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Interview with International Rescue Committee President and CEO David Miliband; Interview with Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Daniel Kurtzer; Interview with The New York Times National Politics Reporter and The New York Times "The Run-Up" Host Astead Herndon. Aired 1:00-2p ET
Aired November 08, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
Israel says its troops are at the heart of Gaza City, while calls for humanitarian ceasefire grow louder. David Miliband, head of the
International Rescue Committee and former British Foreign Secretary, tells me about trying to help civilians under siege.
Then, how much influence does President Biden really have, even over the closest allies? I ask former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer.
Plus, decisive wins for Democrats, despite those Biden polls. New York Times reporter, Astead Herndon, speaks with Hari Sreenivasan about last
night's election results.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
As Israel says its troops have entered Gaza City, the humanitarian crisis is stark. Bakeries in North Gaza are closed, according to the U.N.
Hospitals are nearly out of fuel, says the Palestine Red Crescent. Over 4,300 children have been killed, according to the Palestinian Health
Ministry in Ramallah.
So, Gaza is at a breaking point. The U.N. insists more aid be delivered into the besieged enclave, including fuel, which is currently banned by
Israel. The secretary-general today called for an unconditional release of all the hostages held by Hamas, but also pleaded for Palestinian civilians
to be seen as separate from Hamas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: This in nothing should reduce our total rejection for the horrible things that Hamas did the 7th
of October. But we need to distinguish. Hamas is one thing, the Palestinian people is another. If we don't make that distinction, I think it's humanity
itself that loses meaning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And he questioned Israel's military operation.
Meanwhile, in Tokyo, G7 foreign ministers are pushing for humanitarian pauses, though the United States says no ceasefire.
While the IDF gave remaining Gaza City residents five-hours to evacuate south today. But as Salma Abdelaziz reports, the destruction caused by
Israeli bombing means travel is slow and dangerous.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Taking only what they can carry, families are fleeing Gaza City.
They wave white flags made of anything they can find. And as the sounds of war echo around them, they signal yet again that they are innocents.
Now, we're supposed to be in the safe area, but you can hear the bombs behind us, he says. All of our houses are gone. Nothing is left.
The Israeli military has been calling for weeks on all those living in the northern part of the Strip to move southwards, most recently opening what
it called safe corridors for limited windows of time, pushing thousands here to Salahuddin Street, where evacuees describe a harrowing journey.
We saw along the road destruction, dead bodies everywhere, and the Israeli tanks would demand to search the youth, she says. We saw one young man
stripped naked. We witnessed unbearable scenes.
The only way to reach the route is by foot or by cart for those who can find room.
There was heavy shelling on our neighborhood and we were forced to flee. We have to use these donkey carts because there's no fuel, he says. They cut
everything off to force us out of our homes.
Israeli troops are now in the heart of Gaza City. As Israel's defense minister apparently declared the entire city, the whole of the enclave's
largest population center, a legitimate target.
YOAV GALLANT, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: Gaza is the biggest terrorist stronghold that mankind has ever built. This whole city is one big terror
base. Underground, they have kilometers of tunnels connecting to hospitals and schools.
ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): The U.N. calls this exodus forcible displacement and accuses Israel of the collective punishment of some 2 million people.
And these routes can be dangerous and deadly. This was Salahuddin Street just a few weeks ago. CNN geolocated and authenticated these videos showing
the aftermath of explosions that killed evacuees. You can see luggage among the bodies.
And many fear they will never be allowed to return home. Some here say this is reminiscent of the Nakba, the Arabic term for the expulsion of
Palestinians from their towns during the founding of Israel.
We walked a very long way. It felt like the Nakba of 2023, she says. We walked by dead people who were ripped to shreds. Children were very tired
because there was no water. People were dying and there were elderly who couldn't walk.
And for those who do make it, bombardment and siege await them in the south too. There is. no true escape.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Salma Abdelaziz reporting there. And the images look horrific.
Since Israel started bombing Gaza after the October 7th Hamas massacres that left 1,400 people dead more than 10,500 Gazans have been killed, three
quarters of them women, children, and the elderly, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah. The U.N. says 92 of its staff
members have been killed, and the Red Cross reports its convoys have come under fire. The International Rescue Committee says a five-hour evacuation
or humanitarian pause just isn't enough.
David Miliband, the former U.K. Foreign Secretary, is CEO of the IRC and he's joining me now. David Miliband, welcome back to the program. I don't
know whether you could see that report that Salma Abdelaziz put together, but the scenes and what we're hearing from the people on the ground are
Can I first ask you to comment on whether a four- or five-hour evacuation corridor, so to speak, you know, pause, is, is enough?
DAVID MILIBAND, PRESIDENT AND CEO, INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: Well, thanks for having me on, Christiane. I've come on with a singular purpose
today, and that is to say that it is desperately beyond time for the world community to get serious about what a humanitarian halt in the fighting is,
what a humanitarian ceasefire, what the Americans call a humanitarian pause, what that can mean in practice.
Because our view based on our team on the ground in Egypt who are trying to get aid in, but also our experience around the world, is that a
humanitarian halt, a humanitarian ceasefire, needs to be organized, it needs to be coordinated, it needs to be led, it needs to be monitored, it
needs to have sufficient duration, if it's really to relieve the humanitarian suffering and save lives.
