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CONNECT THE WORLD

Trump, Pence Push American Foreign Policy Abroad; 100 Plus Venezuelan Troops Defect After Clashes on Colombia Border; U.S. Vice President Lands in Bogota; Vietnam Making Preparations to Host Critical Meeting; U.K. Prime Minister at EU-Arab League Summit as Deadline Looms; Donald Tusk Says Extension Would Be Rational Solution; CNN Speaks to British Teen ISIS Bride's Lawyer; Benjamin Netanyahu Seeks Fifth Term As Prime Minister; Australian Press Council Says Serena Cartoon Not Racist; "Green Book", Olivia Colman, Lady Gaga Win Oscars. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 25, 2019 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: From CNN's Middle East broadcasting hub in Abu Dhabi, hello and welcome. This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me,

Becky Anderson.

We begin as America's top leaders head to opposite sides of the world pushing U.S. foreign policy in two very different situations. In

Venezuela, it's anarchy. Tensions flaring as activists fight to get aid across the border from Brazil and Colombia. Stopped by their own

countrymen and women, Venezuela's National Guard. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has just landed in Colombia to meet Venezuela's self-declared interim

President, to discuss new ways to pressure incumbent President Nicolas Maduro.

Meantime, many time zones away, U.S. President Donald Trump is set to once again meet Kim Jong-un, face to face. Trying to convince the North Korean

dictator to abandon his nuclear ambitions. Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set to head shortly for that second North Korea U.S.

Summit, this time, the venue is Vietnam.

As always, you can trust CNN to be across all angles. We have reporters deployed across the world for you, Nick Payton Walsh on the ground in

Bogota following talks there. Isa Soares is in Venezuela's capital. Will Ripley is in Hanoi, awaiting the arrivals of the North Korean leader and

the U.S. President, and Joe Johns is in Washington for you. Let's start in Bogota, and Nick, Juan Guaido meeting with the regional supporters

including the U.S. Vice President, as I understand it, formally asking the international community, to keep all options on the table. Which means

what exactly?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's slightly clear where we may be heading after the weekend. That was sort of a moment

in which they had hoped humanitarian aid might peacefully pass in and the Venezuela military would crumble in the face of opposition protesters

carrying badly-need food. That didn't happen and instead we had clashes. Five killed, by some counts, hundreds injured, a lot of totality from

Venezuela security forces. I have to point out though, over 150 of whom defected over the border into Colombia.

In the next minutes, at about five to 10 minutes, Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States, will meet Juan Guaido, self-declared

President, interim President, opposition leader. Now there is a big question over this meeting, because after those clashes, which the U.S. had

constantly warned the Maduro government would be met with secure consequence if they harmed protesters on the streets. We don't know what

the next moves from the White House are. Sanctions have been hinted at by National Security Advisor, John Bolton. But the big question for Juan

Guaido is, he's here in Colombia, not there in Venezuela, where he says he is the legitimate President. So he has to go back there at some point or

really become kind of the president in waiting in exile. These meetings give him, he would think, international legitimacy and certainly bring him

closer to the regional allies or his opposition movements of which there are plenty. But the question for him is what's next. And for the White

House, what response do they have to those scenes of violence which they've warned Maduro against -- Becky?

ANDERSON: Isa is in Caracas in Venezuela. Isa, what is the mood there?

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, everyone is closely watching this Lima Group, if you're a Guaido supporter, wanting concrete

action, coming from the Lima Group, coming in particular from the United States, given the weekend that we saw of heavy violence on both sides of

the border. But you're a Maduro supporter, who were perhaps out in force, Becky, on Saturday, hearing Maduro not only dance while so many people were

being seen really facing off with the military. They would want to see Guaido arrested. That was a huge call. Everyone screaming in front of

Maduro, basically saying lock him up, lock him up.

Also, Maduro stating, Becky, telling Juan Guaido, if you are indeed the legitimate President of Venezuela, then go ahead and call elections. So

Juan Guaido has to walk a very fine line, because any saber rattling from the other side on his side, could potentially see further defections

perhaps at higher ranks, Becky. But go too far, only reinforces Nicolas Maduro's chance that perhaps this humanitarian aid is just a Trojan horse

to try to oust him from power. So everyone paying very close attention. But Nicolas Maduro has himself said, Becky.

[10:05:00] The proof is the Lima Cartel, it gives you a sense of how he sees this meeting today.

