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Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital; Massive Wildfires Ravaging Southern California; Trump's Jerusalem Decision Met with Protests; California Wildfires Rage Out of Control; Trump Jr. Not Talking. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired December 7, 2017 - 00:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:16] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay, live in Los Angeles.

Two major breaking news stories right now.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause in Los Angeles.

Just behind me, the neighborhood of Bel Air, one of three major fire zones across southern California. And as expected the winds have started to pick up. They're forecast to strengthen in the coming hours bringing fears that the worst may be yet to come.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Becky Anderson in Jerusalem, a city U.S. President Donald Trump now recognizes as the capital of Israel. It's a decision that many call a threat to Middle East peace.

Palestinian leaders are calling for a general strike and another day of protests against Donald Trump's decision. Demonstrators marched through the streets of Gaza on Wednesday. Arab leaders condemned the move predicting extremist holy wars and an end to the Middle East peace process.

Mr. Trump insists he remains committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians reach a peace agreement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. So today we call for calm, for moderation and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Trump has ordered the State Department to start preparations to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem although that will take years.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on other countries to follow the U.S. lead but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the announcement would lead the region into wars that will never end. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We are profoundly grateful for the President for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the U.S. embassy. This decision reflects the President's commitment to an ancient but enduring truth to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.

MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN LEADER (through translator): Salutation to all brave captives and to our injured people who have sacrificed themselves for the sake of Palestine and Jerusalem. Long live Palestine. Long live Jerusalem, the free, eternal and Arabic capital of the state of Palestine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, joining me now from Los Angeles CNN national security analyst, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. And Gayle, a highly controversial news, on the face of it roundly supported by Israelis and roundly condemned by Palestinians and the wider Arab world. Do you consider it unnecessarily provocative?

In the short term, how risky a move is this in terms of firstly Israel's security and stability?

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that is the real question. The next 24 to 48 hours I think will tell us a lot.

But from Washington's perspective it was not a risky move, right? From the Trump perspective this is what he campaigned upon. He had intended to do it from the start and there were a lot of Arab leaders who pleaded with him to please don't do this. But really there was not a lot of surprise in that Trump promise he would do this and he has really made clear from the start that this was his intention.

ANDERSON: Warnings from not just the Palestinians but this wider Middle East from the Arab world here of chaos on the back of this, are linked to the Middle East peace process. For U.S. assets and staff around the region, how big a worry is that?

LEMMON: I think it's a real worry. The State Department immediately set up a task force, right? It is on the record that both Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson were not in favor of the move.

And think about Secretary Mattis, who very much has his hands full, right? Jordan which had really urged the President not to make this move is one of the key allies in counter terror with the United States. There's a lot of work military to military on this.

So there is a lot of concern I think inside the bureaucracy both at Foggy Bottom and to some extent at the Pentagon. But there was not a lot of sense that this was a huge surprise.

[00:05:01] ANDERSON: Longer term, this move by Donald Trump to reverse years of successive U.S. governments resisting pressure to enflame tensions in this region by implementing this Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 might not be anything more than symbolic. And it may come at a very high price for Benjamin Netanyahu.

What sort of concessions might Washington now seek to exact from the Israeli government?

LEMMON: What's fascinating is, right, you put Jerusalem right there out at the start which had always been used as a tool for potential concessions, right? But I think what the Washington move did was really to take de facto reality and turn it into stated policy.

And as that goes, as that transition actually happens, there are a lot of questions to be answered including how the region reacts. It seems that the Gulf nations actually have their hands full so what will we hear from them on this?

And then also the question of just, you know, will there be more moves to curb settlements from the Israeli side or does Israel really feel like it has most of what it wants? And it has a partner who's not willing to pursue too much and so you know doesn't have to do very much.

And we don't know the answers to that but they're all very key questions in the coming days.

ANDERSON: Gayle, out of south of Los Angeles for you today -- we very much appreciate that. Thank you.