And what I would say to you is that it's beyond urgent to get this humanitarian ceasefire so that our teams can do the work and the partners
that we have on the ground inside Gaza can do their work. Because many, many are dead already, but many, many more are going to lose their lives
And so, this is a matter of the utmost urgency. And I appeal through your - - to your viewers through this program that we get into the details about what a humanitarian ceasefire could do over a period of at least five-days,
which is the estimate that we base our expertise on, that our expertise has led us to believe is necessary if we're to fulfill the promise of saving
AMANPOUR: So, you say five-days, they've given five-hours and only periodic. This is what Prime Minister Netanyahu's, you know, chief adviser,
Ambassador Mark Regev, told me last night on this program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We've also had pauses to facilitate the departure of Gazans from the Northern Gaza Strip
to the Southern Gaza Strip. We created a safe corridor. There are also pauses to allow in humanitarian supplies. These are things that we've done
in the past. We're willing to see them in the future. We want to make sure that the humanitarian effort to the people of Gaza can continue, and of
course there will be pauses to facilitate that.
We've done all that, we're willing to do that in the future. But to cease the war against Hamas would be a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, there's obviously a conflicting imperative here. And certainly, the United States and Israel appear to be in conflict as well
about whatever it means. So, in your view what is the difference between a ceasefire, which they say, forget about it, we're not doing that, and a
five-day humanitarian pause or ceasefire?
MILIBAND: So, the words matter much less to us as a humanitarian agency than the substance of the action that takes place. Let me go through what's
necessary, what's essential to save lives today. There needs to be a flow of aid. At the moment, it's a trickle of aid. Four-hour -- four trucks an
hour being processed at various gates, the Rafah gate.
There needs to be a massive scale up of the aid flows. That's medicines, that's nonfood items, that is food, that is water, the basics of life, and
the fuel to get those goods around the Gaza Strip.
Second, you can't deliver aid without aid workers. You quoted the U.N. figure, over 90 U.N. aid workers killed. It's not safe at the moment. Only
four out of 70 partners on the ground are actually working with full services at the moment. So, we need to get aid workers in.
Thirdly, essential. We've got to be able to have safety for civilians who come to receive aid. When they bring their kids, when they bring their
wounded, they've got to be able to be safe in a health center. Over a hundred hospitals have been hit.
It's also, fourthly, vital that those who need treatment that can only be delivered outside the Gaza Strip are able to get out. And you mentioned in
your report, those who choose to leave need to be able to get back.
There's one other thing which is absolutely critical. That's that the hostage issue, which is also a humanitarian issue, is properly addressed.
So, we don't pick numbers or names out of thin air. Our plea is based on the evidence of what we know is necessary. And this is a major, major,
major humanitarian catastrophe. And it requires a massive operation if it is to be done.
If the fighting stops or is stopped, then a humanitarian ceasefire, even for a limited period, we say the five-days is the absolute minimum, it will
allow us to save lives, allow partners on the ground to save lives, and that's absolutely the humanitarian imperative in action.
AMANPOUR: So, you're telling us this, have you told this or are you in any negotiations with the Israeli government or WHO -- Egypt, rather they have
access, to the Rafah Crossing?
MILIBAND: We've been very open about this. We're not negotiating. We're not a party to negotiations. I can say that very clearly. But we've used
our humanitarian expertise. The fact that our aim, our sole aim, is the humanitarian mission of saving civilian lives. We've used that to inform
the public debate.
Now, the U.N. Security Council is having negotiations. They are talking. The G7 foreign ministers, you mentioned. The Israeli government have got
their own words and proposals out there. We are saying that our teams on the ground are saying that there is the -- we're on the verge of something
much, much worse because the threat of communicable diseases, the threat of cholera, the threat of measles and typhoid, this is there when the
secretary-general of the U.N. says that raw sewage will soon be flowing in the streets, that's what comes in its wake.
And we're saying that the imperative of relieving the suffering in Gaza now is absolutely core to the humanitarian mission. That's why I'm here
speaking to you, because it's about our job. It's about our purpose as a humanitarian agency that says that every single civilian life is of equal
AMANPOUR: So, it is your purpose, it is at the core. Can you give us, our viewers, any kind of modern-day example of how in the midst of a raging war
reluctant warriors don't want to cease fire? You've seen it, the Russians in Ukraine, you've seen it in many, many places, they say, well, you know,
basically it is what it is We've got to, in this case, annihilate Hamas. And these are our pauses as Netanyahu, the Prime Minister, said to ABC,
MILIBAND: Well, you're right that, we the humanitarian community, we are on the back foot around the world. I mean, there's 110 million refugees and
internally displaced people. There's 360 million people in humanitarian need. There's 50 plus conflicts going on around the world. We are on the
back foot. Absolutely.
And civilians and civilian protection is not being respected and not being delivered. And that's why the appeal that we are making is founded on our
knowledge. We're not taking a political position. We're speaking to what we know of the situation on the ground and we're desperately trying to inform
public debate as expert witnesses for what can happen.
Now, we know that we can get mobilized quickly, but I'm not going to make any false promises to you because that. Absolutely satisfies no one.
