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Netanyahu Vows To Annex West Bank Settlements; Polls Show Gantz With Slight Lead Ahead Of Tuesday Vote; Ex-Army Chief Gantz Bidding To Oust Netanyahu; Oman's F.M.: Israelis And Arabs Need To Live In Peace; U.S. Expected To Designate Iran's IRGC As Terrorist Group. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 7, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Whether you want a flat old sandwich or to fix an old pair of shoes loud and colorful, you're

looking at the bustling historic market right here in a town that's been important for just about three thousands odd years, Jerusalem.

And there are about as many things to choose there as there are in the political marketplace in Israel right now in the fight to get control of

the building just behind me here, the Knesset Parliament, and the millions of voters who will be heading out to the polls in less than 48 hours and

counting really have one thing to ask themselves. Do we like this guy or not.

The current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they can choose to crown him as King Bibi set to reign again and become the longest man ever in the job

or will they see the many corruption investigations against him and want to toss him out.

Well, the latest and last numbers have Mr. Netanyahu running just behind in second place. But this is Israel and it's not just about who wins but

who's the best at horse trading after to actually build a government.

And as you join us for a special CONNECT THE WORLD, we are seeing part of that in these final hours with Mr. Netanyahu turning to his own playbook

lurching to the right to try and grab some extra votes. Have a listen to this.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL (through translator): In my opinion, each block is an Israeli area and is under the Israeli control.

We the Israeli government have responsibility of these areas. I won't move these blocks to the Palestinian Authority.


ANDERSON: We are following reaction in the region from both Israelis and Palestinians. CNN's Oren Liebermann out about at that market in Jerusalem.

First, though, let's go to our Michael Holmes who is in the West Bank. And you are in what is one of the largest settlements in the area. How are

people on both sides of this divide responding to this latest salvo on annexation from the Prime Minister?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you pointed out, Becky, it's Benjamin Netanyahu doing it again just hours out from an election. He did

it last time by saying Palestinians were coming to vote and droves to sort of fire up his base. To give you a sense on where I am and paint a bit of

a picture for you, this is Ma'ale Adumim. It is as you said one of the biggest settlements in the West Bank. It became a settlement in 1977.

Around 40,000 people live here now. And it has grown a lot since 1977. And that is partly what Palestinians complain about.

They say that the way it is growing geographically, it is being deliberately set up to be a blocker for

Palestinians who want to come from the West Bank to Jerusalem. And so it's been controversial for that reason.

And now under any possible peace plan were there to magically be one, this is one of the major settlement blocks that would almost certainly be

incorporated into Israel non-negotiable in many ways. The other ones could be (INAUDIBLE) and also Gush Etzion as well, big settlements. Thousands of

people right up on the border there that would be incorporated into Israel.

But that's not what Benjamin Netanyahu was talking about yesterday. He said all settlements large and small. Becky, there are 130 or so of them

dotted around the West Bank and were Israel to suddenly annex them, call them part of Israel, that would pretty much spell the end to any sort of

viable, contiguous Palestinian state going forward.

You would have little cantons, little islands of Palestinian territory in that case because of how the settlements are dotted right throughout the

West Bank. As for people here, they're fine with it because they're going to be -- they would be incorporated into Israel in any deal anyway but it's

all those other settlements.

You made the point and it's right, it is a lurch to the right. What Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to do in these last few hours, he's got to

perform well head-to-head with Benny Gantz and his Blue and White Party so that the president says, you won by enough to be able to go and form a

government. You will have the coalition partners to get to that magical number of 61.

What he's doing now is trying to pull votes from some of those right-wing parties, the smaller parties to try to get their voters to vote for him to

improve his head-to-head odds. Now, there's a risk in that, Becky, because there is a threshold in Israeli politics. If your party doesn't get 3.25

percent of the vote, you don't get any seats in the Knesset.

The risk for Benjamin Netanyahu is that he pulls votes from those smaller parties. Fine, he might pick up a couple of seats that they would have

gotten. But if I don't get that 3.25 percent, they don't get any seats. And when it comes to coalition building they're not going to be there to

support him. So it's a bit of a gamble. It's perhaps predictable for Benjamin Netanyahu to do something like this so close to the election but

it is risky as well, Becky.