Let's get you away from here and to Istanbul now where CNN's producer Gul Tuysuz is standing by for you. And Gul ahead of this announcement by the President we heard from his counterpart in Turkey President Erdogan that the move of this embassy would be a red line and will cause chaos around this region.

What is the atmosphere like where you are at this point?

GUL TUYSUZ, CNN PRODUCER: Well Becky -- last night as the announcement was being anticipated and afterwards when it was announced we were outside of the Istanbul-U.S. consulate. There a couple of hundred people, pious Muslims had gathered in anticipation of the announcement and there they found out that President Trump had gone ahead and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

And to tell you how the crowd changed from while they were waiting to the announcement to afterwards you could see as the announcement was made they started booing him. And then leaders there started a prayer for the future of Palestine.

And you could really see how tense this was that this was something that was doe by the U.S. President that took not into account any of the feelings of the Arabs or the Muslims that live in the region.

And very quickly thereafter you could hear the chants "Damn the U.S.A. Damn Israel. United States get out of the Middle East." So very much a change from the before and after of the announcement. ANDERSON: The story out of Istanbul in Turkey for you. Thank you for

that.

John -- the Trump administration casts this move as a recognition of reality that Jerusalem has long been the seat of the Israeli government. His detractors say it is the most dangerous decision that any U.S. President has ever taken. Silencing the moderate voice in this region and giving power to extremists.

The truth lies somewhere in between. A highly risky and provocative move which many, many here in this region now say needs to be supported by a simultaneous effort to restart peace negotiations before the streets in the Middle East entirely gives up.

Back to you.

VAUSE: Thank you -- Becky. And in between that landmark day for the U.S. President Donald Trump he did take time to send a message to the fire crews who are battling these blazes across southern California; also advised everyone to follow the orders of local officials as well.

But right now, it's all about the return of the Santa Ana winds. Over the next few hours and into Thursday they're expecting wind gusts up to 70 maybe 80 miles per hour. And authorities say it's just impossible to fight a fire in those type of conditions.

Just behind me right to the west here, over that ridge is the Bel Air neighborhood -- one of the many fire zones cross southern California. That's where the Bel Air neighborhood is -- a very exclusive, very expensive Bel Air neighborhood.

[00:09:56] That fire we believe is about 5 percent contained but a few hours ago, fire crews did manage to stop its progress but not before it spread across hundreds of acres and destroyed or damaged a number of homes.

Our Sara Sidner is there. She joins us now live with the very latest. And Sara -- we can feel that wind. It is now starting to pick up and it's going to get a lot worse.

What is happening where you are?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is why there are fire trucks that are still here outside two homes that burned here in the hills of Bel Air. You see one of them just there behind me and you can see just how ferocious this fire was because this used to be a two-story beautiful home here in Bel Air and it is destroyed.

Just next to it they were trying to save the house next to it which is in darkness now. That house also caught fire, some of the embers jumping and the big scare is, if you take a look a little bit, the trees are starting to blow. It was only going about 5 to 10 miles an hour for several hours today which really helped firefighters get a handle on it.

But now these winds are starting up again. And that has everyone concerned.

And we should mention this is one of the smaller of the four fires that have been burning here. This is only about 575 acres which means that the other fires that are burning some of them -- one of them, the Thomas fire -- we are talking in Ventura about 90,000 acres.

So there are so many people that are affected by this not just here but in several other parts of southern California. A very difficult situation but they're still doing air drops en in the darkness -- John.

VAUSE: Just going to the next thing -- ok. I'll do a little tap dance here and I'll go later.

Well this is the fire which began early Wednesday morning. It jumped the 405 freeway and then quickly spread. It was incredible to see those images of cars driving by; hillsides which were essentially surrounded by a wall o4 flames. It was one of those incredible images which had to be seen to be believed.

