Return to Transcripts main page


Crews Find Black Boxes from Ethiopian Airlines Crash; Ethiopia, China, Indonesia Ground Boeing 737 MAX 8; Fierce Battle Over Last ISIS Territory on Syria; Theresa May Is Headed to Strasburg For More Brexit Talks; Guaido Requests A National Emergency Over Nationwide Blackout in Venezuela. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 11, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London at the early year time. For the next three weeks then back to normal.

Tonight, planes are grounded after new Boeing airliner crashes in Ethiopia killing all 157 on board. Also, this.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The gunfire is hitting around the corner from us because there's a sniper in the ISIS

building just 200 meters from where we are.


GORANI: CNN reports exclusively from the front line in what could be the final assault on ISIS in eastern Syria.

Plus, no power, no water. Very little food. We report from a Venezuelan hospital at breaking point.

We begin in Ethiopia where 157 people are dead after a plane crashed shortly after take off. Crews have found the flight data recorder and the

cockpit recorders. Investigators hope this will find out why flight 302 crashed. Several countries are grounding the very type of aircraft

involved. That is Boeing 737 Max 8. It's because it's the same model as the lion air jet that crashed last October killing 189 people on board.

There's worries about the airplane itself. We'll be speaking about that with Richard quest. All of this as families and friends from 35 different

countries are trying to come to terms with the loss of their loved one. There's been an outpouring of grief from all over the world including the

U.N. 19 of the victims were United Nations workers. You can see the flag being lowered to half staff. We have the latest from Kenya, where the

plane was headed and Richard Quest is here in the studio with me. Talk to us a bit about what's going on where you.

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've been reporting all day since about 5:30 this morning from this very spot. Because behind me is the

international arrivals launch 157 people ought to have been coming through around about 11 o'clock Sunday just before lunchtime. And of course, we

know now they didn't make it.

At the moment the government is at pains to try and say they are joining with the Ethiopian counterparts. The manager of Ethiopian Airlines here

wants to tell us that this is an airline that flies 300 flights day. It's very safe and this was an anomaly. It shouldn't have happened. The real

tragic stories are beginning to emerge. 22 United Nations workers were involved. We know the Catholic Refugee Council say they have lost

somebody. WFB. You remember that Nairobi is the headquarters of these humanitarian organizations. Many of them would have been flying for very

important U.N. summit on the environment. There's real feeling of despair. 32 Kenyans lost their lives. They know there's 27 of them and are still

yet to find the other five.

Relatives have been telling us all day how they have lost a father or a brother. They are going off to do their burial rituals. They even

promised this idea of closure by the Kenyan government of flying to the site and helping find out where their relatives are through DNA test.

It's a very grim situation. Things are working as usual. We spoke to several people on the very same flight that didn't make it yesterday.

People keep coming through the gates behind me. It seems certain that this kind of bipartisan workmanship between Kenya and Ethiopia will continue.

GORANI: Farai Sevenzo in Nairobi, Kenya. The plane was headed to Kenya. It didn't make it far. Richard Quest is here in the studio with me. We're

talking about this plane. Several countries have grounded this 737 Max-8. Is that much concern?

[13:05:06] RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Oh, yes. The Chinese have got 84 of them in service and several thousand on order, the

Chinese government has said they're not happy. There are too many coincidences. What is interesting is they are talking about an abundance

of safety. If you are going to put safety first by definition you need to ground this plane because there are problems.

GORANI: But we don't know what brought down this plane.

QUEST: The Ethiopians have grounded them as we expected in the Indonesians of course because it was Lion Air that was involved. All we heard from the

Americans, the FAA, and the FAA is the main licensing and certification for this aircraft, all we've heard is there's no reasons yet. There's no new

circumstances that would merit issuing guidance.

GORANI: What we know from witnesses who have spoken to CNN is They saw the plane swerving, dipping and saw smoke come out of it as well. I know we

don't know the content --

QUEST: The swerving, the dipping, that all makes perfect sense.