[11:05:37] ANDERSON: Let's talk about strategy in a moment. I want to get back to you. Let me first though get to Oren who is in (INAUDIBLE). Oren,

what I understand, largely Netanyahu's supporters, (INAUDIBLE) supporters, what's the response there to his comments?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is very much a Likud stronghold, the Mahane Yehuda Market. In fact, there was another

political party rally just a short way away from us a short time ago trying to drum up some support for a different party. And one of the sellers here

simply yelled at him over and over again Bibi, Bibi, Bibi. And that gives you the idea of where everybody here will be voting.

This is where Netanyahu has strong, steadfast support. And we can we can get that just by talking to the people around us who if we walk a little

bit here, we'll take a step here.

Some here are a little shyer than others when it comes to who they're voting for but I suspect the majority of those here will say it's Likud,

it's Netanyahu. His comments, what they expect from him, his comma is just another reason to support Netanyahu. So that hasn't changed anything. If

anything it has strengthened Netanyahu's support, what he already had.

There is supposed to be a Likud rally here with some of the politicians here, but that intramurally style occurs be running just a few minutes late


ANDERSON: So Oren, what's the strategy here?

LIEBERMANN: For Netanyahu, those comments -- and we expected it. We expected a sharp move to the Right right before the election. We saw it in

2015 with his comment on the eve of the election that there would be no Palestinian state under him. We're seeing it again with his comments

(INAUDIBLE) not only to summon blocks but also the isolated settlements.

And Michael touched on this. It's the idea that if he doesn't have the biggest party, the President of Israel Reuven Rivlin who has a notoriously

bad relationship with the Prime Minister might allow Netanyahu's rival to put together a government. And it seems like Netanyahu is responding to

that concern and trying to pull right-wing voters from other smaller right- wing parties.

He'd been sensitive about that until now. He had left the other right-wing party sort of have four, five, six seats. Now it seems like he's trying to

pull those votes. The risk of course as Michael pointed out, as he puts them under the electoral threshold, he loses coalition partners unless he

sucks up every single one of those votes which doesn't seem to be likely.

For Netanyahu though, it looks like he now wants to have the biggest party on Tuesday, April 9th in just a couple of days. That looks like the

strategy here. There is a risk here. Again, it is that risk that he forces his coalition partners as potential coalition partners under that

electoral threshold. In a sense, Netanyahu may shoot himself in the foot with the comet but of course, we'll see.

ANDERSON: Michael, Jordan's Foreign Minister yesterday and echoing the position by not just Palestinians but by millions in the Arab and wider

Muslim world. Israel must and he said, withdraw from Arab lands occupied since 1967 and allow the creation of a Palestinian state. This is a red

line and not a viable diplomatic move according to millions of people.

There is a suggestion that this could be just a ruse at this point, a ploy by Benjamin Netanyahu were he to build the biggest coalition and carry on

as Prime Minister. There is, of course, the option for him never to come good on this statement or suggestion, correct?

HOLMES: Yes, absolutely he could do what he likes if he wins the election. And let's remember too, this is a prime minister who's not really on record

as being a fan of a Palestinian state anyway. I mean, at the last election he said there wouldn't be a Palestinian state on his watch. And certainly,

if he annexes all of a settlement, all 130 or so of them, there's not going to be a viable Palestinian state.

Anyway, the interesting thing, we spent a bit of time with Benny Gantz and the Blue and White Party which of course in the last polls on Friday was up

just against Benjamin Netanyahu in their head-to-head, Palestinians can't really take much comfort from his positions either. We asked him

specifically about his position when it comes to the Palestinians, he said his position is Jerusalem is for Israel. Israel will maintain security

control of the Jordan Valley. He said no going back to 67 borders and he said there's no one to negotiate with on the Palestinian side.

[11:10:06] So if you are on the Palestinian side, that's not exactly heartening when that's coming from the other major power in this election.

The other thing that is interesting in that is we spent time with the Arab Party, the Arab-Israeli parties, and the Palestinians basically, and what

they were telling us too is that they don't want to be in a coalition with either side but they would likely support Benny Gantz in the Blue and White

in the Knesset.

So they're not going to join a coalition. Gantz says he doesn't want Israeli Arab parties in his coalition. Of course, Benjamin Netanyahu

doesn't either. But they are 17 to 20 percent of the electorate. They could conceivably win if they turn out ten or eleven seats. That's a

pretty decent block in the Knesset.

Now even if they're not the coalition, if they go to the President Rivlin and say we will support Mr. Gantz in the Knesset, that's a pretty

reassuring thing for him when it comes to the power in the Knesset.