ANDERSON: Nick, just how long is the Vice President on the ground as you understand it? And is it clear from the U.S. -- we've talked about the

potential sort of next steps. But is it clear, as we speak, whether military invention on the part of the U.S., is an option that is on the

table?

WALSH: They say it's on the table, but I think that's more likely because they don't want Maduro to think it's off the table. Rather than it's

actually something that concretely they're planning for. Make no mistake, a U.S. military invasion -- if that's what we're talking about -- is an

enormous operation that we see coming from space, so put that aside, there is no sign that is under way. What might be in the back of their mind, and

what some more kind of combative activists we're speaking to have hinted at, is there may be plans to perhaps assist parts of the resistance,

military defectors to do something. That isn't necessarily underway at this point either.

I think the broad feeling is that they keep the drum beat up long enough, they'll see more defections and the military might rethink its kind of

consistency and how coherent it is if highest ranks move. But I think while people inside those buildings just straightaway, will in the back of

their mind be wandering about military intervention. It's the first thing that everybody said when they first met Mike Pence, they didn't want to

have happen, they wanted a peaceful solution. I think they want to hang it in the air, like that 5,000 troops to Colombia threat on John Bolton's note

pad a couple of weeks ago. They wanted the people to know that it still an option but I don't think they don't want to use though, not at this point.

But I have to say, the scenes of the weekend changed the temperature here. The violence, the loss of life, that was abnormally high. It was a

symbolic moment and one in which the Maduro government chose to show its clearer hand really. The forces used against protesters in the past years

not lethal force -- I should point out -- but brutal force and many deaths as a result. But that wasn't immediately the immediate intention of the

security force as far as we can tell. Live rounds used elsewhere. The place where we were was mostly tear gas and rubber bullets. But it's

changed the temperature and I think the nature of discussion inside that building -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, it's 10:07 there in Bogota in Colombia. Thank you for that and discussing with both Nick and Isa, where U.S. policy seems to be at

present, in that part of the world. As we say, many time zones away, our resident expert, on all things North Korea, Will Ripley, is in Vietnam,

ahead of the summit between the North Korean leader and the U.S. President. Taking a look at how the capitol is preparing for what is another historic

meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These three flag, the United States, Vietnam, and North Korea, line the streets of Hanoi, the Vietnamese

capital, known for its iconic landmarks, like the Huc Bridge, a symbol of this city's past. Which also includes the Vietnam War, which left much of

this city in ruins, and then, the city was rebuilt, and an economic miracle here in Vietnam, as a result of normalized relations with the United

States. And perhaps a lesson for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who is on his way here for his historic second summit with the U.S. President, Donald

Trump.

This is the International Media Center. Thousands of foreign journalists are descending on Hanoi and the Vietnamese government knows that the eyes

of the world are watching. They've even flown in these flowers from Da Lat, in the central highlands of Vietnam. And you can see cleaning crews

all over the city, sprucing things up, making sure everything is perfect.

Behind me here is the infamous Hanoi Hilton where American prisoners of war were detained and interrogated and tortured during the Vietnam War

including the late U.S. Senator John McCain. This building really is a symbol of just how far Vietnam has come since those dark days during the

war. A symbol of how a country can recover from a conflict with the United States, normalize relations, and end up with a booming economy, and a

better relationship with the rest of the world. It's a message that the U.S. President Donald Trump will undoubtedly be trying to hit home when he

meets with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un here, later this week. Will Ripley, CNN, Hanoi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, Joe Johns is in Washington for you. And Joe, as the U.S. President, and his Secretary of State then get set to head for Hanoi, is

its clear what success looks like, or will look like for Donald Trump?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's not clear. And it's been just a bit all over the place, over the past 24 hours or so, I would

say. Last night, the President was sounding a bit more pessimistic about it, or at least trying to maintain some sense of reasonableness. When he

suggested that he would be happy if there were an end to missile and nuclear testing.

[10:10:00] Then he moved much more to optimism this morning, with a tweet, suggesting that denuclearization would be a big boon for the economy of

North Korea. And then speaking to the nation's governors here at the White House just a little while ago, more optimism there. Listen.