GORANI: But the smoke?

QUEST: That could be something else. I am not going to sit here and say it was an engine fire. Was merely a reaction to the plane going extreme?

Are they mistaken? All sort of things. The swerving and moving is born out by the ADSB data that shows severe movements of the aircraft.

GORANI: How does that compare to Lion Air the crash that killed 189 people last year?

QUEST: Same.

GORANI: Same pattern. What was the cause of the Lion Air crash?

QUEST: The cause of the crash was the pilot's inability to understand what the plane was doing. The plane was trained, the plane was designed to do

something. If A happens, you do B. If the sensors tell you we're stalling, go down. That's what happened. The pilots hadn't been told

that. They didn't know. It was a new piece of technology. The pilots felt the nose coming down and couldn't bring it back up again. That's not

going to be the same situation here. Every 737 Max pilot now knows about this. It could be something similar. It could be still related to the

MCAS safety system. That's what they're going to be looking at. We'll know pretty quickly. Now they have the black boxes. We'll know this

within days.

GORANI: All right. As Richard, we'll let you go. See you on "Quest Means Business." I'm confused by all this time change. You're on at -- how many

anchors does it take to figure out what time?

QUEST: Two hours from now.

GORANI: See you then. Thank you so much.

Boeing did issue a statement which I was hoping to bring to you if we could bring that up as well. "The investigation is in its early stages. At this

point based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators." This is new guidance to operators of this

plane. All right. A lot more ahead.

You're able to see some remarkable images and very courageous reporting from our colleagues. This is the fight to take the last ISIS territory in

Syria. Take a look.

This was shot only minutes ago in eastern Syria. When US backed Syrian forces began their offensive here last month it was only thought about 500

is fighters remain in the area. It was clear many more than that and many more non-fighters in that tiny enclave that have been streaming out day

after day, after day, into the dusty desert of eastern Syria. Before there particular fire fight started CNN's team ventured out among the shot-up

buildings and abandoned vehicles that represent the last territory controlled by ISIS. Here are images you won't see anywhere else. As

correspondent Ben Wedeman, producer Kareem Khadder, cameraman Scott McWhinnie and team member Adam Dobby take you right into the center of the



BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We were going to go forward but to an area closer to where the ISIS encampment is but because

of this fighting, apparently a battle has broken out. We're not going any further.

[13:10:00] This is as far as we can go at this point. It appears that -- you can see here a gunfire is hitting around the corner from us because

there's a sniper in an ISIS building just 200 meters from where we are. If we were to go around this corner here, we would be exposed here a gunfire

is hitting around the corner from us because there's a sniper in an ISIS building just 200 meters from where we are. If we were to go around this

corner here, we would be exposed to that sniper. Now, Scott is holding the camera around the corner but not going around the corner himself because of

the possibility of getting hit by that sniper. I don't want to go out there.


GORANI: Probably a wise move. Ben Wedeman joins me live. You're meters away from the front line yet it's still possible this could take a while.

Explain why.

WEDEMAN: Because basically there's a worry about the number of civilians still inside. They're going about this very cautiously. Keep in mind that

this is the third time an operation has launched to try to clear out, to finally liberate this last bit of land controlled by the sew called Islamic

state. The other two times they halted after a day or two simply because there were too many civilians inside and they miscalculated time and time

again about how much civilians, let alone ISIS fighters were let inside. What we're seeing as soon as it became dark, the operation intensified yet

again. We're now into its 25th hour. The daylight hours were fairly quiet. Relatively speaking, of course. At some point for about two or

three hours we were able to watch as people moved around inside that encampment. The situation changed and as soon as the sun went down, the

heavy machine gunfire started into that last encampment as well as artillery fire as well. There were some flares above our heads just a

little while ago but they seem to have gone out for now.

GORANI: You mentioned in the piece that you shot with Scotty and others there's a sniper atop the building. How much of these fighters are left?