So the other factor to remembering this too, many Palestinians are calling for a boycott of this election. I say what's the point when you look at

what's happened to us, what's likely to happen to us, what the positions of the major parts, let's not vote. So you've got the sort of Israeli Arab

politicians out, there saying yes, please vote. It does matter. Your vote does count. We get eight to 11 seats. That is quite a weapon in the

Knesset. And when it comes to what happens when the polls close on Tuesday and that horse-trading begins, Becky.

ANDERSON: Oren, his critics say that Benjamin Netanyahu has spent more time courting strong nationalistic leaders around the world in the run-up

to this campaign in an effort to shore up support for isolating Iran than dealing with what they say is this existential threat that is this Israeli-

Palestinian issue. So many might say they are surprised that he's put this right back on the agenda as it were with just 48 hours to go. Could this

all backfire on him?

LIEBERMANN: Well, I don't think there's any risk that the Palestinian issue on the agenda will come back in a way that will hurt him. There

isn't going to be somebody in Israeli politics, at least on a major player who comes out and says yes, there's going to be peace here shortly. So I

don't expect him to hurt him in that sense.

Netanyahu, in terms of the criticism that he courts, these sort of strongman leaders, I don't think that's criticism he's afraid of in that

sense. We saw it over the last few weeks. We saw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair

Bolsonaro is here. He just went to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has close relationship with these.

That's one issue his foreign policy, the other as you pointed out is Iran and doing everything possible to combat Iran especially in the lead-up to

this election.


LIEBERMANN: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the fight of his political life. In his corner in the boxing ring of Israeli politics, he

has the heavyweights. President Donald Trump has made it clear his choice is Netanyahu.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- that have taken place many decades ago.

LIEBERMANN: U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, a political gift between longtime friends. In the weeks before the

election, Netanyahu has visited Trump in Washington, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the Trump of

the tropics also came to Jerusalem for the first time.

The meetings all part of Netanyahu's campaign strategy to show off his foreign policy achievements while distracting from perhaps Netanyahu's

biggest challenge, a series of corruption investigations he faces.


LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu has borrowed a page from Trump's playbook decrying the investigation as a media-fuelled witch-hunt while proclaiming his


TRUMP: Bibi, it's an honor to have you in the Oval Office.

LIEBERMANN: But while Trump's biggest concerns about the Mueller report never materialized, Netanyahu's have. The Attorney General has said he

intends to indictment Netanyahu on bribery and breach of trust charges in three separate cases. Any indictment won't come until after the elections

as Netanyahu seeks a fifth term in office.

If he wins, if his big endorsements can beat out his looming indictments, it would make him Israel's longest-serving Prime Minister.


LIEBERMANN: I had said this was a Likud stronghold and of course I managed to find the one guy who was shy in the market. Let me make that point this


He says he's voting Likud, he's voting Netanyahu. He's not voting for Netanyahu, he's voting for the party.

[11:15:01] Actually an interesting answer. He said, he will always vote Likud but he doesn't want to specifically endorse Prime Minister Benjamin

Netanyahu because he wants answers as to all the questions he's facing the corruption investigations but he is steadfast Likud. This, as I said

before, is a Likud stronghold. Here many will vote for Netanyahu even if they don't support him individually.

ANDERSON: Oren Liebermann in the markets and Michael on the West Bank for you. To both of you, thank you. Let's get you a little look, see through

these newspapers here. Israel's largest paper Yedioth has Gantz on the left under chance -- of chance and Netanyahu himself under keep the


The Jerusalem Post focusing on the news of the day and all that we've just been discussing. And lastly, Haaretz the so-called thinking man's

newspaper avoiding the election it may seem but perhaps not quite splashing all over the Bibi damaged the country by revealing intelligence information

about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

An awful lot to digest here. This is CONNECT WORLD live for you from Jerusalem. Still to come, from Bibi to Benny. We take a closer look at

Mr. Netanyahu's main challenger Benny Gantz and speak to a member of his Blue and White Party. That after this.


ANDERSON: So Benjamin Netanyahu is seen as strong on security but the man in pole position to possibly unseat him is his former military chief. In

the last few months, army general Benny Gantz has emerged as the main challenger to the incumbent Prime Minister running under the banner of the

Blue and White alliance. So who is he? Our Michael Holmes explains.