Perhaps we don't have that sound bite. Nonetheless, the President did sound more optimistic, suggesting that North Korea would be able to move

very quickly to a much more powerful and better economy if it were to denuclearize. So the President does seem to be advancing and retreating in

his rhetoric, as he moves toward getting on the plane to go to Hanoi. And that certainly is an indication that he is trying to lead or at the very

least set the stage for what he hopes will be something fairly substantive. And perhaps will take the country's attention away from all of the

controversies that will be played out here on Capitol Hill over the next week -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Connecting the world for you, in Washington, Hanoi, Caracas, and Bogota, CNN's teams for you tonight. Guys, thank you.

To another significant summit now, as we connect your world tonight, this one in sunny Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. People usually go there for rest

and relaxation -- something I clearly need. But the only R&R on Theresa May's mind stands for referendum and its repercussions. That is the Brexit

referendum, of course, and Britain's ever-approaching deadline to leave the EU, just weeks away. Right now Mrs. May is at the first-ever EU Arab

League Summit where she is insisting Brexit can happen on time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: An extension to Article 50, a delay in this process, doesn't deliver a decision in Parliament, it doesn't

deliver a deal. What it does is precisely what the word delay says.

We have it within our grasp, as I've just said, I've had a real sense from the meetings I've had here, conversations I've had with EU leaders in

recent days, a real sense of that we can achieve that deal. It's within our grasp to leave with the deal on the 29th of March.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, Nic Robertson is in Sharm El Sheik. Theresa May may genuinely believe she can pull off a deal before the end of March. Her

critics of course accuse her of running down the clock. Can is different from will. Will she at this point?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, Becky, I'm standing here and I'm trying to analyze what we've heard over the course of

the last 24 hours, from Theresa May, from the other EU leaders. Donald Tusk spoke just before Theresa May, across the corridor, minutes apart, but

they were poles apart in what they had to say. They both sound tired. We'll play this sound bite from Donald Tusk in just a second. But he is

sounding the complete opposite ends of the spectrum from Theresa May.

So I'm standing here wondering, am I listening to two sides here who have just sort of been on parallel tracks who can't bring an intersection to get

an agreement or am I listening to two arch negotiators who know that they're down to the last month of talks and are staking out their positions

and putting on their game face and their poker expressions and their I'm tired of the new sort of delivery, that I can go for this longer. It is

hard to work that out. The concern is that Theresa May could make a mistake and leave without a deal. But listen to Donald Tusk here. And he

said that he had been trying to persuade Theresa May about the need to plan and avoid a possible no deal Brexit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TUSK, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: I can say first of all, that Prime Minister May and I discussed yesterday a lot of issues, including the

legal and procedural context of a potential extension. It's for me it's absolutely clear that there is no majority in the House of Commons to

approve a deal or face an alternative, a chaotic Brexit or extension.

The last time we talked, it will be the 29th of March, the greater the likelihood of an extension and this is an objective fact, not our

intention, not our plan, but an objective fact. I believe that in this situation we are in, an extension will be a rational solution, but Prime

Minister May still believes that she's able to avoid this scenario.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[10:15:00] ROBERTSON: So is he calling Theresa May irrational? Is that where we're at on this? Again, you know, you got to try to decide, Becky,

two poker players, playing down the last hand here, or actually a real gulf, and as I say, that concern exists. If both sides get it wrong, then

they have the huge chaos of a no deal Brexit.

ANDERSON: Yes, and it is, what, just over 30 days to go. Who would have believed that Britain and the EU would be in this position? But they are.

Nic, thank you.

Still to come, the lawyer for the family of ISIS bride, Shamima Begum, speaks to CNN for the first time about their legal challenge after the U.K.

government officials stripped her of her British citizenship. That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: As you will be aware, the fall of ISIS has left a slew of foreign children and women in camps. Many asking to return home. One of

the most high-profile cases is that of Shamima Begum who left London as a 15-year-old school girl to join the, quote, caliphate, as some call it, in

Syria. She has since been stripped of her British citizenship, sparking a fierce debate over whether she should be allowed to return to the country

of her birth. It's also led to a legal fight. Begum's U.K.-based family appealing the British government's decision. And the lawyer for Shamima

Begum's family joining me now. Tasnime Akunjee Is speaking to CNN about a case for the first time. And just to be clear, sir, you represent Shamima

Begum's U.K.-based family in Bethel Green, in the East of London. What is their position at present?

