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Plane Crash: Russia Responds; Florida Teen Beaten in Israel Unrest; Imagine a World

Aired July 22, 2014 - 14:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Russia responds. My interview with the Kremlin's ambassador to the E.U. on the

fallout from the MH17 disaster.


VLADIMIR CHIZHOV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE E.U.: I agree it's a game-changer. I think it's a wakeup call and I agree with the U.S.

administration on that. It's a -- should serve as a wakeup call for everybody.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): And later in the program the cousin of the Palestinian teenager, abducted and killed in Jerusalem earlier this month,

tells me about his ordeal at the hands of Israeli police.


TARIQ KHDEIR, BEATEN BY ISRAELI POLICE: They kick me in the face. They kneed me in the face. They punched me in the face. They were beating

me like they had no -- they didn't -- they didn't know what they were doing.



AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

Tonight, the world is asking if not now, when? When to force President Putin to match his words with actions and do his part to end the

separatist rebellion in Eastern Ukraine?


AMANPOUR (voice-over): In the past 24 hours, the Russian leader has taken tentative steps to quell the mounting public outrage over the botched

recovery and investigation of the MH17 crash site, in Moscow today, remaining combative towards the West, while promising to use his sway with

the separatists.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Russia will do everything it can for a thorough, comprehensive and transparent

investigation. We are being called upon to influence the separatists in the southeast. Everything that is within our power -- I repeat -- we will

of course do.


AMANPOUR: And tonight ,we get the Russian response to this disaster. The country's ambassador to the E.U., Vladimir Chizhov, joins me. He's the

highest level official to be interviewed since the tragedy. And we speak at a critical moment for Russia as the world ramps up the pressure.

The E.U. agreed today to new sanctions and warned that more may be coming, while the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, said all options are on

the table.

MARK RUTTE, DUTCH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): As far as we are concerned, something fundamental has changed since last Thursday. And

as far as the Netherlands is concerned, all options are now on the table, economic, financial and political.


AMANPOUR: Now as the bodies of the victims are prepared to be transferred from this train to a flight back to Amsterdam for

identification and reunification with family, Dutch officials are now saying that only 200 bodies -- not the 282 as rebels claimed -- arrived in


And today it was announced the black boxes, which the rebels handed over to Malaysian investigators yesterday, are headed here to Britain for

expert analysis.

So I asked Ambassador Chizhov whether Russia and President Putin actually do see this as a turning point.


AMANPOUR: Ambassador Chizhov, welcome back to the program.


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you frankly what do you believe as the Russian ambassador to the E.U. that is President Putin's game plan right now?

How is he going to try or is he going to try to get out of this bind that Russia seems to be in?

CHIZHOV: First of all, I do not share your view of the situation that my country is in. I think we're pretty much OK on the international scene.

And our efforts aimed at promoting a political solution to the Ukraine crisis, if that's what you mean, had they been supported by the United

States and other Western countries, we would have succeeded much earlier.

AMANPOUR: You say you think you're pretty much OK in the international community. But as you know, there has been a huge amount of

criticism of Russia for its handling of this.

Let me just play for you what the Dutch foreign minister said about the chaos at the crash site over the last several days.


DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER: To my dying day, I will not understand that it took so much time for the rescue workers to be allowed to do their

difficult jobs and that human remains should be used in a political game -- if somebody here around the table talks about a political game, this is a

political game that has been played with human remains. And it is despicable.


AMANPOUR: This is criticism, not just of those separatists, but of you, of Russia, too.

CHIZHOV: Well, I don't think so. Let me say I fully share the sentiment of the Dutch foreign minister, who says that it's despicable to

try to capitalize on a tragic event like this for political gains.

I fully share that view. And I also believe it is despicable to try to do -- preempt the outcome of the investigation and start the blame game.

Those people who are doing that may actually feel very embarrassed when the investigation might produce a totally different result.

AMANPOUR: Well, what do you think happened then?

CHIZHOV: I don't know. I wasn't there. I haven't seen the evidence. Actually the so-called black boxes, as you know, are now in possession of

the Malaysia authorities, who will be cooperating with the Dutch and, of course, ICAO and the United Nations. So we'll certainly find out soon.