WEDEMAN: They've given up guessing at this point. What we have seen over the last ten days is hundreds of ISIS fighters have surrendered. They did

surrender. Clearly there's some who are the most fanatical who have decided to fight it out.

GORANI: There are fires. There's an exchange of fire behind you. Can you describe what's going on right now behind you?

WEDEMAN: OK. I will step out of camera so you can get a better look. This is where earlier in the day we had watched people walk around. There

were motorcycles going back and forth. We saw a white truck passing by. There was an ISIS flag in that spot. Listen to this. That was an air

strike. We did a little while ago see some out going tracers as well. Incredibly enough ISIS still has that amount of fire power. We have seen

another air strike. Takes a second for the sound to reach us. They still have fire power. This has been the pattern. During the day, relatively

calm. During the night, fairly intense fire on all fronts and I think I've lost the connection with you.

GORANI: Can you hear me now?

[13:15:18] WEDEMAN: I will not be able to answer any questions. I will continue to talk. We are seeing an intensification of the firing. I'm

going to have to try to redial my connection to you right now. This seems to be a pattern. At night they really go at it. That includes the air

strikes as well. I hear plane above our head. The question is how much longer they can hold out. Nobody wants to venture a guess about how many

fighters are inside. I got the connection back up. If you have another question, shoot away. Yes, I can hear you?

GORANI: Good. That black smoke, are these munition depots, what's on fire there?

WEDEMAN: It's hard to say. It's a very dense area in terms of there are a few buildings. It looks like a wrecking yard for old cars. We've been

watching closely all day long to try to figure out what is in there. There's a lot of tents and inside they dug trenches about a meter and meter

and a half deep. That's where they have been able to hide and get some cover. But if you look at the severity of the bombardment this evening

even that kind of cover probably is not adequate,

GORANI: And the last one on air attacks, airpower here being used, if there are still civilians there, how are they utilizing that particular

weapon from the air? That's a good question. In addition to the airpower, there are drones as well. The drones are keeping a close eye on what could

be down there. We assume some caution is being exercised. What is clear is that for quite some time, ISIS has been using civilians as human shields

as an excuse, a pre-text to hope that some areas might not be hit. What we have learned from speaking with people who did leave this area is that

there have been many civilian fatalities and casualties. I've seen plenty of wounded women and children and they tell us stories of bodies in the

street, body parts in the street of women and children as well. I think there's probably been a very high number of civilian casualties and

fatalities as a result of the ferocity of the airstrikes as well as the artillery, the mortars and the heavy machine gun fire.

GORANI: All right. Ben Wedeman live from eastern Syria. Thanks very much. Ben posted on Instagram pictures of wounded kids. He said this war

is like all wars is on obscenity and we're seeing the last gasps of that battle. Civilians and kids as well bearing the brunt of the disaster that

has unfolded in that country.

We'll have a lot more after the break. Lives are at risk. Doctors are desperate for electricity as Venezuela's black out stretches into another

day. We're live.

Israel's Prime Minister says his country is not state for all of its citizens. He says Israel is a nation state for the Jews only. We'll have

a live report, next.


GORANI: Welcome back. Some breaking news on Brexit. Tomorrow's a big day for Brexit because the Prime Minister will be putting her Brexit deal to

the House of Commons once again. It's a meaningful vote. This time it's something she's promised to do. On the eve of this vote, make or break day

for Theresa May. She's jetting off to Strasbourg. The hope from Theresa May is she'll be able to extract some more concessions on the insurance

policy that aims to ensure that will never be a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The big question is, of course,

if Theresa May's deal is rejected then it's the great unknown. The Prime Minister has said over the last week that she doesn't know what would

happen if her deal is rejected. Where does that leave us? In the dark. We'll have a lot more analysis upon this at the half hour.

Right now, as promised that Venezuela story, the people of Venezuela are suffering

through the country's worst power outage in decades. The self declared interim president is urging the government to declare a national emergency

over the black out. Juan Guaido says more than a dozen states are without power. The opposition leader says Nicolas Maduro is to blame for 17 deaths

during the black out.