AMANPOUR: I know you're not making any political suggestions or comments, but you know that this word, ceasefire, has become a political football all
over the world, including in the G7, including in your country, Britain, including in your own party, the Labour Party.
Huge dilemma over should leaders actually use this word, call for this word. It's become a political hot potato while people are in fact dying,
and as one -- you know, as the U.N. -- UNRWA chief told me last time he was in, little children came up to him asking just for a sip of water and a
slice of bread. Yet, this word and the idea of it seems to be dominating.
MILIBAND: Well, no, Christiane, this is about people, not about words. And any of your viewers can go to the IRC website, they can see what -- a press
release on Sunday, what a humanitarian ceasefire means and why it is necessary. We are not entering the political debate. We're saying that the
word pause or ceasefire can deliver as long as it's defined in a very clear way.
We're saying a humanitarian ceasefire has to be at least five days, it has to cover the whole of Gaza, it has to be properly monitored, there has to
be the flow of aid workers, but also the flow of aid itself, of water, of food, of nonfood items. We're defining very carefully.
And we shouldn't be arguing about the word. We should be arguing about the substantive responsibility to deliver for those civilians who are on the
receiving end at the moment.
AMANPOUR: And in the meantime, doctors, as you know, in Gaza are running out of --
MILIBAND: Let me just say one other thing. Sorry, go on.
AMANPOUR: Go say the one thing, because I've got some interviews to put to you.
MILIBAND: Right. This crisis has plumbed new depths. New depths on October the 7th, with a reprehensible and horrific attack by Hamas in Israel. New
depths in the deplorable conditions that exist in Gaza today, deteriorating fast.
And as humanitarians, we are honor bound to say, there must be a way, in fact, there is a way, to at least staunch the dying. And that is what we
are trying to do today.
AMANPOUR: And maybe even get them food, water, fuel, and electricity because they are under a very draconian siege, as we discovered from these
interviews that we've been collecting from inside Gaza. Take a listen to these people. They had been sheltering, I believe, at one of the hospitals
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAMA, DISPLACED PERSON FROM GAZA WHO LOST HER DAUGHTER (through translator): Look at our situation. Is this a life that we are living? We
have no food, no electricity or water. We sleep in the corridors without any blankets. It is very cold. This is not a life.
FATHIYA SHEBIR, DISPLACED PERSON FROM GAZA WHO LOST HER CHILDREN (through translator): They displaced us from our homes. They killed us, our
children. No one is left. We lost the people we love the most. It's a genocide. I swear it's a genocide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: 60 percent of Gaza's hospitals are out of service according to the health minister, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health. What
about a siege? What about, you know, they say -- you know, the Israelis say we're not sending fuel because fuel is a dual use substance. And yet, the
hospitals can't operate without it.
MILIBAND: Well, I couldn't see the pictures, but I can hear in the voices the absolutely gut-wrenching situation that is facing civilians. I think it
was a child who was speaking to you. As I say, I couldn't see the picture.
Look, the flow of fuel to deliver aid, the flow of water, that needs to be ongoing. That's a fundamental human requirement. And what we're arguing is
that the humanitarian halt in the fighting, the humanitarian ceasefire, the humanitarian pause, it needs to be long enough to allow us to address the
immediate needs that exist, to get the wounded out, to address the hostage issue, which is, I'm sure, immensely complex.
You've got Ambassador Kurtzer later. He's a real expert on much of this. We've got to be able to address this humanitarian need that's been
expressed in those extraordinary words that you're that your child interviewee used.
AMANPOUR: And a mother there as well. Now, look, Afghanistan is suddenly, again, in the news for awful, awful reasons. You're dealing with this other
urgent issue. Pakistan has ordered all Afghan refugees and migrants without official I.D.s to leave the country. You know, again, a looming
humanitarian disaster. Not to mention abject cruelty. These people are being uprooted again. They're already refugees. They're being sent back
about 129,000 people have fled from one of the provinces, you know, along the border as of as of last Thursday.
MILIBAND: Well, Christiane, the -- I said earlier that we're on the back foot around the world. And here's a prime example. We've obviously got a
program in Pakistan, which has been -- which is doing excellent work. We've also got a very large team, 5,000 people and 2,000 women working in
Afghanistan. And we have a mobile health team at the border that is meeting some of the people who've come across.
In fact, the figure I have is that 200,000 people have arrived -- Afghans have arrived from Pakistan to Nangarhar province alone in Afghanistan. Now,
Pakistan has been immensely generous. It's one of the most -- the highest refugee hosting country populations in the world. Over 3 million Afghans
have been in Pakistan for a very long time. This issue about the undocumented Afghans.
I met some of them in Peshawar when I visited in April earlier this year. We're immensely concerned about the need to mobilize, especially health
treatment for these people. And of course, we're concerned that in the face of the global emergency that exists, there isn't going to be the bandwidth
to address this.
And so, these, crises pile up and they pile up above all on the aid workers of organizations like the IRC, but we're trying -- we are mobilizing in
response to that Afghan crisis.
AMANPOUR: There's just so many, many crises at the moment. David Miliband, thank you so much for being with us now.
Now, as we were talking about at the G7 meeting in Tokyo today, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken again said the Biden administration
opposes any Israeli reoccupation of Gaza. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLINKEN: Gaza cannot be continued to be run by Hamas. That simply invites a repetition of October 7th. And Gaza uses a place from which to launch
terrorist attacks. It's also clear that Israel it cannot occupy Gaza.