HOLMES: The man who wants to be Israel's next prime minister Benny Gantz, he served as his country's military chief under the incumbent Prime

Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Together they led the country through two wars in Gaza but that hasn't stopped Netanyahu's Likud Party from slamming

Gantz on the campaign trail.

[11:20:16] Gantz has fired back at those who say he might have military credentials but no political experience particularly on the world stage.

BENNY GANTZ, PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE, ISREAL: Even high said to his prime ministers before, presidents before, chief of staff before, what are you

talking? Is my starting point anywhere was then what was Netanyahu 13 or 15 years ago?

HOLMES: Security is always the main issue in Israeli elections and Gantz has support from former defense chiefs and frontline soldiers. Alon

Ziderman was a paratrooper in the 2014 Gaza war. He had no direct contact with the then chief of staff but the impression Benny Gantz made on him was

a factor in his decision to support him.

ALON ZIDERMAN, STUDENT: I think that Israelis vote their prime minister because of his security backgrounds. And I think that with Benny Gantz and

his partners, former -- three former chief of staffs, I think he has that covered.

HOLMES: Then there's Ehud Barak, former prime minister and his country's most decorated soldier.

EHUD BARAK, FORMER PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: Benny after all said for many years in the meetings of the cabinet in government meetings discussing the

most critical issues of the country. So he's much better prepared than Bibi when he came to power.

HOLMES: In Tel Aviv, Gantz wooing voters in the homestretch. He's neck- and-neck with Netanyahu in the latest polls but Israeli politics isn't about head to head. Neither man will win outright. And it's all about who

can form a coalition with nearly a dozen smaller parties.

Gantz is hitting the campaign trail hard in these final few days before the election. He may have risen to the very top of Israel's defense hierarchy

but he's got less than a week now to convince voters to put him in charge of the country. Michael Holmes, CNN Tel Aviv.


ANDERSON: Let's bring in Ofer Shelah, a member of the Knesset Security and Foreign Affairs Committee and political ally of Benny Gantz. He's running

as a Blue and White candidate on choose then joins us now from Tel Aviv. I want to start with what you make of Netanyahu's pro-annexation comments in

what are the dying hours of this campaign, sir.

OFER SHELAH, MEMBER, KNESSET SECURITY AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: I think most of all, those proclamations by Prime Minister Netanyahu indicate

how desperately he is. He turns to the farthest extremes of the right-wing base in a vain attempt to gain their sympathy or they vote promising to do

something that he didn't do for the ten years -- consecutive years that he's been Prime Minister up until now.

So it only shows that Netanyahu is desperate because he knows that he's going to lose the elections Tuesday.

ANDERSON: Well, it's certainly a dramatic policy shift from a man who has certainly the past promoted Jewish settlement expansion but laying out such

a detailed vision and as controversial as this you're suggesting a ploy for votes not a genuine change of heart, correct?

SHELAH: Definitely. Netanyahu -- you know, for the past four years Netanyahu headed what he called the most right-wing government in Israel's

history. He could have done this if he really believed in this. I don't know what Mr. Nathaniel believes in anymore except for personal

perseverance and personal even you know, just avoiding being dragged into court for corruption indictments. So I think even his voters don't really

believe that he means what he said.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about peace with the Palestinians then. President Trump says he will release what he calls the deal of the century sometime

after the elections. (INAUDIBLE) former chief of your internal Intelligence Agency Shin Bet has criticized how little this is actually

being talked about during the election campaign. Instead your leader, Benny Gantz, he's focusing on corruption in the current administration. I

want to get Blue and White's position on any peace agreement with the Palestinians, sir.

SHELAH: Our position is that Israel needs to separate itself from the Palestinians in order to maintain its identity as the Jewish democratic

state on the one hand and maintain and keep all of its security interests on the other hand. I think we should utilize for that a regional framework

if you will, taking into account the vast changes that happened in the region for the past eight years.

And I think -- I know very little about Mr. Trump's deal of the century, but I think it is within this regional framework and we need to do that in

order to both establish Israel's place in the Middle East visa vie Syria and Iran, other questions, and the move once again, start moving towards

separation from the Palestinian keeping in mind and holding steadfast to all of the Israel's security needs.

[11:25:00] ANDERSON: So is this -- are we talking to a two-state solution here?

SHELAH: Look, the final status I think is going to be two states. The -- I don't know that the Palestinian state will be a fully -- full-blown State

as you think of it. I think it should be demilitarized. There are many, many details here and they are very, very complex.