JUAN GUAIDO, OPPOSITION LEADER IN VENEZUELA: He is the one making it harder and doing that today. 12 hours ago, we counted 17 murders. We

can't call it any other way. Imagine if within your country you wake to the news there's been four days without electricity because of corruption,

because they steal from electricity plants and 17 people died. That's murder.


GORANI: Paula Newton is with us now from Caracas. Paula, you visited a hospital that's having to find creative ways to provide care to their

patients without electricity.

NEWTON: Yes. I have to be clear, we went to one hospital. There are dozens more. They are coping with the same thing. I have been visiting

hospitals in this country for many years and they have been at the breaking point. Just imagine all of a sudden, the power goes off. Not for five

hours or 15 but we're into day four. The look of terror on the faces of patients and even staff member who are doing their best to try to keep

people alive now. I want you to take a listen.

[13:25:00] The hospital is dark and unusually quiet except for the hum of the generator. That is now the life saving sound track of Venezuela's most

profound black out in decades. We're walking through the hospital corridors. This is the university hospital. It's supposed to be one of

the best. No light. We're escorted in by a doctor who does not want to be identified but says she wants everyone to see this. Patients like Julio.

The generator is below him but services the emergency room. He has no power, no water and meager food. There's nothing, he tells us.

It must be tough, I ask.

He has no words left.

Thin and clearly in pain, he has gangrene. He's been here a month already. His hopes were already fading and now this. Doctors in emergency do the

best they can to triage, supplies already low. Patients in grave condition are watched closely as ventilators are on battery power. Batteries fail.

The numbers take turn doing it manually. Without power this scene is becoming a scene of desertion. A child of an employee wanders the halls.

The pain of so many are acute. Even as they struggle, they learned things could still get so much worse. That's the issue here now. We have some

power restored to the city but it's a country on the edge and the entire system is completely vulnerable.

GORANI: Thanks. Great reporting.

Still to come, down to the wire. The Brexit deadline ticks ever closer. Britain's Prime Minister is off to Strasbourg. Will she be able to extract

anymore concessions from the EU? The latest, next.


GORANI: Well, Prime Minister Theresa May is off to Strasbourg for more talks on her withdrawal agreement. Downing street has not said who she

will be meeting with.

But the European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier are both also expected to be in

Strasburg today so chances are that they will cross paths. Chances are they will do more than that. They will talk about the sticking point.

[13:30:00] The back stop to Northern Ireland insurance policy to make sure no hard border is ever erected between Northern Ireland and the Republic of

Ireland. This comes as Mrs. May is scrambling for concessions on her deal. That would mean she will stand a chance of passing it in Parliament


Bianca Nobilo is outside Westminster, Erin McLaughlin is in Brussels. I am going to start with you Erin because obviously the Prime Minister is going

to Strasburg because she is hoping she will get some sort of concession from Juncker. The EU has said this is battle between you guys. Would the

EU give her something more so this deal is adopted by Parliament tomorrow?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that is the key question at this point. In fact, I was just on the phone with a diplomat

who described what he believes Theresa May hopes to achieve from this last- minute dash. She hopes to meet with the president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker to achieve three things.

The first two is to finalize a deal which she says was agreed to on Sunday which essentially takes the letters written by Tusk and Juncker sent to

Theresa May in early January which provides assurances as to the temporal nature of the backstop. Takes that letter -- or those letters and puts it

into a legal instrument.

Also that deal that was reached on Sunday includes tweaks to the political declaration with respect to alternative arrangements and the seeking of

alternative arrangements for the backstop.

But critically, what she hopes to do according to this E.U. diplomat is to get President Juncker on side with a unilateral declaration that the U.K.

has drafted Theresa May's interpretation of the withdrawal agreement.

And at this point, according to the E.U. diplomat, that is the question, can she get President Juncker on side with that declaration.