TASNIME AKUNJEE, LAWYER FOR THE FAMILY OF SHAMIMA BEGUM: Well, they are considering all options in terms of the Home Office's decision or the Home

Secretary's decision, to strip Shamima Begum of her nationality at the moment or her citizenship.

[10:20:00] Now, they have a window of opportunity to appeal that decision, and really, that falls upon getting Shamima's instructions in order to

initiate that process.

ANDERSON: I'm hearing that they're in constant contact with her. Are they?

AKUNJEE: No, the family nor I have had contact with her yet. But we're seeking to make efforts to try and establish contact for the first time.

ANDERSON: OK. Well, let's just remind our viewers what we know. The U.K. government and the security agencies, not mincing their words, when it

comes to those who leave Britain to join ISIS. The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has warned, if you have supported terrorist organizations abroad, I

will not hesitate to prevent your return. If you do manage to return, you should be ready to be questioned, investigated, and potentially prosecuted.

And the head of the U.K.'s foreign intelligence service, MI-6, has expressed similar concerns about those returning to Britain after being

involved with ISIS. Alex Young warning today, that experience tells us, that once someone has put themselves in that sort of situation, they are

likely to have acquired both the skills and connections to make them potentially very dangerous. The Home Secretary deciding to strip her of

her citizenship. Tasnime, don't they have a point here?

AKUNJEE: Of course, but we're talking about a number of a hundred returnees, all of which fall within different categories of dangerousness

or so otherwise. Now it's interesting and it's a question we will raise into the near future as to why ministers are fully aware that we have 400

returnees. Some of which they've accepted as men of fighting age and have been fighting with ISIS type outfits already in the U.K., of which 10

percent have been prosecuted.

Now, these are statements that were made and enhanced on last year. The idea that Shamima Begum who is a 19-year-old girl, radicalized as a child

with a very small child of her own, poses a greater risk even as she presents now, as those other 400 existing returnees is something that we

wish to examine with a great deal of critique.

ANDERSON: Let's remind our viewers once again, she has shown no remorse at this stage, as a 19-year-old. The father of Shamima Begum speaking to the

press from his home which is in Bangladesh. The country the British government claims she is a citizen of .

He said, quote, if the law of the land says that it is correct to cancel her citizenship, then I agree.

In a separate interview, with the Sunday "People," you say Shamima's mother wants to avoid her grandson being indoctrinated by the highly damaged

Begum. And I quote her there. Those comments certainly suggest that her family aren't that supportive of her. So if she were to return, who would

take care of her? Would there be any support available? And if not, would it really be wise to let her return?

AKUNJEE: Well, the issue is it legal not to allow her to turn. The Home Office has made the decision based upon the assumption that she was dual

national at the time of the decision and that is a point of convention. The dual citizenship concept comes from the idea that she can draw on her

citizenship from her Bengali parents in Bangladesh. Well the Bengali government has been very clear, they have made their position well known

and that they that she is not a Bengali citizen nor would she be able to apply for citizenship. So in those circumstances our position is that she

is now effectively stateless.

So the issue of legality comes into play and this is what we are more concerned about, whether our government is acting illegally in stripping

somebody of their citizenship. In terms of whether she is remorseful or not, that is not really a criteria for whether a human being should be

stripped of citizenship or not. That's something that needs to be assessed, given that she made those statements whilst in a camp with 49,000

other people, in the section of the camp that is reserved for ISIS supporters.

So her words from where they are at the moment are going to be somewhat difficult to take on board as they are potentially coming out of under

duress, with her knowledge under duress.

In terms of her family and support, of course her family supports her, they don't recognize her. She is certainly not the child that they remembered

back in 2015. And anyone who has gone through the experiences that Ms. Begum has gone through in the last four years would be traumatized and it's

fair to assume would be damaged. But we don't leave damaged children, that is certainly not the issue of damaged children, outside in a war zone, to

fend for themselves.

[10:25:00] Particularly when her child is only a week old, is a British citizen. And we're very concerned about bringing him back, as a primary

issue.

ANDERSON: What do you do next if you are -- neither you nor the family, are in touch with her?

AKUNJEE: Say it again.

ANDERSON: What do you do next, if neither you nor the family, are in touch with her? Surely, you are supporting the family here, in this defense, in

this appeal, but you haven't spoken to her, so you don't know how she feels at this point.