But you have to -- we have to face the fact. Nothing is moved on the -- nothing substantial has moved on the Israeli-Palestinian front for many

years and this is not solely we blame Mr. Netanyahu for not doing much but this is not solely his fault. We have to ask ourselves what's happening in

normal of these days.

We think we need to move ahead for Israel's interests for both the security and its future as the Jewish democratic state. We think we should take the

initiative. And I think -- and I do believe that whatever Mr. Trump's offer would be on the table, it'll be a good place to start.

ANDERSON: All right, OK, let's move on then. The final pre-election polls certainly look good for your party saying that you are likely to win 28 of

the 32 seats. But you will need support from Orthodox parties to form a coalition and they say they won't work with you.

One of the leaders of those parties says and I quote, I'm not a rightist. The ones who help the Haredim orthodox community most are the left, but I'm

going with the right. What can you do? I won't go with them, meaning your Blue and White Party. If the goal -- if the poles turn out to be correct,

will you be able to secure a coalition?

SHELAH: I don't know but the poles haven't been that correct and Israeli politics for a while but I'll tell you this. What we working for is a

five-six seat margin and we think it's possible, we know it's possible, a five six-seat margin between Blue and White and Likud. That means over two

hundred thousand Israelis, more than Likud voters that will say they want Benny Gantz as Prime Minister coupled with the fact that Netanyahu won't be

able to form a block of 61 seats in his favor.

All of that will be at the president's feet when he makes the decision and the Israeli system is that the president calls upon a member of Knesset and

gives them science and the task of forming a government. And once that task is assigned to Benny Gantz, I believe, we believe, and I've been

faction chief of the Yesh Atid Party for the last six years. I know the house very well.

All of those people are right now telling us for political reasons, for campaign reasons, that they will not sit with us will come talking because

they want to be in the coalition. I'm not saying they'll all be in the coalition, but we firmly believe that if assigned the task Benny Gantz will

be able to form a government.

ANDERSON: And what is the one priority for Benny Gantz should he be able to form a coalition and run this country going forward? What would his

number-one priority be?

SHELAH: Well, there are many things that we've specified in our platform. All of them ARE important. But I'll tell you one thing that's for me

personally and I think for Benny -- I've known Benny Gantz for many years. We served in the Paratrooper Corps 40 years ago. He went on to an

illustrious career in the army, I sunk as low as journalism so we went separate ways.

But I'll tell you this. The one thing that we need to restore is the Israeli public's belief in the political system and in politicians in

general, the mere simple fact that politicians get up every day to work for you the average citizen -- and that was damaged by Netanyahu's behavior in

the past three or four years ever since the investigations against him started in a way that is hazardous to Israel's democracy.

I think that'll be our number one priority and all of those other things beginning with the Palestinian question and internal affairs that we've

talked about throughout the campaign.

ANDERSON: With that, we're going to leave it there, sir. Thanks for -- thanks for joining us and for your barbed comments on journalism. We

appreciate your time, sir.

SHELAH: Thank you, Becky. Thanks for having me.

[11:30:00] ANDERSON: Ofer Shelah, Knesset member, thank you very much indeed. So we brought you what both leading parties now think on those

annexation comments. Up next we want to look at the legality of this pledge, and if Mr. Netanyahu will be able to deliver it, should he decide

that that's what he wants to do? That after this.


ANDERSON: We're living with thousands of years of history in Jerusalem. It's the hours we are counting down right now until Israeli voters head to

the polls in what is being seen as a referendum of sorts on the leadership of the incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with less than two days

ago, he's trying to rally right-wing voters, saying that if he is re- elected, he vows to extend Israeli's sovereignty across all Israeli settlements in the West Bank. That would include developments such as this

next one, in the city of Ariel. We took a look at that in 2017.


LIEBERMANN: The city of Ariel is growing. One of the largest Israeli settlements in the West Bank. A new neighborhood slated for this hilltop.

The city's university has 15,000 students and a sense of permanence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved 1,000 homes here and promised more.

NETANYAHU (through translator): There is no way that Ariel won't be part of the state of Israel. It will be part of Israel forever.


[11:34:56] ANDERSON: Well, I want to dig deeper into this annexation move in to very different side. Let's bring in Eugene Kontorovich. He's the

director of International Law at Kohelat Policy Forum, joining us out of New York this hour.