HAL GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And, Bianca, I mean, what are you hearing from M.P.s in Westminster? What would it take for those on the

fence still to support this deal?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very difficult to work out which M.P.s are, in fact, on the fence and which are just

opposed to this deal in almost any form that May would present it. But what we've been hearing today is really important when we consider what

kind of changes the prime minister can get and what kind she needs to actually pass her deal.

Bear in mind, the majority that she lost by last time was 230. She needs to get a large amount of her back benches on site. We know that there was

a majority in favor of replacing the backstop with alternative arrangements.

Now, the members of the ERG, the vanguards of the Brexiteers that I spoke to really felt that they were hearing out of Brussels, what the attorney

general was negotiating with his E.U. counterparts didn't even come close to what they were looking for. They said he was looking at a convoluted

arbitration mechanism. They said that is not what we asked for. That is not replacing the backstop. So they felt very strongly that May hadn't

actually gone to the E.U. and asked for what they instructed her to do. That is the feeling here.

And Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading Brexiteer said in the House of Commons earlier today, it seems the case that it's easier to leave the E.U. than

leave the backstop. And that I think really captures the concern that Brexiteers have that Britain will be locked in this in the future and they

want guarantees that the U.K. will be able to get out of it.

GORANI: And are there -- I mean, what's the expectation from the people you're speaking to? Your sources in Brussels, Erin, for tomorrow. This

meaningful vote. What did they say they believe could happen and what impact they could have on the withdrawal itself which is still scheduled to

happen March 29th?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think there's some serious pessimism here in Brussels as to whether or not Prime Minister May is going to be able to achieve what

she set out to do which is to get this deal across the line and say that anything she gets out of Strasbourg, they believe will not fundamentally

contradict the terms of the withdrawal agreement.

Therefore, it seems very unlikely that she'll be able to get a majority to back this deal tomorrow. And there's a fair bit of pessimism as to what

that might mean. As the diplomat I was just talking to said that he believes that a hard Brexit is the most likely outcome at this point. That

is the mood here in Brussels. They're very frustrated and they're very concerned, but they're not willing to compromise fundamentals here at this


GORANI: So the expectation, Bianca, from people who have been covering this story for a long time is that Theresa May will not get meaningful

concessions from the E.U. because every time she's tried, she's failed. There's really no real reason for it to be different this time. Unless you

go to March 28th and then maybe at the 11th hour there'll be something. But now, there's no real reason for it to happen.

So let's assume the deal stays pretty much the way it is and it is not adopted. It fails to pass in parliament tomorrow, Bianca. Where do we go

from there?

NOBILO: Well, technically where we go from there is where May's deal is rejected in that scenario tomorrow. Then the following day, there would be

a vote on whether or not to approve a no-deal scenario. We can reasonably assume that that would be rejected, then the following day, Thursday, there

would be a vote on whether or not to ask the E.U. for an extension.

Now, even though it was hopeful that May's deal, even if it failed tomorrow would be rejected by less humiliating margin. There's a lot of whispers

today in Westminster that they do expect to triple digit to feat for that deal.

So really what the calculation will come down to is, yes, it's unlikely that May will get the meaningful concessions that Brexiteers will want to

see. But that will be weighed up in their own minds against whether or not, if they vote against the deal, they increase the chances of an

extension and then all of the uncertainty that that would mean where it could potentially lead to a softer Brexit along Labour's lines or even a

second referendum.

[13:35:17] So that will be the calculus that they're making, is that if we reject the deal even if we don't like this so-called concession on the

backstop, does that mean that we might lose the Brexit that we fought so hard for?

GORANI: And that's the calculation the prime minister appears to have been making for a while now, which is telling the hardcore of her party. You

don't love this deal, but if you don't vote for it, it's possible that there'll be a delay. A delay will lead to a general election, eventually.

Maybe even another referendum and you'll get no Brexit at all.

Erin, one last one to you. Jean-Claude Juncker. Talk to us a little bit about his relationship with Theresa May. I mean, is he the type of person

that's likely to give her -- I mean, does the E.U. really want this to go through or would they be more comfortable with a delay.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the E.U.'s ideal scenario, and all of this, the easy option is diplomats have called it is for this deal to get through

Westminster. That means to them that there would need to be a small technical delay for it to allow for the full ratification process.