Now, the reality is that there may be a need for some transition period at the end of the conflict, but it is imperative that the Palestinian people
be central to governance in in Gaza and in the West Bank as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Indeed, on this program yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu's adviser, Mark Regev, said that occupation is not in their plans. But just
how much influence does Washington really have at this moment? Daniel Kurtzer served as U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and later to Israel from 2001 to
2005. Daniel Kurtzer, welcome to the program, Ambassador.
Can I first ask you to respond to what we were talking about in terms of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and IRC -- and increasingly loud voices,
including from the United States, calling for some kind of relief. IRC saying that it needs to be five days with careful deployment of resources
and the ability to actually get sustainable -- lifesaving resources in. Others saying, and certainly Israel, no, no, no, because it'll allow Hamas
to regroup. Can you figure out how to thread that needle?
DANIEL KURTZER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL AND FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EGYPT: Well, I think David Miliband put his finger on both sides of
this issue. Number one, it will require more than a few hours to put into place the kind of -- a volume of humanitarian assistance, whether it's food
and fuel and water and medical care, that's absolutely necessary.
But he also noted correctly that before you can put a humanitarian pause or humanitarian ceasefire into effect, there are a number of issues that need
to be addressed. Who are the parties to it? Is it Israel and Hamas? Who speaks for Hamas? What about Palestine Islamic jihad? Who monitors what
happens during this period? And what happens if one side or the other violates it?
So, it's not simple to simply say, well, let's have a humanitarian pause, when either side could violate it in a way which makes the resumption of
hostilities that much more challenging. So, I think the efforts now by Secretary Blinken, CIA Director Burns, who's out in the region, the Qataris
and others, are working towards resolving these very important issues so as to get to the more important question of bringing in the humanitarian
AMANPOUR: And on that big picture, particularly the issue that the United States is now talking more and more about, and that is to protect
civilians, to separate civilians from the fighters. There are reports that President Biden spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu about this issue and did
not get the answer that he wanted and was somewhat taken aback.
Do you feel that Biden and the administration who are strongly behind Israel's right to self-defense, obviously, have the -- have any influence
over what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does in this case?
KURTZER: Well, Christiane, I think what the president has tried to do for the last four weeks is to create the public space of support for Israel
that allows him to have very tough and direct conversations with the Israelis. And I think we're now seeing some of the results of those
conversations. They're not all positive. I think the president will continue at it as will with other U.S. Officials.
But the United States, first of all, does believe that it's important to degrade Hamas' capabilities. It's important to create an atmosphere after
this war ends that does not allow Hamas to reestablish itself and govern in Gaza. But the president, I think, I'm confident, has been telling the prime
minister that, you need to moderate on change the way you are doing what you're doing in Gaza.
The bombing may have been aimed at trying to find the tunnels and the underground headquarters, but the degree of civilian casualties suggests
that there have to be other ways of finding Hamas. And I think the Israeli ground operation is now focused on locating the tunnels, locating the
underground bunkers, and trying to uproot Hamas that way.
AMANPOUR: We just heard from Secretary Blinken in the sound bite that I played about the day after, so to speak, and this is another, you know, big
unknown. Benjamin Netanyahu surprised everybody when he gave his first actual interview to an American station where he talked about indefinite
security control of Gaza.
You just heard Blinken said, you know, neither Israel should occupy, nor should Hamas be in charge. Last night, I asked Ambassador Regev about what
did it look like, this indefinite security control. I just want to play what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REGEV: There will have to be an Israeli security presence, but that doesn't mean Israel is reoccupying Gaza, that doesn't mean that Israel is
there to govern the Gazans. On the contrary, we are interested in establishing new frameworks where the Gazans can rule themselves, where
there can be international support for the reconstruction of Gaza.
Hopefully, we can bring in countries, Arab countries as well, for a reconstruction of a demilitarized, post-Hamas Gaza.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, what does that mean and what are your thoughts on it? And as you know, and this is, I think important because Prime Minister Netanyahu
is in coalition with very seriously ideological religious nationalists who want nothing more than to go back to Gaza. And we've seen tweets and we've
seen, you know, pictures of soldiers on the beach in Gaza now waving the Israeli flag, and it is providing fodder for those who would like to
reoccupy. Where do you think this is going to go?
KURTZER: Christiane, as you know, I have called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to leave office. His leadership is discredited. His cabinet of
extremist politicians is proving itself, even during this fighting to be beyond the pale. And so, these statements about reoccupying Gaza or
creating what could be a long-term security presence, I think, have to be taken only at face value.
Secretary Blinken is 100 percent correct that any occupation or reoccupation or long-term presence of Israel is a guarantee of a long-term
conflict with untold consequences. The two orders of business that need to be thought about now for the day after mean, number one, that Israel has to
be out. Number two, that a very significant effort at reconstruction of Palestinian life, of buildings, of occupations, of resources within Gaza
need to be undertaken, but there needs to be also a horizon for a political outcome that assures that we are going to move towards a settlement of the
underlying dispute and not have a situation where we return to the status quo ante only to have another war or more terrorism a few years from now.