And we also have Tamar Hostovsky Brandes, she is a senior lecturer at Ono Academic College, joining us live from Tel Aviv. And let's start with you

today. What do you make of Mr. Netanyahu's words on annexation?

TAMAR HOSTOVSKY BRANDES, SENIOR LECTURER, INTERNATIONAL LAW, ONO ACADEMIC COLLEGE: Well, first, I wouldn't make too much of declarations made a few

days ahead of election. And I think it's time -- I mean, as everyone has said before that Mr. Netanyahu has been able to make this move for many,

many years now and has chosen not to do so. And obviously, the question of annexation -- alleged annexation of the West Bank involves not just land,

involved -- it affects the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people, it affects the human rights of Palestinian residents in the

territory. So, I wouldn't read too much into a declaration made at this point in time.

ANDERSON: Eugene, your thoughts.

EUGENE KONTOROVICH, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL LAW, KOHELAT POLICY FORUM: I agree with Tamar that what politicians promise two days before the election

is not always the best guide for what's going to happen. But I do think it's important that Prime Minister Netanyahu is beginning to change the

narrative. And he's beginning to insist that it's unacceptable that in the area of Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, the historical homeland of the

Jews that, that should be a Judenrein area.

And the only way we know for Jews to be able to live safely in these areas is under Israeli sovereignty. And he's saying this talk of kicking out

Jews from their homes making certain areas Jew-free, that's not something my government's going to be part of. Whatever the details are, it's an

important narrative change.

ANDERSON: These are occupied land so far as the Palestinians are concerned. This is one assumes possibly part of a deal going forward for

peace. Certainly, a part of the narrative.

Look, Netanyahu may be serious, it may just be an election ploy. Eugene, if you are applauding this move, even at the expense of the potential for a

major crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations, do you not believe this move could destroy any prospect of a negotiated peace through this deal of the century

as it's been known.

KONTOROVICH: So, I don't think the Israeli government is likely to act at all before the deal of the century is put forward. I think the

Palestinians are going to have one more chance to accept a state. The Palestinians are the only national independence movement to ever have

turned down internationally recognized independence in any part of the territory they seek for a state.

The Kurds haven't done that, Israel didn't do that, even though, it first achieved a state in a small part of the territory it sought. The

Palestinians are going to have one more chance to accept a state.

I think if they don't, the train is going to be leaving the station and they cannot keep this area in suspension. They cannot keep its status on

hold while they turn down offer after offer.

ANDERSON: Tamar, how do you respond to those comments?

HOSTOVSKY: Well, I agree with Eugene that to a large extent, this is about changing the narrative. But I think that one needs to understand that this

is actually about an internal Israeli narrative.

So, the current internal Israeli narrative that Mr. Netanyahu is trying to present is to a large extent that whatever the future of the territories

is, it is going to be a decision made by Israelis unilaterally. And I think that is what the narrative he is trying to push, and I think that is

a very problematic narrative both from apolitical and from a legal standpoint. So, I think it is much about the narrative, but I think, it's

very much an internal Israeli debate.

ANDERSON: If -- as we said that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has for decades been the main fault line in Israeli politics. But as my colleague

points out on, Oren, says this time if issues like security for which read the threat of Iran in Syria, the Israeli economy; most of all

the criminal investigations against Netanyahu that have dominated the headlines again suggesting that these comments, this statement on

annexation, and an effort to push the conflict that he knows he can get support on back into focus in these sort of dying embers of this campaign?

KONTOROVICH: But we know -- we know, that the United States has said that it will put forward its peace plan shortly after the election. So, I think

it's natural and important for the government of Israel to set forth what its position is going to be on that. And, in particular, on what happens

if this peace plan fails, which is likely to do regardless of its contents because every prior peace plan has failed.

And I should say that -- you know, the left and the opposition Gantz's party has also not been very focused on the Palestinian issue. The -- so,

we don't know what's going to happen, but I think, Prime Minister Netanyahu is setting the stage for the peace plan which he's going to have to deal

with even before a new government has formed.

[11:40:09] ANDERSON: Turn to Jordan's foreign minister yesterday. And I was with him echoing the position not just of Palestinians, but of millions

in the Arab and wider Muslim world that Israel must withdraw from Arab lands occupied since 1967, and allow the creation of a Palestinian state.

This is a red line and not a viable diplomatic move so far as the Jordanians and many, many others are concerned.