AKUNJEE: Well, she's expressed through the media, and this is a lament of the family, that it seems that every outfit -- media outfit, and their

poodles can have access to her through Syria, but yet her own family and legal advisers can't make contact. So this is quite a concern. How is

that happening, that in the camp, only journalists have access to her, not lawyers and not psychiatric professionals. No one who can actually assess

her state of mind, or indeed her position with respect to her statements.

But beyond that, when we do make contact with her, those are the first concerns that we are going to have, and we have to ask her, does she

actually want to come back, or wilt she happy for her child to come back first without her. These are questions that will be put to her. But she

has made it very clear through the media that she wants to come back and she wants to come back primarily for the health and safety of her child.

ANDERSON: Does her family see her as a terrorist?

AKUNJEE: Sorry, the connection is very bad. But can you say that again slowly?

ANDERSON: Do the family that you are in contact with in the U.K. see their daughter as a terrorist?

AKUNJEE: Well, they see that she, as a 15-year-old child, had, against their wishes clearly, made her way to ISIS territory. Now, the way this

family can see that, is that she was a young girl who was groomed into that thinking and has now spent four years immersed in that thinking. Having

spent that time there, and being groomed, she still has made the decision, a very dangerous decision, to escape from ISIS, and make her way to a camp,

and try and make her way home. So that is something the family wanted for her throughout the entire four-year duration, and they are grateful that

there is a change in her thinking at the very least, in that she wants to get away from ISIS, and come back home to family.

ANDERSON: Last question to you, sir, and I realize that the connection isn't great, how long do you expect this process to take? She is in a

camp, as you point out. With some 49,000 others. In an area specifically designed to detain those who have been active members of the ISIS group.

How long is this going to take?

AKUNJEE: Well, that is all in the hands of Mr. Javid. This process could be made much more quickly, if the application that he is made to deny her

citizenship is withdrawn. That would speed up the process very quickly. If not, then the matter going to the U.K. courts, that would take any

number of months, maybe even years.

ANDERSON: We're going to leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us. The lawyer working with the U.K.-based family of Shamima

Begum joining us for the first time here on CNN. Thank you, sir.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Coming up, Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping to clench a fifth term as Israeli Prime Minister. And his biggest asset might be his Trump card. The latest

from Jerusalem is up next.

[10:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: We are just six weeks away from the Israeli elections. Something we will be following closely, as you would well expect from us

here on CONNECT THE WORLD. We'll be taking the show on the road to cover this important story for you. There's a lot going on already right now.

President Benjamin Netanyahu second in the polls as he seeks his fifth term in office, that's despite the threat of corruption charges hanging over his

head. Mr. Netanyahu has no problem playing the Trump card. CNN's Oren Liebermann has an inside look at the upcoming elections.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After the dust of early elections have settled, the political landscape in Israel has become clear,

for the first time in years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party are behind in election poll, as the Israeli leader seeks a

fifth term office.

The challenger? His former military chief of staff, Benny Gantz. Whose slate includes former defense ministers and other chiefs of staff aiming

for Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu's image as Mr. Security.

Gantz led military through two wars in Gaza, 2014 and 2012. To challenge Netanyahu, Gantz merged with another centrist party, boosting their overall

numbers and putting them in the lead. Of course, Netanyahu has dominated Israeli politics since the 2009 election. His campaign highlights his

diplomatic achievements, while dismissing his challenger as a week leftist and trashing the criminal investigation against him as a witch hunt.

If there is a heavyweight helping out Netanyahu's President Donald Trump on billboards with the Israeli leader. And back to this moment. Netanyahu

and Gantz may have the biggest parties but not big enough. They will have to rely on smaller parties to form a government and here Benjamin Netanyahu

has a clear advantage. He has a strong right-wing block back by ultra- orthodox parties. Gantz has a harder path to form a coalition, even if he has the biggest party on election day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: All right. Oren joining me now out of Jerusalem. Oren, Prime Minister Netanyahu then faced growing criticism from the U.S. and from

within Israel itself, for his courting of this extreme right party called Jewish Strength.

And in a rare move, AIPAC, America's pro-Israel lobby, criticizing the minister, saying, and I quote.

[10:35:00] We agree with the AJC -- that's the American Jewish Committee -- AIPAC has a longstanding policy not to meet with members of this racist and

reprehensible party.

Is this a worry for Mr. Netanyahu? Is there likely to be any lasting impact at this point?