The difficult option is if this deal does not get through Westminster then you go into the question of an extension, extension which the U.K., of

course, has to request.

I'm told by a diplomat that the topic of an extension did come up with Michel Barnier when he briefed E.U. ambassadors earlier today. The feeling

in the room is that an extension to July 2nd was something that they could countenance, it's something that they would consider as long as the U.K.

decides not to run in those parliamentary elections that was kind of seen as the cutoff point.

But beyond that, then you get into really murky legal waters as to whether or not they'd be able to extend beyond that point, especially if the United

Kingdom does not run for M.P.s in the parliamentary election in May.

GORANI: OK. Bianca Nobilo and Erin McLaughlin, thank you very much to both of you. And we'll have special coverage tomorrow on this meaningful


The prime minister there was some talk, perhaps, that she'd pull it because at this point, potentially could feel she doesn't have the backing she


But then it appears as though it has been confirmed, at least from one of junior Brexit ministers today that that vote will go ahead tomorrow. If

it's adopted, that's it. Brexit is going to happen. We enter a transition period. If it's not, then it's the great unknown.

Right now, Britain is still, as I mentioned, said to leave the E.U. on March 29th. The uncertainty of what's going to happen is taking its toll

on those living in Northern Ireland. The only land border of the U.K. and the E.U. And that's where Nic Robertson is and sent us this report from.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (on-camera): Belfast, peaceful. For decades, separating catholic mostly pro-Irish communities

from protestant, mostly pro-British communities. But Brexit may just be changing that historic divide.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): On both sides, murals tell of a bitter violent past. The troubles that took thousands of lives, but as the Brexit

deadline lose, there's common exasperation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even (INAUDIBLE) they just wanted to get on with their legs and do that which is right for their families and worth to knowing

that Brexit has been a mess from start to finish.

ROBERTSON (on-camera): Do you feel that the politicians in Westminster, Theresa May, and cabinet are doing a good job on this so far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not. This has been disastrous. It's been intentions within various parties in Westminster, both the Conservative

Party and Labour Party.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Catholics and Protestants alike have simply had enough.

ROBERTSON (on-camera): What are your thoughts on Brexit at the moment?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just regular scintilla.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not (INAUDIBLE) follow anything. I don't really want know about it.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Among Catholics on the Falls Road, a sense that thanks to Brexit pressing social problems. Drugs in and unemployment are

being neglected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) because they've worked or at least social agent called this club or something.

ROBERTSON (on-camera): You need jobs is the bottom-line.


ROBERTSON: And Brexit is putting those jobs at risk you think?


ROBERTSON (voice-over): On the Shankill road, the protestant heartland, a surprising number of people dismayed with their own representative in the

Democratic Unionist Party.

ROBERTSON (on-camera): And the politicians here, are they handling it well enough?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're worse than what in London.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's getting their own totally. Getting money for nothing. Sitting in their -- sitting in their races. It's ridiculous.

[13:40:59] ROBERTSON (voice-over): Our straw poll on the streets suggest most people from both communities want to keep the border with the south


ROBERTSON (on-camera): Do you think it could make trouble in the security sense as well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think so. I think the days are that sort of being gone.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): While a pharmacist in the catholic area tells us that a hard border, the hard Brexit would be disastrous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That potentially means if lifesaving medicines won't be available to the patients and that's just not acceptable.

ROBERTSON: Among the dozens we spoke to nationalists and unionists, the dominant emotions with weariness and anxiety about Brexit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will happen will happen anyway. It doesn't matter modern class people in this (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTSON: The wall that divides Belfast stretches like a scar across the city. It won't be gone anytime soon. But in the communities, it separates

fatalism. It's eroding the usual factualism as Brexit hurdles towards and as yet unknown conclusion.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Belfast, Northern Ireland.