So, Secretary Blinken is exactly right. I hope Israeli leaders are listening to this. I'm not sure that Prime Minister Netanyahu is listening
to it, but his discredited leadership will probably end shortly after this war as a result of a commission of inquiry, and maybe we can find an
Israeli leadership that understands the need, first of all, to help the Palestinians reconstruct their lives in Gaza, but also to look forward with
the Palestinians towards a different future.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you to comment on what Former President Obama said recently in a podcast about everybody's responsibility for the current
status between Israel and the Palestinians. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: If you want to solve the problem, then you have to take in the whole truth. And you then have to admit
nobody's hands are clean, that all of us have complicit -- are complicit to some degree. I look at this and I think back, what could I have done during
my presidency to move this forward as hard as I tried. I've got the scars to prove it. But there's a part of me that's still saying, well, was there
something else I could have done?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Ambassador, can you answer that question? First of all, was there something else he or any of the other recent American presidents
could have done better?
KURTZER: Well, 100 percent, President Obama is exactly on point. We've tried -- we being the United States have tried over the past 30 plus years
to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to find a way to meet each other somewhere in the middle on questions related to territory and peace and
settlements and so forth, and we were not able to achieve that goal.
And I think what President Obama is saying is, did we all work hard enough? Were we tough enough? Were we able to put enough pressure on both sides and
to offer incentives for both sides that might have made a difference?
Now the reality is, and I would think President Obama doesn't mean that Israel is responsible for October 7th. That was a Hamas horrific operation.
But if you take the long view of Israeli Palestinian interaction, peace negotiations and conflict, the reality is that none of us is exempt from
criticism, and all of us bear responsibility.
The Israelis for maintaining a 56-year occupation, building settlements, onerous occupation practices. Palestinians for continuing violence and
terrorism, and not responding when peace process offers were put on the table by Israel. And the United States as what might be called the
essential third-party, of not doing its homework and not being tough enough to see this process of peacemaking through to its conclusion.
AMANPOUR: And, indeed, as you say, President Obama also urges us to, you know, hold "contradictory ideas, to wit, what Hamas did was horrific and
the occupation is unbearable and antisemitism is an ongoing threat, and not all Palestinians support Hamas."
So, you've pretty much -- I'm listing and expanding on what you just said. But there are, you know, previous American peace negotiators who are on the
record as saying what you've just said, that did we try hard enough? And I know you're on the record in the great Israeli documentary, "The Human
Factor." Were the United States too much Israel's lawyer? Was the United States willing to do the hard job of being a real friend, like President
George W. Bush and James Baker, the secretary of state, who were very serious about Israel's security and trying to resolve this conflict
peacefully and justly?
Nobody was since George W. Bush -- sorry. Yes. George -- sorry, George H. W. Bush, President George H. W. Bush. Would you agree?
KURTZER: 100 percent, both in that documentary and in a couple of books that I've done and articles since leaving government. I've tried to take a
hard look in the mirror at what the United States did, did not do, and should have done.
And you're exactly right, Christiane, after the George H. W. Bush administration, and the heroic efforts of the president and the secretary
of state at that time, our efforts fell short in subsequent challenges that we faced, both following the Oslo Accords, even in the Camp David Summit in
the year 2000. President George W. Bush convened a summit meeting in 2007, but the United States didn't really follow up, Secretary Kerry tried.
In other words, there's been activity, but there's never been the determined, strong, persistent American leadership and determination to see
this through that we saw back in the first Bush administration. And that's what I've been calling for for many years, very often in an echo chamber
where nobody's listening. But the question is, are we going to try to do it now?
Because if all we do is reconstruct Gaza, which is obviously a critical first step, if that's all we do, we're fading ourselves to repeat this war
in the future. We must take a hard look at what's called the peace process and get these two parties to understand that they're going to have to make
hard choices and stop doing the bad things they're doing and start reaching out to each other for peace.
AMANPOUR: You wrote an article in Haaretz in which you recalled what your Israeli interlocutors had said back during the Iraq war period, that they
warned about the blowback from that war and especially they derided the George W. Bush administration's notion that somehow democracy was going to
come flourishing in the Middle East through the bombing of Baghdad.
And I would like to play for you something from the archive. In fact, secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, from back in 2005, when the U.S.
insisted that these elections take place that brought Hamas to power. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, THEN-U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We would hope that the elections can go forward and that everyone will cooperate to make those
elections go forward, because elections are fundamental to the continued evolution and development of the Palestinian process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, she then said afterwards, we've got to go and do an after- action report. We had no idea what was -- you know, how popular at the time Hamas was. Can the United States be trusted to get it right in the future?
KURTZER: It's regrettable that Secretary Rice was getting that kind of analysis. I happen to have been in the region. I had already retired from
government when those elections took place. And all I was hearing before the Palestinian elections was that the Palestinian Liberation Organization
was going to lose, not just because of Hamas' popularity, they weren't all that popular, but because of PLO corruption and dissatisfaction and
mismanagement with their governance.
So, again, I don't know why we believed that it was a good idea to be pushing for something that was going to end up the way it ended up. I think
that what this calls for is a much deeper analysis of the situation on the ground. And not only analysis, but coming to grips with realities. You
know, this is a government in Israel right now with which we cannot work on the peace process.
