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Interview with Palestinian Authority Caretaker Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh; Interview with The Seventh Eye Staff Writer Oren Persico; Interview with Independent Journalist Dalia Hatuqa; Interview with The New York Times Magazine Staff Writer Marcela Valdes. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 05, 2024 - 13:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It is on Hamas to make decisions about whether it is prepared to engage in that ceasefire.


AMANPOUR: The U.S. struggles to get a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas as the Palestinian Authority seeks a leadership reboot for the day

after. Caretaker Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh joins me for his first interview since resigning.

Plus, the U.N. goes public with allegations of sexual assault of Israeli hostages.

And desperation moves, foreign nations drop more aid into besieged Gaza as agencies warn of extreme child malnutrition. I speak to two journalists

about what's being reported in Arab and Israeli media.

Also, ahead --


MARCELA VALDES, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: I think the Nikki Haley voters are the biggest wild card of this election.


AMANPOUR: It's Super Tuesday, the most important day of the U.S. primary season. Reporter for "The New York Times Magazine," Marcela Valdes, talks

to Hari Sreenivasan about the ambivalent voter who might be sitting this one out.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

The prospect of any rapid ceasefire between Israel and Hamas seems to be dwindling. Israel is not attending talks in Cairo. Hamas says it can't meet

Israel's demand for a list of hostages, saying that it doesn't know the fate or location of many of them.

Here's U S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with the Qatari Prime Minister, a key mediator, in Washington earlier today.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: And here, we have an opportunity for an immediate ceasefire that can bring hostages home, that can

dramatically increase the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Palestinians who so desperate need it, and can also set the conditions for

an enduring resolution. And it is on Hamas to make decisions about whether it is prepared to engage in that ceasefire.


AMANPOUR: And Israel has said that if there isn't a deal reached by the start of Ramadan late this weekend, they will launch their offensive into

Rafah, where over a million Palestinians are sheltering, while the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is worsening every day.

The question of the day after also looms. The United States is pushing for a revitalization of the beleaguered Palestinian Authority. Mohammed

Shtayyeh is now caretaker prime minister after formally resigning last week, and he's joining me for his first interview since then.

Mohammed Shtayyeh, welcome to the program from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Can I first ask you to tell us why you took this step of

resigning, you and your government?

MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH, CARETAKER PRIME MINISTER, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: For a few reasons. One, this government has been there for five years. The

second, Palestinian factions were invited to Moscow, 15 of them were there. Our government has only five factions, and we wanted to have an advance

payment for the Palestinian factions to come together in a unified position so that all Palestinians will be part of a deal after and tomorrow.

The third important issue is that there are new emerging realities that has to do with Gaza, and this is a door opening for the Palestinians to come

together again so that a Palestinian Authority will be in charge of all Palestinian territories, Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank.

AMANPOUR: Can I -- you sort of explained it, but I want to maybe delve down a little bit more on some of the particulars. Because in your

resignation statement you said, the upcoming phase and its challenges necessitates new governmental and political arrangements, taking into

consideration the evolving situation in Gaza, national unity discussions, the urgent need for Palestinian consensus based on national unity, broad

participation, solidarity, and an extension of authority over all of Palestine.

So, what do these arrangements look like, and who will be the leader?


SHTAYYEH: Well, it all depends upon the outcome of the talks. There has been these talks in Moscow, as I have mentioned, and it has not yet been

concluded. There are certain prerequisites for Hamas and other political factions to be part of the Palestinian political arena, and these sorts of

prerequisites are still being under discussion. There will be a follow-up meeting after Moscow.

Our president today is in Turkey discussing with the Turkish president and others in order for us to really reach a consensus. And as you rightly

said, and you quoted me correctly in my resignation, because simply we wanted a government to be in charge of all Palestinian territories. The

problem is there are certain questions that has no answers yet. One is how long Israel is going to stay occupied in Gaza, and the other, what sort of

Hamas we will have in the day after.

By all means, the Palestinians, they need to be united. And that a situation in which the new emerging reality need to be looked at in order

for us to really face the challenges that are ahead of us. Remember one thing, the challenges are very serious. We will have a very serious

situation, 13,000 to 15,000 orphans, 281,000 housing units destroyed, 30,000 Palestinians have been killed. 70,000 have been injured, total

destruction of infrastructure.