This is an occupation they say to which Israeli politicians will say what at this point.

KONTOROVICH: It's particularly rich coming from the Jordanians, who themselves occupied the West Bank from 1949 to 1967. When they did that,

they kicked out every single Jew from the territory.

Now, they're saying that they don't want there to be any more Jews there forever. That position is illegitimate. Israel is not interested in

listening to them. And Israel made peace in 1994 with Jordan.

From an international law perspective, any situation of occupation that might have existed -- and I don't think there was one is over the moment a

peace treaty is signed. Jordan signed that peace treaty, they know there's a peace treaty, you can't have an occupation which arises in states of war

after a peace treaty. And certainly, the Jordanians shouldn't be giving lectures on occupying the West Bank, they invented that.


HOSTOVSKY: Well, the consensus has been forever that whatever the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs to be, it needs to be

by the resolution that will be reached through dialogue. It cannot be on unilateral move.

I don't think any unilateral declaration talking about one-sided annexation that doesn't address at all the issue of the human rights and the future of

the residents of that territory can be taken seriously.

I don't think it can be taken seriously politically. I don't think it can be taken seriously legally. I think it is trying to make a statement and

recruit voters from certain side of the political map three days before the election.

And I think that to a large extent that really -- that really is all it is. And regarding this last -- Eugene's last comment, yes, there is this new

wave, new doctrine that has coming up in recent years, saying, "Actually, this is not an occupied territory."

Israel in itself in the Israeli Supreme Court has regarded that the territories as land that the law occupation applies to them even if it

doesn't (INAUDIBLE) occupied territory. This has been the league -- This has been --


KONTOROVICH: Parts of the law. Israel has said that it's voluntarily applying parts of law of occupation.

ANDERSON: Hold on -- hold on, Eugene.

HOSTOVSKY: Yes, but these has been the legal framework -- this has been the legal framework since -- you know, since you got -- since territory was

occupied until today. So that very, very aggressive attempt to change the narrative completely.

I agree with Eugene that this is what it is, but I think it should also be called out as what it is.

ANDERSON: We'll have to leave it there. We'll have you two back. Thank you very much indeed. Eugene Kontorovich.


ANDERSON: The director of International Law at Kohelat Policy Forum and Tamar Hostovsky Brandes, she is senior lecturer at Ono Academic College in

Tel Aviv. Pleasure having you both on.

A robust discussion time, and again, people here telling me, Benjamin Netanyahu makes Israel look powerful. What with him rubbing shoulders with

the likes of the American and Russian presidents. And they kind of like it. Well, get this he is even narrowing the gulf between himself and some

unlikely royals. We'll tell you who, up next.


[11:45:49] ANDERSON: Welcome back. You join us for a special edition of CONNECT WORLD from Jerusalem. And if you just joining us, you are more

than welcome in the final run-up to Israel's election on Tuesday.

Benjamin Netanyahu's talk of annexation is seen by many as just a ploy to drum up votes from the right wing by others. As delivering another blow to

any prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Well, the Palestinian issue used to stand in the way of Israel and ties to the gulf. Well, now there are signs that could be changing. A regional

gathering of the world economic forum; Oman's foreign minister urged Arabs to reassure Israel that it is not under threat in the Middle East. I sat

down with him and asked him about the changing relationship.


ANDERSON: Are you suggesting it is time to normalize relations with Israel? And do you have any red lines?

YUSUF BIN ALAWI BIN ABDULLAH, FOREIGN MINISTER, OMAN: I think we are -- No, we are beyond normal relations.

ANDERSON: By that, you mean what?

BIN ALAWI: Israel needs to live in peace with Arabs. And the Arabs wants to see Palestinian state minister.


ANDERSON: Well, that is a far cry from how things once were talk of being far beyond normalizing ties. For decades, gulf countries shunned Israel.

There were no lines of communication and it turns out with hostility. We take a look at what is then behind this shifting relationship.


ANDERSON: It's not the sound of peace but it's far from the sound of war. You're listening to the Israeli national anthem playing in an Arab country.

Here, for the first time in the United Arab Emirates at a judo tournament.

An olive branch maybe not, but important first steps. Next door in Oman, the Switzerland of the Middle East, a warm handshake and smiles. It's

Sultan welcoming an Israeli leader for the first time in decades.

BIN ALAWI (through translator): Israel is a state present in the region and we all understand this. The world is also aware of this and maybe it

is time for Israel to be treated the same, and to also bear the same obligations.