And so, one of the key requirements after this war ends is to have the Israeli people make a decision about where they want to go, and it's going
to be hard to work with the Palestinian government on a peace process since they barely managed to govern the West Bank, and we're expecting them to
try to govern Gaza. So, there's a lot of work to be done.
And you know, whether it's unfortunate or not, the United States is still the only real outside party that with determination can try to make some of
these things work.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador Kurtzer, thank you for your expertise and your perspective, having been in the room.
Now, in the United States, Democrats defied pollsters last night, holding their ground in those statewide elections. In Virginia, the party gained
full control over the state legislature, while Democrat Gabe Amo made history as Rhode Island's first black congressman.
"The New York Times" national politics reporter Astead Herndon joins Hari Sreenivasan now to discuss what these results could mean for next year's
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Astead Herndon, thanks so much for joining us. I'm sure it was a late night
for you. What were the races that you were watching as the polls closed all over the country last night?
ASTEAD HERNDON, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES AND HOST, "THE RUN-UP," THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. I mean, the principal races was,
you know, the Kentucky governor's race. We had the kind of state legislature and state Senate that were both up in Virginia. Those were
called kind of at the end of the night for Democrats. We're watching Mississippi, but that ended up not going to a runoff and holding with the
But I think on the top line, you really just have been watching all of the kind of races that show the continued salience of abortion rights, both
from Kentucky to Ohio, to -- you know, and I think that continues to trim for Democrats, we've seen basically since the Dobbs decision has fallen.
And so, that's why I was looking at the night going into.
And I think if you look at Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, there's a clear message that that is still top of mind for voters across the country.
SREENIVASAN: So, let's break those apart a little bit. First, let's talk about Ohio. It was a change to the state constitution.
HERNDON: Yes. It was a change to the state constitution to try to abortion rights. And let's remember, this is the kind of kind of latest iteration of
a fight that's been playing out there for a while. Republicans tried to raise the standard on the state referendum too, because they were worried
about how many people would drive to the polls. They tried to change the date of the election, and you still saw Democrats have a resounding kind of
decisive victory there to go in and try and abortion rights in the state law. That's over the concerns of some Republican state officials who have
really campaigned hard against it.
I think the margin there, really to me, says that we need to start reframing how we think about this. This isn't just an issue for women in
suburbs as it's kind of generally talked about is that you've seen this kind of create a new type of coalition that when abortion rights are on the
ballot that this is a -- you know, a wide range of people will come together even in the red state.
And so, I think that -- you know, Ohio is a clear kind of message. And the reason why, you know, Democrats are trying to really consolidate around a
message of protecting freedoms and abortion rights for 2024 and why Republicans really haven't found an answer to it, because as they continue
to kind of stick their head in the sand and try to fear monger around democratic tactics, that's not working for voters. They see them as
extremists who are taking their rights away.
SREENIVASAN: Now, what happened in Virginia? I mean, it wasn't on the ballot per se, but it still played a factor, you think, in flipping the
HERNDON: I think it did because I think we should think about Governor Glenn Youngkin's role in these races.
Now, Glenn Youngkin was one in 2021, kind of on a message of a principal conservative, and he tried to use these elections as a kind of litmus test
of his conservative agenda because the fullness of the state legislature was up, both the state Senate and the State House. Democrats controlled one
house, but we're looking to seek both.
And Youngkin had basically said, if you give me two houses of a Republican legislature, I will give you a conservative agenda that includes kind of
finding a moderate or compromised position on abortion that will limit it to somewhat -- to something like 15 weeks. that was what he was kind of
going around the state saying and specifically pitching to national media as maybe an entry point for him to get into the Republican presidential
race, but that didn't come to fruition.
You saw Democrats really do well, and they took control of both houses of the state legislature, functionally, you know, kind of grinding Youngkin's
proposed agenda to a halt. And I think that that is seen as a real blow to his kind of, like, parents rights, abortion protections that he was trying
to put into place.
And I would say another kind of result that, you know, stuck out in Virginia is that Loudoun County School Board also went to liberals. That
was a place where there had been so many fights about kind of culture wars and LGBTQ rights in schools and what folks were teaching the so-called woke
messages that were coming from education. And this has not really motivated Republicans to the degree that they had hoped once again.
And so, I think, you know, for all the national narrative about Joe Biden's problems, we actually saw a Democratic Party, particularly in Virginia,
that was showing real signs of hell.
SREENIVASAN: So, while we have one governor in Virginia whose presidential prospects might have dimmed a little after last night, Andy Beshear, in
Kentucky, seemed to kind of improve his stature.
HERNDON: I mean, he improved his stature, not only nationally, but we -- when we think back to when he ran four years ago, he saw even bigger
margins this time around that really speaks to someone who used the power of incumbency to his advantage and has a real name brand of the state.
Now, remember the Beshear is a unique kind of Kentucky figure, has a long- standing family name and has a history of being a kind of approachable Democrat in a red state, but that should not, you know, overshadow what he
really did in this race. He embraced the idea of protecting abortion rights. He cast his opponent, Daniel Cameron, as kind of an extremist on
And you also saw him really -- you know, as a state that has experienced the recent mass shooting, you know, he was the face of the kind of
consolation and, you know, for citizens, and that seems to have really done him. We saw a lot of counties that voted for Donald Trump as recently as
2020 vote for Andy Beshear last night.