This is also an area where people like Rupert Murdoch of 20th Century Fox, have a sprawling estate. His vineyard was ordered to evacuate. There was some damage to the property. Not a lot but just like 40,000 other people in this part of Los Angeles everyone in that vineyard was told to leave. It was a mandatory evacuation.

Among those who also had to leave their homes Frederica Waldman. She lives not far from the famed Getty Museum which is not far from here.

Frederica -- I understand that you're with us now. Tell us when you saw those flames and you were told to leave what were you thinking? And have you got any idea at this point how long you may be out of you home?

FELICIA WALDMAN, RESIDENT: Hi John. My name is Felicia Waldman. And yes it was -- it's been an absolutely just harrowing day for my family. We were jolted out of bed at 6:00 a.m. by two friends calling us to look out our backyard which overlooks the 405, the Getty Center and a lot of Bel Air crest which is actually on fire right now. And the flames were right in our backyard, you know.

It was just incredibly scary because yesterday the fires were burning north of us and the smell was intense all over Los Angeles. Everybody's just dying from the smell of fire. And schools have been canceled as a result.

But looking out in our backyard we started to panic and we just started grabbing things. And we didn't know -- we had to wake our kids and I have a small dog and I have two 11-year-olds -- I'm sorry, one 11-year-old and two 17-year-olds. And you know I had to tell them to basically pack a bag and we have to leave.

And it's just been a scariest day of our life. I mean we feel very lucky that nothing has happened yet but like you were just saying the wind forecast is completely scaring us because it's apparently going to be unprecedented winds and anything can happen at this point because we're still very close to the fires.

So we're just crossing our fingers and praying. You know there's nothing we can do at this point. It's very scary. We've known people that have lost homes and the fires are just -- you can't even imagine.

(CROSSTALKING)

SESAY: Felicia -- sorry to interrupt -- this is Isha here in the studio. We're having a few technical issues with John who's out there in the field. So I'm going to pick up our conversation as you describe what you and your family have been going through these past few hours.

[00:14:52] You were just talking about having to wake your kids up and packing a bag and having to basically run. Tell us about the journey. Tell us about getting in the car. Walk us through what happened next.

[00:15:02] WALDMAN: Well apparent -- you know, first we weren't sure if it was an evacuation. We didn't know until we were actually walking out of our house and they said that it was mandatory. The flames were really close to our house and I mean, you know, I hate to say luckily because I know that at least four -- I think maybe they said 11 homes were lost.

And you know it's hard to feel lucky when you're just so devastatingly sad for people who have lost their homes and the fear running through us all day of what's going to happen. I mean we had a few moments where we thought things were calming down but now we're hearing the weather report about the wind that's coming between now and Saturday.

And anything can happen at this point so we actually -- they -- we were able to come home again for a short while and you know we grabbed a few more things but I mean really when it comes down to it, it's just our family that we care about and our photo and you know there's nothing else you can do. Everything could be replaced but it's just devastating.

I wanted to check on an elderly neighbor. I wanted to make sure that, you know, that she was aware of the evacuation and I guess apparently she is. But it's just really scary right now.

The wind is absolutely roaring. We keep hearing the airplanes and helicopters going by. I mean I guess they're doing water drops and surveying the situation but it's definitely just been a crazy day and at the same on a side note I know this is on international CNN but if could thank these hundreds of people that have reached out to me and offered their homes and their support and their love and they're considerate. You know, just caring about us and hoping we're ok.

It's just been, you know, on that end it's just been incredible. But you know it's just a very, very scary day all around. And our dog you know we were able to make sure that we took food for our dog and you know it is really just crazy when you think about what do I need to bring?

SESAY: Absolutely. WALDMAN: What's -- you know? When I come home tomorrow if my house

is not hear, what are the things in my car you know that are going to be meaningful?

SESAY: I think that's the conversations we have been having all day. You know, if that moment ever comes -- what do you take with you? You know life is the most precious thing but what do you grab in that moment when you have that chance?