And surely before that happens even there might be some clues, for example, in the air traffic control tapes which have been seized by the

Ukrainian security service and held without any comment.

AMANPOUR: You say you don't know what happened. The Russian defense minister yesterday had a press appearance where he seemed to indicate or

blame or cast some kind of doubt or culpability on Ukraine, saying that a Ukrainian military flight was in that area around the time of the crash.

Is that what you really believe?

CHIZHOV: Well, the Russian defense minister did not blame actually anybody. But it produced hard evidence showing that some questions need to

be answered by the Ukrainian authorities, which they have failed to do so far, concentrating rather on producing fake evidence.

In the meantime, the United States government has said that it has mounting evidence pointing to what they -- to those whom they call rebels

or separatists, but have yet to produce any piece, any tangible piece of evidence.

So in the lack of any other evidence which would point to the contrary, I think the strongest evidence so far is the one produced by the

Russian minister of defense.

AMANPOUR: The E.U. has agreed on extra measures and wider sanctions today in their meeting in Brussels on Russia. And I would like to not only

get your reaction to that, but first I want you to listen to the Maltese prime minister, who said this to CNN about the whole idea of the West's and

the international community's response to Russia over the past several months.


JOSEPH MUSCAT, MALTESE PRIME MINISTER: I, for one, have always been an advocate of saying, look, guys, let's take it slow and let's see what's

really happening. Let's hear both sides; let's see what's it take after what happened. I think there's no option but to step up.


AMANPOUR: So, Ambassador Chizhov, you say you're OK on the international community. But that was a prime minister who was inclined to

give Russia the benefit of the doubt, like many others, until Thursday, when that plane was down.

They all say this is a game-changer. And now they are putting more sanctions on.

What is your reaction to that?

And won't that come at a cost to Russia?

CHIZHOV: Well, I agree it's a game-changer. I think it's a wakeup call and I agree with the U.S. administration on that. It's a way -- it

should serve as a wakeup call for everybody to stop instigating violence, stop supporting the Ukraine government in its military campaign against


The immediate thing to do now is to establish a permanent cease-fire and proceed to a political dialogue leading to a political solution of the

Ukrainian crisis.

Otherwise, this can continue with additional civilian deaths.

AMANPOUR: Propaganda aside, blame and counterblame aside, is this, do you believe, the time for President Putin to actually deliver on what he

said again today, and that is to use his influence to end this and call a cease-fire and as you perfectly well know, Ambassador, President Poroshenko

has delivered a peace plan, an offer of talks with President Putin and the separatists. And they have been categorically rejected.

CHIZHOV: Well, I think it's a time of decision for everybody, including those Western countries that have been supporting Ukraine.

Unfortunately, President Poroshenko putting forward his peace plan did not even prolong the temporary cease-fire --


AMANPOUR: No, no, Ambassador, he did. He did. I'm sorry, Ambassador. I'm sorry.

CHIZHOV: -- if we talk -- let me finish.

If we talk about influence, I think influence on the Kiev government side, from the West, should really increase. As far as Russia's influence

on the people in Eastern Ukraine, you can easily see that from public statements made by President Putin over the last few days.

AMANPOUR: Does President Putin believe the spin and the propaganda that is being peddled in Russia by, I'm very sorry to say, your state news

organizations and all the conspiracy theories that have been put out there?

Is it boxing him into a corner?

And how difficult will it be for him to actually take a different track now and try to play the peacemaker?

CHIZHOV: Well, you have said yourself we should not get involved in the blame game and you immediate blame the Russian media.

AMANPOUR: No, no, I can give you chapter and verse about the propaganda.

CHIZHOV: -- president.


CHIZHOV: Well, what we witness can be referred to certainly as an information war, which has its own rules and laws.

But seriously speaking, I can assure you that it is in the national interests of Russia to see this conflict as soon as possible. It has never

been Russia's intention to launch this conflict. It started not -- it was not started by Russia. And we never thought it would serve any interest to

prolong it or exacerbate it.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador Chizhov, thank you very much for joining us.