LIEBERMANN: Realistically, it probably won't have any lasting impact. Certainly, AIPAC and many of these other major Jewish-American

organizations criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, some naming him, some not specifically naming him, it is a big story. It is front page

news here, and yet at the same time, the AIPAC policy conference has invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak there and he will be

welcomed like a hero there, as he has been in years past.

And I'll give you a perfect example. One year ago the CEO of AIPAC began the conference by saying there needs to be strong support for a two-state

solution. It was a very strong statement. Once again it made headlines here. And yet AIPAC invited some of the ministers here who openly oppose a

Palestinian state, a two-state solution. And Netanyahu was still welcomed despite having them in his government. So for all of the criticism and how

unusual that it is, it's not likely to have a lasting impact. And Netanyahu essentially will be allowed to have this party in his coalition

if that is what he chooses as elections here proceed.

ANDERSON: All right, you mentioned Donald Trump, who has proven to be a crucial Netanyahu ally. Earlier this month, the U.S. President reposting

this image on Instagram, showing a billboard of the two leaders shaking hands. What role will he play in these elections?

LIEBERMANN: Not a direct role, but certainly, an indirect role. First, there is that billboard. And then when Netanyahu himself is at AIPAC and

in Washington, D.C. in a couple of weeks, he'll meet President Donald Trump in the White House. Netanyahu will play up that relationship. Trump

is very popular here because of the embassy move, because of the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And that plays to one

of Netanyahu's strengths, his diplomacy skills, and that will be part of his campaign, showing what he was able to accomplish with President Trump.

So Trump will have a role in this election, whether he's here or not.

ANDERSON: For the two years now, or so, we've been covering the criminal investigations against Israel's Prime Minister. And this is important,

isn't it? Mr. Netanyahu is being investigated by police in three separate corruption cases. All of them have been handed over to the Attorney

General. Police have said there is sufficient evidence to charge the Prime Minister with fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. Now, let's be clear.

Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Where does this all stand? And what is likely to happen politically if, if and when, he's

charged?

LIEBERMANN: What we're waiting for now, and this truly may come in the next couple of days is for the Attorney General here, to make a statement,

saying he intends to indict the Prime Minister, on these charges. Or not. It's up to the Attorney General at this point.

But it's not an actual indictment. Netanyahu is entitled to his hearing. And that hearing could take up to a year. So this process which started a

couple of years ago is not about to end soon. But just the statement that the Attorney General intends to indict the Prime Minister is a big

statement. No doubt Netanyahu has his response ready for whenever the Attorney General makes that statement. What impact could it have

politically? Well potentially a very big one.

If Netanyahu loses even a few seats, that could change the entire political landscape here. If those seat goes to other right-wing parties, then it

hasn't really changed the right versus left balance, but even one or two of those seat goes to Netanyahu his challenger, could give him the election.

ANDERSON: So we've talked about the focus of Netanyahu's campaign. We've seen what Gantz is up to as well. And we've talked about the sort of, as

it were, no influence from Donald Trump, officially, no involvement, but we've talked about the potential influence here, that people might

perceive.

The other issue I wanted to bring up with you, is Jared Kushner, who is intrinsically linked of course with the, what Donald Trump has been touting

as the deal of the century. He is in the Middle East, right now, selling part of that administration's peace plan. It's supposed to be released

after the elections. Is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict a major issue in these elections? And if so, how will any potential peace plan play out,

even if at this point, we don't see the details of that before the election, it's likely we might do, as these coalitions are built, whoever

wins?

LIEBERMANN: So the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is, you're right, simply not a part of the election process here and not one of the major issues.

[10:40:00] Not on the right. Not so much in the center. A little bit on the left. But it is not playing in the headlines here. It's not a topic

of conversation here. And that's because neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor his challenger have committed to a two-state solution or otherwise. They'd

rather talk about other things, for example Iran and diplomacy and topics like that. The peace plan though is a very integral part of what's

happening here. If it were to come out before the elections, if Trump put the plan on the table, it would immediately become the number one issue in

these elections.

For Netanyahu, it would be an enormous challenge, because the majority of his coalition partners right now, his right-wing partners, would race to

reject, it and it would put Netanyahu in a tough spot. Either you accept the plan and lose your coalition, or you reject the plan and lose Trump.

And that is a terrible spot for Netanyahu to be in.