GORANI: To the Middle East now. Benjamin Netanyahu is under fire from some highly controversial remarks suggesting that Palestinians citizens of

Israel don't really belong there. That it's not their country in essence. The prime minister is not backing down. He's actually doubling down.

It all started on Instagram where Netanyahu said, quote, "Israel is not a state of all of its citizens. He then repeated the inflammatory comments

at his weekly cabinet meeting.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): Israel is a Jewish democratic state. This means that it's the national state of

the Jewish people alone. Of course, it respects the individual rights of all its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, but it is the national state,

not of all its citizens but only of the Jewish people.


GORANI: Well, there are 1.8 million Arab-Israelis. The prime minister of the country is telling them your -- this is not really your country.

Israel's, who's a longtime rival of Netanyahu rebuked the remarks on Twitter. He posted in both English and Arabic that there are no first

class citizens of Israel.

Melissa Bell is live in Jerusalem with more. What I found interesting, Melissa, is that the prime minister initially posted this on social media

on his Arabic feed saying Israel is the nation's state of the Jewish people and only it.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And this is really set the internet alight. We are, of course, in an election period here,

Hala, in Israel, looking ahead to next month's. Very difficult election for Benjamin Netanyahu who he is not leading in the polls for the first

time in years.

And it was in response to what happened in an initial post on Instagram by a very well-known Israeli actress, Rotem Sela, who'd been responding to

what she's been watching on T.V. that night, the campaigning of a Netanyahu loyalist and she said, look, it's time that politicians told the people of

Israel that all its citizens are its citizens and that they will matter, not just for Jews but the Arabs as well.

And, of course, you're right to point this out. The Palestinian citizens of Israel make up nearly 20 percent of its population. These are

Palestinians who were -- who became Israeli citizens after the 1948 war. So they are a substantial proportion of the electorate, of the population,

of the citizens of this country and Benjamin Netanyahu who immediately jumped on that post, both during that cabinet meeting and in those social

media post to say those highly controversial remarks that, yes, we respect the citizens of Israel.

But let's be clear, this is the nation stage of only the Jewish people. Now, the response has been fairly fast, fairly furious. We spent the day

in a mixed area. One of those many Israeli towns where there are both Jews and Arabs living and we spoke to people who said, look, this is politicians

stoking up hatred, stoking up fear ahead of an election that we simply do not feel in our day to day lives. We manage to live side by side and we do

not need this from the man who is our prime minister as well.

And it's something also that's been picked up by Palestinian pleasant members. One of them telling CNN that essentially what Benjamin Netanyahu

who has done in this doubling down, in this social media post and in that statement from the cabinet on Sunday is confirming what many of them had

suspected which is that he believes that that so-called Jewish law that was introduced last summer, effectively, makes them second class citizens.

And it is not, Hala, the first time that Benjamin Netanyahu has used inflammatory language ahead of a difficult election. You'll remember that

back in 2015, he did the same saying just on the day of the vote that the Arabs were heading to the polls in droves and calling on his electorate to

do the same. He apologized, of course, the next day. But crucially, Hala, only after he'd won the election.

[13:45:02] GORANI: Melissa Bell, thanks very much with the latest there from Jerusalem.

Still to come tonight, one of the women accused of killing Kim Jong-un's half-brother suddenly finds herself free. The stunning development in the

Kim Jong-nam murder trial is next.


GORANI: I want to bring you some breaking news to you now. Algeria's president is saying he will not seek a fifth term. There were big protest

in the country opposed him seeking a fifth term as president. He has also said, according to the official Algerian news agency, that the elections

have been postponed. Unclear what impact that would have. No clarity, as well, based on the statement that I'm seeing on when elections would be


I'm looking at the urgent alert here that I have. He will not run for a fifth term and he will postpone the presidential elections. Coming from

the presidency quoted by the National News Agency. We'll bring you more when we -- when we get new details on this breaking news. But you'll

remember those big protests apparently have had an impact. And we'll see who, either, among his inner circle or a wider circle of politicians.