WALDMAN: Exactly --

SESAY: Felicia --

WALDMAN: And it just makes you feel so unprepared and --

SESAY: Yes.

WALDMAN: -- you know, it makes me think that you know luckily, hopefully, you know, I'm praying that we come home to our house either tomorrow or the next day but in the -- unlikelihood that it's gone you've just -- if it's still standing, you know, I'm really going to be sure go to go through all of our stuff and have a ready bag or box of all of my favorite things that I would just be devastated to lose and you know?

I just don't know what the future holds for us but we're just going to pray and hope for the best and you know hope that the winds are not as challenging as they say they're going to be.

SESAY: Well, Felicia -- we are going to be praying right alongside here for you and all those affected by these fires. I know these are really such tough times to be going to be through. The next couple of hours are going to be rough. So, you know, our thoughts and prayers are with you and all those affected by these blazes.

We're going to check in with you and see, you know, how things are in the hours ahead and how you guys are holding up.

WALDMAN: Sure -- sure.

SESAY: So you take care, you and the family.

WALDMAN: All right. Thank you so much.

SESAY: Speak to you soon.

WALDMAN: That's all anybody can do is keep good thoughts and hope for the best.

SESAY: Yes, yes. We'll be sending lots your way. Thank you -- Felicia.

We're going to take a very quick break here.

U.S. lawmakers want to know more about a pivotal meeting at Trump Tower but Donald Trump Jr. isn't saying much. His latest appearance at a congressional hearing is coming up.

And we'll have news of Michael Flynn's alleged promises to business associates on Inauguration Day. What a whistleblower is saying.

And of course, much more on these California fires.

Stay with us. We'll have all the details for you.

[00:19:11] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Hello, everyone. President Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was just one element in a very busy day in U.S. politics. Donald Trump Jr. spent hours before the House Intelligence Committee refusing to answer questions about what he and his father discussed after a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. Trump Jr. cited attorney/client privilege.

(INAUDIBLE) Claim that during Mr. Trump's inauguration incoming national security advisor Michael Flynn texted a business associate saying a plan to partner with Russia to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East was good to go and sanctions in Moscow would be ripped up.

And also as I said it was a big news day. Democratic Senator Al Franken will make an announcement Thursday amid growing calls from follow senators for him to step down. A number of women have accused Franken of sexual harassment.

Joining me here in L.A. are political commentator and radio host Mo Kelly; and Republican specialist Chris Faulkner. Welcome to you both. Thank you for being with us.

CHRIS FAULKNER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you.

MO KELLY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.

SESAY: Gentlemen, when Mr. Trump made this announcement on Wednesday amongst the things he said to justify it was that this was a good move for U.S. interests and it was also good for the peace process.

I guess the question is Chris -- how does this advance U.S. interest?

FAULKNER: Well, at some point we have to stop being ambiguous really about who our allies and who our friends are. The United States already is spending close to $400 million a year funding the Palestinian authority trying to help the Palestinians establish better lives for themselves.

And I think that our reticence and our ambiguity in the past over our status with Israel has quite frankly led to some misgivings about the peace process. So hopefully with President Trump's strong statement what we are really going to see is people understanding now really where we stand as a nation and our foreign policy and who are the friends and who aren't.

SESAY: Ok. Mo -- before you weigh in, you know, President Trump has said that, you know, he believes this will make the peace process, you know, a better process if you will. That it will actually kick-start it so to speak. But then by this evening we're hearing from White House officials saying it's being derailed; one senior official saying to CNN, "temporarily I hope".

Ok. That's the White House position temporarily they hope. But I want you to take a listen to the Hanan Ashrawi. She is a PLO executive committee member, the Palestinian Liberation Organization committee member. Take a listen to what she said this means for the peace process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANAN ASHRAWI, PALESTININE LIBERAL ORGANIZATION: It means that the best man of the -- in any peace process and the destruction of the chance of peace in the region it is in one blow President Trump has destroyed not only the chances of peace but the stability and security of the region as a whole.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Hanan Ashrawi saying it destroyed the prospect for peace and potentially putting regional security at jeopardy at risk.