ANDERSON: Then, this. President Trump signing away the contentious Golan Heights to Israel. The strategic land in southern Syria once an Arab

rallying cry and call to action. This time, a more muted set of words.

SALMAN BIN ABDULAZIZ AL SAUD, KING OF SAUDI ARABIA: We reiterate our absolute refusal of procedures which aim to infringe upon Syria's

sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

ANDERSON: Once upon a time, you'll remember the Saudis shut off their oil taps to the world, denouncing support for Israel.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, the old saying goes. But the Saudis and Israel find common ground in their anti-Iran rhetoric. Nowadays, this

their greater threat it seems. Still though while the sides are closer than ever, they're far from close.

Perhaps, less important than it once was to them, but still the most important the still-roiling Palestinian conflict. Something Gulf state's

keen to see resolved.

BIN ALAWI: I would like to clearly say that we call, ask, and assure that the main role in this matter depends on the U.S.'s role and on what Donald

Trump will do in what is known as deal of the century. And we are working on this because we want this effort to result in a solution.

ANDERSON: The American president's son-in-law, touring at the Middle East. Promoting America's still to be revealed deal of the century. The Gulf's

powerful leaders insisting there is no not a wink going on.

[11:50:07] TURKI BIN FAISAL AL SAUD, FOUNDER, KING FAISAL FOUNDATION'S CENTER: If the Israeli's want to show that there is some sort of under-

the-table handshake between the kingdom and Israel, it does not exist. It's really is a figment of their imagination.

ANDERSON: What there seems to be, though, is a real politic nod between the Arabs and the Israelis that both are here to stay and they should be

more realistic neighbors.


ANDERSON: Well, let's get you back from Israel's upcoming election just a moment to (INAUDIBLE) with so many of the stories that were on our radar

this hour. The U.S. is expected to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terror group, as early as next week.

And now, an Iranian official, threatening to classify the U.S. military as a terrorist organization. Both the U.S. and Iran, of course, accuse each

other of killing innocent people.

But at least, five people were killed in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Saturday during demonstrations, calling for President Omar al-Bashir to

step down.

Doctors say there at -- were at least 26 others wounded in what could have been the biggest anti-government rally since demonstrations began in


And Libya's Western-backed government is launching a counter-offensive to defend Tripoli after a renegade general order this troops to advance into

the southern part of the city. The U.N. calling for a humanitarian truce to allow for the evacuation of wounded citizens. We'll get you up to speed

on a number of other stories here and around the region.

Coming up, no matter what happens in these Israeli elections. Whatever the results, one thing is clear, there's been a slew of election ads that are

hard to forget. We connect you with the stranger side of this election campaign after this.



LIEBERMANN: Israeli politics is a numbers game. The big number is 120, the total seats in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. If you want to be

prime minister, you have to control or have the allegiance of half of those seats. So, 61 seats is the minimum to be Israel's leader. But no single

part is going to win that many seats, not even close.

In Israel, there are more than 40 political parties running for the Knesset. Not all of them will make it in. They need to get 3.25 percent

of the vote. Most parties will fall far short of that mark, even so, Israel's next parliament is still likely to have between 10 and 14

different political parties.

The biggest party will probably get about 30 seats. Clearly, that's not enough to claim victory. So, the thing to look for is the party best

positioned to build that 61-seat coalition. This is where political wheeling and dealing is crucial, since it may require a group of five or

six parties to get to that magic number of 61.

Each parties will have its own demands, for ministries, for policies, and for money. A prime minister has to balance all of that to form a

coalition. And that can take weeks to complete. Oren Liebermann, CNN.


[11:55:34] ANDERSON: Well, there's been no shortage of unforgettable campaign ads in these elections and that is tonight's "PARTING SHOTS" for


There was the Israeli prime minister making breakfast or attempting to, at least. Benjamin Netanyahu says, "This is what I know how to cook." And

then, slams his opponent saying, they're cooking up a left-wing government.

Many though just focus in its lack of skills in the kitchen. And Benny Gantz isn't in the clear either the former chief of staff touted his

military experience. Claiming that more than 1,300 quote terrorists were killed under his command during Operation Protective Edge. Trouble is that

figure including many civilians that were killed, including children.

I'm Becky Anderson. Thanks for coming along for the ride we're live out of Jerusalem. We will see you tomorrow.