But for Netanyahu and for the rest of the Israelis and Palestinians, the plan itself comes out after the elections. This is also a crucial period

in Israeli politics. It's when governments are formed. It's when coalitions are put together. And that will pose another challenge for

Netanyahu. He's playing, to this right-wing coalition, most of those coalition partners have already flat-out rejected the idea of a two-state

solution.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. All right, well, this Israeli election, of course, April 9, a lot more from us, and from Oren, before that as we build

towards our coverage of what will be a very important election there in Israel. Thank you, Oren.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, you may well remember this moment from last year's U.S. Open Women's Final. A cartoon

of this scene, that sparked fury worldwide, has now been ruled not racist. The details on that cartoon and the case after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: I want to give you an update on a story that sparked an enormous amount of controversy late last year. Remember that cartoon of tennis

superstar Serena Williams that featured, in an Australian newspaper. Well many slammed the cartoon as racist, let me show it to you again now. Here

is the caricature that appeared in the "Herald Sun" in September last year. The cartoon lampooned Williams for her conduct after losing the U.S. Open

Final to Naomi Osaka. Now the Australian Press Council, which is a media watch dog, has ruled that this is not racist. Let's bring in our Don

Riddell for more. He's live for us from CNN. And you've been on this, what do we know at this point?

DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Well, I think the main headline is that as you say, the Australian Press Council has said that this is not racist.

That does not mean of course that people who found it offensive will agree with their claim.

[10:45:00] But that is the conclusion they have drawn. I can't remember a more divisive final than this match. And it really was something that

completely transcended sport and had so many people talking about it for the way the match played out and the aftermath of it. You have seen from

the cartoon that Serena Williams was depicted in a way in which exaggerated the size of her lips, her broad flat nose, she was depicted in an ape-like

pose. And Naomi Osaka, who by the way is of mixed race, she is of Haitian and Japanese descent. She was depicted as a white tennis player with blond

hair.

The eight-person panel on this press council deemed it to not be racist. I will tell you that there was only one person of color on this panel. And I

think just as the cartoon was controversial, this ruling will be controversial. And it comes a very interesting time. Just a matter of

hours ago, Serena Williams was on stage at the Oscars -- the academy award ceremony in Los Angeles.

And during that ceremony, Nike had a new commercial which was narrated by Serena Williams, and it showed a number of very, very famous African-

American women, or diverse female athletes, in situations on the field of play, on the tennis court, where they were perhaps emotional, certainly

fired up, and the commercial drew the attention to the way that the women are often depicted in the wake of these kind of incidents, and they

essentially said that crazy is good. It is a good thing. So Serena Williams trying to put a positive spin on the way this has all played out.

But I would say that this ruling today is just as controversial as the cartoon was in the first place.

ANDERSON: Sure. And just very briefly, remind us how she responded initially to this cartoon. If at all. And has she responded to this, to

this ruling yet?

RIDDELL: I don't believe that Serena Williams has said anything in the wake of this. She really didn't have much to say in the wake of the

incident itself. And it wasn't just this cartoon. There was so much response, and the opinion was so divided, as to whether her actions were

fair, were the right way to behave on the tennis court. It was certainly felt at the time, that she was given a much harder time than perhaps a male

player would have been if he behaved in the same way. It was an argument that played out on race grounds, on sex grounds, and really, I mean the

whole situation got completely out of control. But it was an incredibly divisive moment in sports.

ANDERSON: Yes, always a pleasure. Don, thank you. Don's in Atlanta. We're in Abu Dhabi. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Coming up, there's nothing shallow about this lady, the woman once called mother monster, crowned a Hollywood queen. Stay tuned for all of the buzz

from the Oscars.

[10:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: The biggest night in American film ended with a couple of plot twists of its own. "Green Book" unexpectedly won the Oscar for best

picture beating out Netflix's $25 million campaign for "Roma". Olivia Colman be favorite Glenn Close to win best actress. A moving acceptance

speech that has gone viral. If you see the speech, I don't know whether you would agree whether it was moving, it was very, very funny.

Also, did you know that Lady Gaga has performed at the Oscars three times, and every time, she's gotten a standing ovation? She took home the prize

for best song for "Shallow" from "A Star is Born". And her electric and intimate performance with Bradley Cooper, has gotten plenty of talk on

Twitter. The curtains down, the bubbly being drunk, the outfits have been returned, and CNN's Stephanie Elam live for you in Los Angeles -- Steph.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, maybe not returned yet, maybe still hanging out on some of the floors in the hotel rooms at this point.