CHIZHOV: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: So that is the view from Moscow. We had the E.U. ambassador on our program just now to respond to all this that's been going

on and from the reckless rocket attack that brought down Flight MH17, we'll turn to another act of senseless violence, this one on the West Bank.

The target isn't old enough to own a driver's license, but he has a name and a face that still bears the bruises of the story that you won't

soon forget. That is when we come back.





AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

As urgent efforts are underway to end that other raging conflict, the one between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, with U.S. secretary of state in the

region to mediate, a number of major American airlines have now canceled their flights to Israel after a rocket landed close to Ben Gurion

International Airport.

But still the brutal fighting continues and the death toll rises. All of this started last month after a vicious and shocking cycle of violence

that placed a young Palestinian American squarely in the center of events that he could barely understand.

Tariq Abu Khdeir is a 15-year-old high school student from Florida. He was visiting family near Jerusalem on his summer vacation when three

Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered last month. The government blamed Hamas.

And in revenge, a group of Jewish extremists then kidnapped and brutally murdered a Palestinian teenager, Mohamed Abdulkadir, Tariq's 16-

year-old cousin.

In the ensuing unrest, Israeli police captured Tariq and severely beat him. And it was all captured on tape.

Badly wounded, the boy was taken into custody, bypassing the hospital, denied visit initially from his parents and detained for hours. After the

U.S. intervened, Tariq was released. He and his family now say they are just glad to be back home in Florida.

I talked to Tariq and his mother today, as both the physical and emotional scars start to heal.


AMANPOUR: Welcome, both of you, to the program, Suha and Tariq.

Suha, when you saw your son in the state that he was, in all the pictures we've seen of his face, practically unrecognizable, what went

through your mind?

SUHA KHDEIR, MOTHER OF TARIQ: I was horrified. I just thought how could something like this happen, you know, to my baby? We're on vacation

and, you know, I never expected something like this to happen.

AMANPOUR: Tariq, tell me what happened to you that day.

TARIQ KHDEIR: Well, that day, I was actually with Mohamed earlier that day. And we were together playing board games and we were having fun

until I left him. And then I came back, I walked by him and I asked if he -- he was sitting by himself and I asked if he needed anything from the

bakery. And he said sure.

And I went to the bakery and I bought him some things. And I came back and I found the cop car there.

It was -- and then the cops told me that there -- that you can't get closer to the scene. And Mohamed wasn't there.

AMANPOUR: So did you think the worst?

Did you know then that something terrible had happened to him?


AMANPOUR: What was your reaction when you found out that he'd been so brutally murdered?

TARIQ KHDEIR: Well, I was -- I couldn't believe it. Like it didn't go into my mind like that. It was -- it was very like -- it was

devastating. I couldn't believe it.

AMANPOUR: And Suha, here you are; you'd come from where you live in the United States to visit family in Jerusalem, brought your teenaged son

with you and suddenly you're caught up not just in the murder of your cousin, but in the protests that led to the brutal beating of your son.

SUHA KHDEIR: Yes. It was horrifying, especially the fact that when I went to see him in the jail cell, they wouldn't allow me to.

And when they finally agreed to take him to the hospital, too, they wouldn't let me see him in the hospital. And then they took him back to

jail again. He didn't get that time of comfort.

AMANPOUR: Are you telling me that this very severely wounded son of yours who's sitting next to you was not given any medical treatment for a

good -- at the beginning of this custody?

SUHA KHDEIR: That's exactly what I'm saying. He was taken straight to jail, even after being beaten unconscious. My husband had followed him

over there and he had begged for them to take him to the hospital.

And they claimed that they'd asked him, him being unconscious now when being beaten, and they said, well, he said he didn't need any medical


And he says that's not true. They never asked me anything.

AMANPOUR: Let me turn to you, Tariq, since it happened to you and your parents were not able to be with you.

First, tell me how did you end up being beaten, thrown to the ground, by Israeli police?

How on Earth did that happen?

TARIQ KHDEIR: Well, while I was watching everything happening, because I was -- I was so blown away from everything. I still couldn't

believe it. I thought I was dreaming, like I didn't realize that he was just gone.

AMANPOUR: Mohamed, you're talking about.