Mo -- many saying this is all about fulfilling a campaign promise. I guess the question is, is that worth derailing the peace process? Even the White House as said it has been derailed if only temporarily?

KELLY: Well, Chris was spot on. This is about identifying who are allies and who are enemies. And this President I think has been consistent in making it clear that the people of the Middle East are not our allies or at least how he presents himself in our foreign policy.

The timing of this was dubious if you think you want to move forward with any type of Middle East peace. But when you look at it not in a vacuum but in the totality when you have the travel ban decision come down this week, it sends the message that the people of the Middle East are not our friends and he's not trying to be friends with them.

So yes, the Middle East is going to respond in kind with their protests and the feeling that this is not about peace.

[00:24:54] SESAY: There's so much to discuss on the Jerusalem front but we have to shift gears and go to the other branch of government would be Congress because I want to get into the fact that a seventh woman has come out and accused Al Franken of sexual misconduct.

And it would appear that seven was the one too many because by the end of Wednesday we had some 32 senators come out and say Franken has to go. It was all kicked off by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Take a listen to what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Obviously there were new allegations today and enough is enough. We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is ok. None of it is acceptable. And we as elected leaders should absolutely be held to a higher standard not a lower standard. I do not feel that he should continue to serve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Chris what do you make of the way the Democrats have handled all of this and now everyone's found a voice?

FAULKNER: You know it would be easy as a Republican who literally has campaigned in Minnesota against Senator Franken it would be very easy for me to jump on this bandwagon and say run this guy out. You know, let's kick him out right now. But it's a dangerous precedent.

As much as all of us, I think nobody would disagree, that better accountability for people's actions and behaviors especially in terms of women in the workplace. This is all a good progress.

We run a very dangerous risk of going to a system where there's no due process for those accused. And I think that's really dangerous for us to go to. Seven women, eight women -- made the point and it is good. It's what -- six wasn't enough? And it's a slippery slope.

I'd like to see Senator Franken and quite frankly anyone accused of any wrongdoing, get their due process. I don't think he should resign unless he is ready to admit culpability and guilt.

SESAY: Mo -- where do you stand on this issue and also the fact that some people are saying that it's a double standard at play when it comes to how Democrats responded to Senator Franken versus John Conyers who stepped down on Tuesday.

(CROSSTALKING)

SESAY: What's your thought on that?

KELLY: I wouldn't say that D is for double standard. I will say that D is for Dumb Democrat. I don't understand why in the world the Democrats would hold themselves to a different standard than they hold their own Republican counterparts.

What is the bar here? Is the bar accusation? Number of accusations? If you're going to call for the ouster or the resignation of Al Franken then you must if principle is the guide call for the ouster or resignation of the President.

If it has to do with whether someone has admitted fault, well John Conyers has not admitted fault. There needs to be some semblance of consistency in our national discussions. And the Democrats don't have it.

SESAY: Chris?

FAULKNER: He's right. There's no consistency there. It's really unfortunate --

SESAY: And especially about the President? What does it mean? FAULKNER: What does it mean in terms of the President?

I -- my first statement is still the true statement. Everyone deserves due process. Everyone deserves benefit of the e doubt until they've been proven guilty. As with Senator Franken, whether it's John Conyers or any of these things, you know. Congressman Conyers was also looking at a "Playboy" on a flight in 2010 while sitting in coach flying from D.C. to Detroit.

So I'm not really sure his behavior has always been the most ethical or most, certainly representative of --

KELLY: "Playboys" are unethical?

FAULKNER: No, in terms of his behavior and maybe his attitude towards women.

SESAY: Ok.