And so, that really says that there was some crossover appeal for this individual candidate, but I do think it's going to be somewhat of a model
if we look about how Democrats can run broadly come 2024, is if you try to make it not about the kind of national race, but localize specifically the
issues of abortion and protecting democracy, that's going to be the playbook.
I was talking to a state party chair a couple of weeks ago, and he told me that, you know, no matter who's at the top of the ticket, they think they
have to communicate the stakes of those issues to their voters, because what we have seen since 2020 is that Democrats will come out when that is
communicated. That's true in the midterms, that's true in these off-year elections, and they're hoping that's going to be true next year.
SREENIVASAN: There was a red state governor, Tate Reeves, who held on to his seat in Mississippi. He was challenged by a cousin of Elvis Presley?
HERNDON: Yes. Yes. There was a there was an interesting race in Mississippi partially because Tate Reeves, the incumbent governor, has been
experiencing a spate of scandal, which caused some to really think that the Democratic challenger, Brandon Presley, could do some real -- could make
some real inroads there.
But Mississippi is a famously tough state for Democrats to win. It is at the highest proportion of nonwhite voters in the country. It's a very black
state. So, you can actually get to have 45, 46 percentage points if a Democrat were to mobilize all those black voters like we kind of saw last
The difficulty of Mississippi is getting past that threshold to more than 50 percent. And it's a state that just implemented a runoff law. So,
actually, last night, we were looking to see if Reeves were going to be able to hold past 50 percent so we can avoid the runoff. And he did do so.
SREENIVASAN: What's the message right now that Republicans are taking if they're facing these losses? that are moved by, you know, voters who care a
lot about abortion or who care less about, you know, what it is and what is not woke and being taught in schools?
HERNDON: Yes. I think for Republicans. I mean, there has to be a real soul search about specifically their message on abortion rights. I mean, they
have been led by an evangelical wing of the party that is clearly out of touch with the majority of Americans.
And so, if the lesson for conservatives was that, you know, the end -- the Dobbs decision was going to bring this back to the states was going to be a
kind of democratic repositioning of this issue, they need to take the lessons of democracy and make clear that, you know, the majority of
Americans, if they are put in front of them, are going to act to protect abortion rights, what does that do for their message next year is the
principal question I think Republicans have to ask themselves.
The other kind of question here is just like the general Trump triangulation. They have not seen a kind of -- his kind of energy translate
to other candidates. And so, if there is an enthusiasm problem, if there is a split among the Republican base, then that means that, you know, they're
not -- they're less able to take advantage of any democratic shortcomings.
And so, you know, when I was at the Republican National Convention earlier this year, the first and foremost thing they said they need heading into
2024 is unity around the party. Now, in the primary, there has been basically a deference to Donald Trump. But I don't think that from top to
bottom, you have a united party around that figure. And because you still have so many people who are saying that he has too much baggage and others.
And so, if you're Republicans, there's not only a message problem when it comes to abortion, there is a unity problem when it comes to whether the
base of this party wants and what it's delivering in terms of candidates, because it is not delivering wins. These are winnable races for Republicans
last night and in 2022 and they are losing them, and that's a clear message from voters across the country.
SREENIVASAN: Last year when we spoke, you described the "stench" that Donald Trump has left on the Republican Party and the Republican brand. But
here we are now, four indictments, 90 plus criminal charges later, and he is still outperforming all the other Republican candidates and he doesn't
even have to be on the debate stage.
HERNDON: Yes, yes. It's stunning, really. And I think that this is a kind of difference in assumptions for a lot of people. You know, when I think
about post midterms, there was a lot of assumed political fallout that folks thought would happen from the indictments. Of course, voters would
find him unqualified for the office if that were to happen. Of course, folks would have to kind of recognize the legal system and say that that
makes him -- you know, disqualifies him for presidency, and that hasn't really happened.
On the Republican side, you've seen people really consolidate around him under the vision of him being persecuted. The latest CNN polling has him at
61 percent nationally among the -- in the Republican primary. That means that this whole year, you know, these other candidates haven't really made
a dent in his support and he has consolidated and grown that over the summer. So, I think that's one piece of it.
But I do think there is an impact to the indictments when we think broadly and look ahead to a general election. This is a country that does not want
a rematch of 2020, that thinks that Joe Biden is simply too old, and thinks that Donald Trump has simply too much baggage. And so, that is the big
impact of them being -- us being big -- being brought back to this point. It complicates the question of just who's going to win, because I think we
are going to see an electorate that is a near open revolt about its options come next year.
So, may that -- will that mean there's more interest in a third-party candidate? Will that mean more people stay home? Will that mean people skip
the top line and vote down ballot? Will that mean young people stay out? I mean, I don't know kind of where that kind of -- where that impact falls,
but I do think it completely upends the type of calculations we're seeing.
In a typical year, I think we would take these off-year elections as a sign for the next year. But with those two candidates at the top of the ballot,
I think it scrambles everything.
SREENIVASAN: Is there a significant enough conversation in the Democratic Party right now to say and to understand that if Donald Trump is not the
candidate, that perhaps lots of other Republicans stand a better chance at beating Joe Biden, regardless of what he's been able to do with the
economy, what he's able to manage in foreign policy, and so on?