TARIQ KHDEIR: So while I was watching -- yes, yes, I'm talking about Mohamed. Yes. And I couldn't believe it, like I was there watching.

And then, from a corner, I saw some soldiers running. And they're running towards the crowd of people and I was just watching.

It was so terrifying.

And when I saw them running, they ran -- they split up and they ran towards everybody. They were trying -- they were trying to like get

everyone out.

So when they were running towards us, I didn't know where to go. Some people left from the outside and some people jumped the fence and I jumped

the fence and they ran behind me. And they grabbed me and slammed me to the floor.

And I was screaming, because it hurt and I was screaming for help. I didn't know what to do.

AMANPOUR: And you said that they kicked you in the face? I mean, your face looked like a terrible mess at the end of all of this.

TARIQ KHDEIR: the first thing they did, right when they grabbed me and slammed me to the floor, they zip-tied My hands together behind my back

so I couldn't make any sudden movements at that point.

And they started beating me and I could not -- I could not even breathe at that point because of them kicking me however many times. Like,

they kicked me in the face. They kneed me in the face. They punched me in the face.

They were beating me like they had no -- they didn't know what they were doing.

Why would they be beating me like that?

AMANPOUR: Tariq, can I ask you -- you're 16 years old, you've been through this savage beating. Your cousin was brutally murdered and hunted

down and terribly tortured.

Despite all of that, can I ask you for your reaction to what started all this?

And this was the murder, kidnap of three Israeli teenagers on the occupied West Bank.

What do you feel for them and for their families?

TARIQ KHDEIR: Like it's sad both ways, for -- it's just sad. Like, I can't -- it's sad for somebody to die like that, no matter who they are or

where they come from.

Me, over there, was just like a -- it was just like a taste of what they go through over there. What they go through, like the people that are

dying in Gaza, it's really sad to watch them have to be kicked out of their house and having to go through all that pain. Like, it's really sad.

Like, for me, it's just -- what happened to me was just a taste of what they go through. You have people dying all over there.


SUHA KHDEIR: No mother should go through having to bury her own son, no matter what race they are. There are people dying every day. The women

and children in Gaza that -- it's a massacre over there right now. I'm just hoping for peace.

AMANPOUR: Well, I appreciate you both being with me today. Suha, Tariq Khdeir, thank you very much indeed for joining me.


AMANPOUR: And just a note: one of the police officers caught on tape will face disciplinary measures and possible criminal charges according to

Israel police investigations department.

And while the Holy Land seethes with unholy bloodshed, in Iraq, one of the most ancient Christian communities on Earth is threatened with


For 2,000 years, Christians have worshipped in Mosul. But with the spread of sectarian violence ever since the U.S. invasion of 2003, their

numbers have dwindled from 60,000 to fewer than half. And now the exodus has become a flood with the draconian demands straight out of a

totalitarian hell. ISIS extremists are forcing Christians to convert, pay a tax or pay with their lives. Soon, the churches of Mosul will likely be

empty and the world will be emptier for it.

After a break, is an act of good faith between Christians and Muslims still possible? The answer might surprise you, when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, when children are made to suffer for the crimes of their elders, be it on a charred field in Ukraine or the

deadly streets of Gaza and the West Bank, imagine a world where ordinary people come together, despite demagogues and dogma that would drive them


Last weekend as the dwindling Christian population of Mosul, Iraq, fled for their lives, something extraordinary happened to the south in

Baghdad, as Christians attending Sunday service at St. George's Chaldean Church found themselves sharing their pews with unexpected guests, their

Muslim neighbors. They came to show their support and to show that they are nothing like ISIS.

It was a gesture of fellowship and brotherhood that echoed as far away as London, where on the same night, the Finchley Reform Synagogue hosted an

Iftar meal to break the fast of Ramadan for a local Muslim community, whose mosque had been torched by arsonists.

And in the Netherlands, in deep grief for the victims of Flight MH17, reporter Matina Stevis tweeted this picture of a Muslim woman bringing

flowers to a cathedral, a floral tribute to the souls that were lost in the crash.

Simple acts of good faith by people of all faiths, trying to bring some light into the world, even as their leaders stumble around in the


And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and

Facebook. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.