FAULKNER: What he wants to do in his private time is certainly his business but I guess what I'm saying is as a representative of his district he's absolutely set the wrong tone even before any of these the accusations.

And let's remember too he also paid -- used taxpayer dollars to pay people that were actually accusing him and it's called a settlement.

KELLY: Right.

SESAY: Do you see the difference -- Mo?

KELLY: Only if we're going exclude Farenthold from this conversation -- Congressman Farenthold of Texas, who used taxpayer money to pay for a settlement. We are still lacking -- and I'm not blaming you, I'm just saying in our larger discussion we're lacking that consistency as far as how we're going to approach these individuals and how and where we define fault.

SESAY: Very quickly -- I've got to get to the fact that Donald Trump, Jr. was on Capitol Hill as you all know and speaking to House investigators. The main focus is that July 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where Don Jr. and you know Kushner was there and that Russian lawyer.

Essentially there was a question asked of him basically what did you discuss with your father. He says that basically his father wasn't kept abreast of the meeting at the time. He spoke to him afterwards but he says that is covered by attorney/client privilege.

Chris -- we've had a number of legal minds on CNN on Wednesday saying no that's not how this works, you know -- attorney/client privilege. What do you make of the way Don Jr. handled all this today? Because one would think this is not the end of the matter.

Faulkner: Well, I'm not an attorney and I would agree with you it's not the end of the matter. I think that there's been a clear precedent from Mueller and his team that they're out to get his skin. They're out to get somebody. They're out and they're going to find somebody and they're going to make an example of somebody. Whether it's Don -- Donald Trump Jr. or someone else with the campaign, there's been a lot of things that the DOJ has been very inconsistent about in terms of this investigation.

And it's unfortunate because these accusations are extremely serious. We should take them seriously. But gain as with the sexual misconduct people are going to be basically assumed guilty without any kind of due process and it's just very unfortunate.

[00:30:05] SESAY: Mo, what do you say to that? Some would say the lack of transparency adds to this image of a White House trying to hide something.

KELLY: Donald Trump Jr. is going to get all the due process he wants coming forward because he's begging for a subpoena from Robert Mueller. The fact that he would not answer that question in front of Congress, their congressional investigation, only means that Robert Mueller will find a way to have him answer it to him himself.

SESAY: Mo' Kelly, (INAUDIBLE), a pleasure. Thank you so much.

All right, we have to take a quick break right here. And in a moment, we'll go live to Jerusalem for reaction there to the U.S. president's announcement. Stay with us.

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ANDERSON: Well, the sun is coming up here in Jerusalem and, with it, the dawn of a new reality on the heels of this major announcement from U.S. President Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, to some, that announcement was in keeping with a campaign promise. To others, it's the recognition of a long-held reality. And to others, it's more evidence that the United States has its thumb on the scale when it comes to negotiating Middle East peace.

Well, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. says the United States will not take sides on ownership of the eastern and western parts of the city of Jerusalem. Still, senior White House officials acknowledge the move has temporarily derailed the peace process.

And the U.N. Security Council is scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss the decision internationally.

Well, the criticism of President Trump's announcement has been widespread with one notable exception. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite words of warning and caution from around the world, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move mordered (ph) by Israel's prime minister.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: We're profoundly grateful for the president for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the U.S. embassy here.

[00:35:00]

This decision reflects the president's commitment to an ancient but enduring truth to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.

HOLMES (voice-over): But few, if any others, among the staunchest critics, the Palestinians, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the move will help extremists and disrupt peace in the region.

Turkey also quick to condemn the move, calling it "irresponsible and against international law."

Russia, China, Germany and many others have expressed concern about the move. French President Emmanuel Macron also calling into question its legality.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): This is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and which goes against international law and all the U.N. Security Council resolutions.

HOLMES (voice-over): President Trump says the U.S. remains committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement acceptable to both sides. But the U.N. acknowledged uncertainty around the issue and stressed the importance of a two-state solution.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear, there is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no plan B.