We'll then try to seek that post to the president's post in Algeria.

A shock ruling in the murder trial over the killing of Kim Jong-un's half- brother. One of the two women accused of carrying out the attack is now free with the charges dropped. That was a stunning development.

Ivan Watson has the story.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than two years after the brazen assassination of the North Korean

dictator's half-brother, one of the key suspects in the murder is now suddenly free.

Siti Aisyah, a citizen of Indonesia, all smiles after Malaysian prosecutors suddenly dropped murder charges against her.

Malaysian authorities arrested Aisyah and a Vietnamese woman named Doan Thi Huong her after the deadly poisoning of Kim Jong-un's half-brother, Kim


Security cameras filmed what appears to be the two women wiping something on his face in Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Soon after, he died.

Poisoned by VX nerve agent. Both women pleaded not guilty.

Four North Koreans have also been charged with Kim's killing. Their whereabouts are unknown.

Aisyah's unexpected release on Monday, apparently the result of high-level lobbying.

At a press conference, Indonesian officials showed journalists this remarkable correspondence. This undated letter from Indonesia's minister

of law and human rights urges Malaysia's attorney general to set Aisyah free. It argues, quote, "Ms. Aisyah was led to believe that her actions

were for a reality show hence she had no intention of killing Kim Jong- nam."

[13:50:06] On March 8th, the attorney general wrote back saying Aisyah would be set free after quote, "Taking into account the good relations

between our respective countries."

Aisyah's release raises sudden questions about the fate of fellow suspect Doan from Vietnam. A question I raised this month with the Vietnamese

prime minister as he was about to host the North Korean leader.

WATSON (on-camera): Did the North Korean government apologize to Vietnam for the involvement of this Vietnamese woman, Doan Thi Huong, allegedly in

the murder of Kim Jong-nam?

WATSON (voice-over): Doan's attorney is now appealing for her release on the grounds of fairness as her trial resumes this week.

After all, Siti Aisyah just escaped a possible death sentence and is now back home a free woman.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


GORANI: More to come including a football player attacked in the middle of a match. It wasn't another player who swung the punch. Wait until you see

some shocking video. We'll be right back.


GORANI: Well, we don't usually bring you football stories, but this is some crazy video that's got people talking from a football match here in


This is the moment when a Birmingham City supporter invaded the pitch during the match and attacked the player. Just attacked the player from

Aston Villa.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go behind for a corner by Wes Harding.


GORANI: The 27-year-old, Paul Mitchell has been sentenced to 14 weeks in prison. Earlier today, he plead guilty to pitch invasion and common

assault at Birmingham Magistrates' Court. That's what we're hearing from the court's press office. Mitchell has also been given a 10-year ban from

attending football matches. The maximum prison sentence would have been six months.

But the thing is it didn't just happen at that game. It happened at several matches. Just kind of like riotous violence like that against some

of the players. So they're going to have to try to find ways to secure the people. But there was this big stadium accident a few decades ago because

people were hemmed in, in the bleachers and in their seats led to some suffocation deaths.

So as a result, they removed those barriers. But now because there's free access to the pitch, when you have troublemakers, like that guy, the one

who just caused damage, they're free to do so. So they're going to try to find some way of restraining them.

But I want to end as you're waiting for Christiane to come on. I want to bring a feel good story for you now. It's the power of a tweet. Sometimes

tweets are used to hurt feelings and attack people.

Well, Billy By tweeted this pic of his dad, over the weekend, standing all by himself. And he wrote, my dad is sad because no one is coming to his

new donut shop just outside Houston, Texas.

Well, that's apparently all it took to drum up the business. Take a look at the video. His dad has almost run off his feet serving customers after

Billy's tweet went viral. And now has about 600,000 likes and more than 270,000 retweets.

[13:55:14] And here's one final image. Billy later posted this picture of himself with his dad all smiles behind the counter. And most of those

baked goods from that first photo, sold. Good on you, Billy.

Thanks for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. Christiane is next.