It's still early here in California, Becky. But yes, there were some surprises last night, I think a lot of people thought that "Green Book" was

going to get it. But Glenn Close, that was a shocker, among some other surprising moments last night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIA ROBERTS, OSCAR PRESENTER FOR BEST PICTURE: And the Oscar goes to "Green Book".

ELAM: "Green Book's" best picture win capping a historic night at the Academy Awards. A record 15 women winning Hollywood's top honor. And more

than a dozen people of color earning golden statues. Including Alfonso Cuaron, who won best director for "Roma". The film won best foreign

language film and best cinematography.

Spike Lee winning his first competitive Oscar for best adaptive screen play for "BlacKkKlansman". He thanked his grandmother before turning to

politics.

SPIKE LEE, OSCAR WINNER FOR BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let's do the right thing.

ELAM: Plenty of diversity in the acting categories. Regina King and Mahershala Ali, winning best supporting acting awards. And Rami Malek

winning best actor for his portrayal of Queen front man, Freddy Mercury, in "Bohemian Rhapsody".

RAMI MALEK, BEST ACTOR OSCAR FOR BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY: We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant who lived his life just unapologetically himself.

And the fact that I'm celebrated him and this story with you tonight is proof that we're longing for stories like this.

ELAM: Perhaps the biggest upset of the night, acting legend Glenn Close, losing to Olivia Colman, who won best actress for her performance in "The

Favourite".

OLIVIA COLEMAN, BEST ACTRESS OSCAR FOR THE FAVOURITE: Any little girl who's practicing a speech on the telly, you never know.

ELAM: The night beginning with a high-octane performance by Queen and Adam Lambert.

QUEEN: We will, we will rock you.

ELAM: The band kicking off the first host-less Oscars since 1989.

LADY GAGA AND BRADLEY COOPER, PERFORMING SHALLOW: In the sha-ha, sha-ha- ha-low We're far from the shallow now

ELAM: And this passionate performance by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, the superstar duo from "A Star is Born" singing "Shallow" which earned Lady

Gaga her first Academy Award for best original song.

Lady Gaga, best original song Oscar for "Shallow": It is not about winning, but what it's about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight

for it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELAM: And for the record, that performance, between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga was one of the moments that everyone was waiting for. There was

so much response to it, on Twitter, inside the room where I was, I was just outside of the auditorium. And people were quiet just listening to it and

then all of the rumors started. But of course, you need to remember that Bradley Cooper's girlfriend was right there in the front row watching this

whole thing and then hugged them both afterwards. So everyone can calm down.

ANDERSON: Everybody can calm down, exactly.

Donald Trump has not calmed down though. He tweeted last night, it would be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes or better yet not have to use

notes at all, when doing his racist bit on your President. He said it was done more for African-Americans (criminal justice reform, lowest

unemployment numbers in history, tax cuts, et cetera.) Than almost any other Pres. Exclamation mark -- Stephanie.

ELAM: Just in case people didn't hear what Spike Lee said, in his speech, I'll read to you what he said. It's longer than this. But here's a

segment of it.

He says, the 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let all be mobilized. Let's be on the right side of history.

[10:55:00] Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let's do the right thing.

So that's what he said. And so, basically Spike was saying do your civic duty and vote. Which is a very American thing that you're supposed to do.

He didn't mention the President at all by name. And in fact, the Oscars can be very political in general. This show was not. And Spike Lee is

always political. Everything he does is political. "BlacKkKlansman" is political. At the end he shows video of the riots of Charlottesville from

a year or so ago. Where a young woman was killed when those clashes happened at the end of that movie. So this is not surprising that he was

being political. Also probably not surprising that the President was also tweeting about it. Both of them very much acting the way we have seen them

act previously.

ANDERSON: Quite predictable, really. Stephanie, thank you. Always a pleasure.

ELAM: Thanks, Becky.

ANDERSON: Stephanie Elam is in In L.A. I always think that you've got the best job in the world at this time of the year, I have to say. We've known

each other for a long time. I'm Becky Anderson, from the team here in Abu Dhabi, in London, and in L.A. always have a fantastic job to do. That was

CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching.

END