It is only by realizing the vision of two states, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition, with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine and all final statutes (ph), issues resolved permanently through negotiations, that the legitimate aspirations of both peoples will be achieved.

HOLMES (voice-over): The world and the region gripped by tension, as leaders navigate what the announcement may mean in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their places within it -- Michael Holmes, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, Victor Kattan (ph) is the senior research fellow at the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore. He joins me now from there.

And, sir, despite coordinated Arab condemnation of this move by Donald Trump as provocative and dangerous, the reaction on the street has been muted. That doesn't mean to say that it will stay that way. We'll need to watch Friday prayers.

But the question is, what should be the next move by Palestinians at this point?

VICTOR KATTAN (PH), MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE AT THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE: Well, the Palestinians have, well, eight members of the U.N. Security Council have called an emergency meeting, the Security Council tomorrow. There's been emergency summits called at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and at the Arab League.

Palestinians have been speaking out to news media. So they're making their position clear that they see this move by President Trump as prejudging the final status of Jerusalem as a shared capital to be negotiated by the Israelis and Palestinians directly.

ANDERSON: Well, as one commentator here in one of the local dailies put it, Donald Trump gives away nothing for free.

So as the Palestinians and Arabs begin to put their next move together, as it were, what price do you think the U.S. president will now exact from the Israelis?

KATTAN (PH): Well, one hopes that the price he might exact is perhaps a recognition that the Palestinians have a claim to East Jerusalem. He hasn't mentioned much about the U.S. consulate general in the eastern side of the city, which is separate to the move, the embassy move from Tel Aviv.

So perhaps we don't know. That could be potentially a U.S. embassy to a future Palestinian state. But he didn't say much about, apart from saying this was consistent with a vision of two states. So that leaves some room for future talks. But unless he comes out quickly and makes that clear, it doesn't look too good.

ANDERSON: All right. So I guess that begs this question.

When the dust settles, does this recognition of reality, as Donald Trump put it, provide scope for Middle East peace, despite the naysayers insisting the peace process is dead and buried?

Or is it exactly that, dead and buried?

KATTAN (PH): Well, some people have said the peace process has been dead and buried for a while. The problem is this idea of recognizing realities. It doesn't address the issue of legality. I mean, Israel's status in East Jerusalem is not different to the Golan Heights --

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KATTAN (PH): -- or Russia's status in Crimea or other trouble spots around the world.

So this -- one is just talking about the reality of power of big states controlling territory and that -- then by recognizing this, this could cause problems not just in the Middle East but also in other parts of the world, which is why everyone's calling for a negotiated settlement, bearing in mind that East Jerusalem, the U.N. Security Council has been very clear about the status of East Jerusalem, most recently last December, when it called for no changes to the 1967 borders, which is binding on all members of the United Nations, including the U.S.

ANDERSON: Well, we wait for the dust to settle. Donald Trump certainly calling for calm. We'll see.

Thank you for that.

Still to come, firefighters in California are once again working to contain a series of destructive wildfires. See why dry conditions mixed with fierce winds are making a bad situation worse.

You're watching CNN. Stay with us.

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VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Authorities here say California is facing its worst threat from Santa Ana winds this state has ever seen. The threat level for Thursday, the wind wildfire threat level, will be purple; that is one up from what it's been at a red level.

And that purple level has never been used before. It is that serious here right now. It means any fire which starts in the next 24 hours will simply burn out of control.

To put all of this in some context here, this one fire in that ridge just behind me, just over that ridge, we're about 20 miles away from downtown L.A. The other fire zones continue to burn and are a long way from being contained.

[00:45:00] Thank you for watching CNN. We'll have a lot more of our continuing coverage on California's fire crisis, also the fallout from the U.S. president's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That's at the top of the hour but right now, "WORLD SPORT" is up next. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN.