the one who signed the Oslo peace process was President Abbas, who is still with us. The one who has defended the foundations of the peace

process is still with us. The things that changed has been in Israel.

All those who pushed for peace on the Israeli side have died, and the ones who took over, particularly Prime Minister Netanyahu and his very right-

wing extreme coalition are the ones who are trying now against the majority of us and the Israeli people and the international community to reframe the

conflict and convince us that there is no tomorrow.

No, we believe there is tomorrow. And we believe that, you know, the aspirations, the righteous aspirations of people who believe in

international legitimacy and international consensus.

[10:50:14] ANDERSON: So, Husam, I guess the question is simply this, if president - if the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu returns here without

uttering the world Palestinian State in Washington, if we hear from a Trump administration they believe that is not

the only solution out there, and this satisfies the more right wing of the politicians and the ideology here in Israel, what do you think the

consequences might be going forward? I'm thinking about security and the potential for conflict, because this would be a provocative move, correct?

ZOMLOT: Well, we are not really anticipating anything from Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister has been very clear about his agenda and his agenda

is precisely to deliver a little blow against any solution by the way for that matter.

He is interesting in an unsolution era whereby he just finished off his ideological belief that all of us, the 6 million Palestinians, should

vanish into thin air, or an apartheid regime could be erected as it is the case by the way.

What we are anticipating, however, is President Trump's remarks after today's meeting. And that would be very crucial and we are hoping that

President Trump is going to deliver his new vision. He says that he wants to reach the ultimate deal. He wants to achieve peace. He said, he

complained about Israel only a few days ago that there is no land left, so obviously President Trump understands that this is a land issue and this is

a two-state solution the settlements are anti-peace, or are not helping in the cause of peace.

However, we are following all of that. And we are not without options, my friend. We have so many options here and the first of foremost of all that

we are here to stay, and regardless of the institutions arrangements above our heads we do have political and civil rights that are legitimate and are

enshrined in international law.

ANDERSON: We're going to leave it there, but we absolutely thank you for your time out of

Ramallah today, helping us provide some nuance in what is a very complicated and important story. Thank you.

A lot to take in, then, this hour.

We're going to wrap it up for you next. Taking a very short break. Back after this.


ANDERSON: Right, you're watching CNN. This is Connect the World out of Jerusalem this hour.

Our top story this hour, advisers to Donand Trump during his presidential campaign was said to be in constant contact with Russia. And sources say

those advisers include both former campaign chair Paul Manafort and then adviser Michael Flynn, those reports from CNN from current and former

officials in law enforcement, in intelligence and in the administration.

Manafort is denying those claims. The Kremlin also dismisses the allegations saying it's based on anonymous sources, not facts.

And Donald Trump writes on Twitter, the reports are nonsense and conspiracy theories.

Well, it's safe to say that what we are seeing out of Washington, D.C. is unprecedented, certainly unusual, and it has many American friends

wondering about the nature of their dealings with the new White House.

In just around an hour, Isreali prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will arrive at the White House for a meeting with Donald Trump.

To talk more about how Israel views Mr. Trump and his America, I'm joined once again by our Oren Liebermann who is on the streets of Israel.

And Oren, just what did Mr. Netanyahu expect to get out of this meeting. And what do we understand now that he might take away?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is about resetting the relationship between the Israeli leader and the U.S. leader and the

Israeli leader. We know and we saw the relationship deteriorate so quickly at the end between Obama and Netanyahu.

This meeting, at the beginning of it is, about the optics. Crucially, the statement that's coming from these leaders is before the meeting, so it's

before they talk about anything substantial. They want to show both of their constituencies in both of their countries that this is a new

relationship. IT's off to a strong start. It's off to a fresh start.

Now, the Israeli right-wing and many of the politicians here, especially the settlers were very excited by Presidnet Trump's election based on his

campaign statements. His view was very much in line with what they wanted, that has changed. Netanyahu will be trying to figure out what is Trump's

Middle East policy.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Oren.

And as we close out this hour on CNN, let's have a listen to what Donald Trump has been discussing in Washington with some visitors to the White

House. Let's just listen in. This was just moments ago.