HERNDON: I think that's a great question. I -- you know, I recently -- last week -- you know, for this week's episode of "The Run-Up," our
podcast, we went and talked to the Biden campaign in Wilmington, Delaware, to basically ask them this question you're asking me, and what they say is
they know that they have real work to do, that they're investing money early to win over black and brown communities, that they're treating them
as persuadable voters, not base voters, when they recognize they have to convince them to come out, rather than just assume they will come out.
But I guess that's still coming up against the fundamental flaw here, which is that, you know, a candidate that was seen as an emergency option is
asking for a renewal of his contract. And I think that for a lot of these people it's not really about, you know, whether Joe Biden was a good
president or not, it's about whether they want him to be the president going forward.
And so, I think Democrats might find themselves coming back around to trying to make that emergency moral argument that you have to come out
because the prospect of Donald Trump winning is so scary. And I think that will motivate some people, but I just wonder if that's harder to do a
second time around, particularly when the electorate's views of Donald Trump have become more nihilistic and they're -- and have just -- they have
seen him as kind of less of an emergency threat.
Maybe that changes come next year after these criminal trials and things like that. But as of now, the act of calling Donald Trump distasteful has
not worked. The electorate does not see him as uniquely more extreme than Joe Biden. And that's a problem for Joe Biden.
SREENIVASAN: There's another presidential debate that's happening tonight, and I'm wondering how much you think now foreign policy plays into how
these candidates are auditioning and the inverse what has happened to Joe Biden's support because of the October 7th attacks?
HERNDON: Yes. I mean, that's a great question and I think we have to separate it by parties. When we think about Republicans, the sheer fact is
that the -- you know, the changes in the increasing global conflict does not really up ended that race at all. There's pretty universal agreement
when you get to Republicans about the need to kind of unconditionally support Israel. You got kind of Donald Trump saying, you know, praising
Hezbollah smarts and kind of saying Trump -- ridiculous, like rhetorical kind of things. He said he's been previously accused of antisemitism, that
hasn't really hurt him in this specific issue.
Republicans are going to be in universal agreement tonight about the need to support Israel and blaming the conflict on Joe Biden's supposed weak
leadership. Where there is not agreement for them is on the question of increased aid to Ukraine, which much more of that interventionist to
noninterventionist split comes up when you talk about supporting them on that front.
Among Democrats, though, it's unquestionably true that the conflict in Israel and Gaza has changed kind of some folk's perception of Joe Biden.
I've been seeing reporting coming out of Michigan about the large Arab community there. I've seen reporting about American Jewish communities kind
of changing based about how they feel the Democratic Party is being deferential to pro-Palestinian protesters.
And then, I think we should also say the biggest group where we have seen this take root is young folks who have been increasingly calling -- leading
the calls for a ceasefire, pressuring the Democratic Party to embrace that type of language. And we have seen only some do that. And really the top of
the party, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, others really stayed clear from that. And I think that's going to be the increasing question for this is, does
the United States support for Israel put it further and further away from where young people are on this issue? And does that drive an increasing
distance between the president who needed those people to come out in 2020?
SREENIVASAN: You know, you got another season of your podcast up, and of course, there's what people in the press and sort of people who watch
politics think everyone cares about. And here you are in rural Washington State. So, what do the voters that you've been speaking with, what does
resonate with them?
HERNDON: Yes. It's a lot of the issues we've been talking about. One thing I really loved about what we did in our first episode of "The Run-Up,"
which will actually be every week through the election next year, is that we actually went back to people and they matched up a lot of our reporting.
We were in Washington State, a kind of random place to go because it's the last and longest standing bellwether county in America. This is the only
county that's actually gotten the presidential race correct every cycle since 1980. And so, we were doing a kind of gimmick. We stayed in the diner
and asked the folks who lived in this town, OK, so how's this going to go? You tell us.
And so, one of the things we kind of found from that exploration, is, you know, to your point, a real distaste for Trump, not only among kind of
obviously Democrats, but among those independents and Republicans. I talked to people who voted for him in 2016 who had soured and would not vote for
Republicans again. Talked to someone who wrote in Daffy Duck in 2020, but refuses to back Donald Trump in 2024 and he has kind of been upset with the
party for aiding and embedding his candidacies rise.
And so, even though we had that kind of group of Trump supporters, it seems like a community that is trending further away from where the Republican
Party is, like a lot of swing voters and independents are right now. And so, that was kind of overall kind of thing we took from it was that there
is a sense of anxiety and dread about next year's election that threatens to really up end this from the top down.
And if people feel kind of unsatisfied with these two options and candidates, it is really going to affect how they view their own sense of
power and the ability to make change in the political system. And so, that really came up and so on -- in sort of what we were doing in Washington. It
wasn't just who they thought was going to win, which, for the record, was Joe Biden, but also the kind of mood that people were feeling about next
year's election, and that's what really stuck with me is that if we get this type of rematch that nobody seems to want, what is the downstream
effects of that?
SREENIVASAN: host of "The Run-Up" podcast and "New York Times" national politics reporters, Astead Herndon, thanks so much for joining us.
HERNDON: Thank you. I really appreciate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that's it for now. Thank you for watching. Goodbye from London.