And we need to come together in order for us to be able to face the situation that will be facing us the moment we take over Gaza, the moment

this has -- this will happen.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, that is what everybody is looking at. I want to just pick up on a couple of things you said. You said, you know, 30,000

people have been killed in Gaza. That comes from the Gaza Health Ministry. And it does seem to dovetail with the Israeli figures as well, because

Israel claims to have killed some 10,000 Hamas fighters, and the Palestinian Authority there -- or rather the health authorities, say that

70-odd percent of the killed are women and children. So, those are roughly the same kind of figures from both Israel and the Palestinian health


But what I want to ask you is this. To react to "The Wall Street Journal" report from last week, which says that the Hamas leader, who Israel blames

for October 7th, Yahya Sinwar, his goal is for, "Hamas to emerge from the rubble of Gaza after the war, declare a historic victory by outlasting

Israel's firepower, and claim the leadership of the Palestinian national cause."

Do you think that that's a viable possibility?

SHTAYYEH: Well, let's go back to your initial question, which is very important. The numbers that you have quoted, it shows that Israel is

committing serious genocide against our people. You know, what Israel has achieved until now is only a total destruction of Gaza. Israel did not

release the hostages. Israel did not do this and that, the goals that they have set for themselves.

One thing that Israel has achieved, total destruction of Gaza. According to satellite images that we have seen through the World Bank, European Union,

United Nations, 45 percent of Gaza has been destroyed. And as you rightly said, 30,000 Palestinians, 75 percent of them are women and children.

That's not what I am saying, that is what the United Nations is saying, that is what secretary of defense of the United States has said to the


So, the issue is not about that Israel has killed tens of thousands of Hamas activists. Those who are the victims are innocent people, the victims

are women and children, and those who have been put to starve. This is a real genocide that Israel is committing in Gaza.

So, for whatever the Hamas statement is going to say, what we have seen there is a total destruction, and still Israel is trying to force transfer

our people out of Rafah. 1.4 million people have been squeezed into a little tiny geography that is called Rafah. That is the real issue,

regardless of what the statements from this person or that. My main concern today is that there has to be an immediate cease fire. This killing should



SHTAYYEH: Gaza today is a killing field. Israel is acting in the mood of revenge. You cannot imagine the situation that people -- 150 days that

people have been starving. Today, United States and other countries have been dropping international aid and dropping aid into north of Gaza. How is

it possible that you drop it at the same time you are allowing Israel to drop bombs on Gaza? Aid and bombs don't walk hand in hand? So, that is what

the reality is. This is the ugly reality about Gaza.


This war has to stop. This aggression has to stop. And then people talk about statements who is going to be victor -- nobody is going to be

victorious in Gaza. Gaza is a real disaster. Nobody is going to claim that he's victorious. Gaza has lost its morals. Gaza is now standing as a

criminal in the front of International Criminal Court. Gaza is now standing accused of International Court of Justice that is committing genocide. So,

who is going to be winning in Gaza? Nobody.

The people of Gaza are the ones who are losing. Our cause is losing. And our people are being victims. And everybody is going to be destroyed out of

this issue of Gaza.

AMANPOUR: Let me just try to bring it back to -- clearly, the world is watching what you're just saying. And there's a lot of effort to stop this.

But everybody is also looking for what happens out of this disaster, out of this rubble.

And I just want to ask you, again, according to "The Wall Street Journal," people who have been meeting Hamas leadership in Doha, they basically

report a message that Yahya Sinwar sent to that meeting saying that Hamas fighters were ready for an expected Israeli assault on Rafah and that "high

civilian casualties would add to the worldwide pressure on Israel to stop the war."

This is an incredibly cynical and cruel view from people who claim the moral leadership of the Palestinian cause. You have said your cause is in

danger. So, I'm trying to figure out what happens. How do you think about the day after who will be the leadership? How does -- how do you discuss

that? Where are the red lines, if any?

SHTAYYEH: Well, the day after should not be only for Gaza. The day after should be for all the Palestinian territories. Today, there is an

opportunity with all this bloodshed that is there in Gaza. The Palestinian leadership is one, single one that is legitimate Palestinian leadership

represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization. This is the -- and now Hamas has declared that they are ready to be part of this and we

welcome that based upon the political platform of the Palestine Liberation Organization, one.

Second, the day after, as I said, maybe it's too early to think of the day after because we don't know how long Israel is going to stay there.

Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, he is intending to keep this war going as long as it is possible for him to keep securing his seat as a

prime minister.

The other important issue, there are some political initiative. There are four ideas that has to do with the day after. The Arabs are led by Saudi

Arabia as coming with a very good initiative, with very good points that does address the whole -- the totality of the Palestinian issue that has to

do with the creation and the manifestation of a two-state solution, and a Palestinian State on the border of 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital.

That's one.

The other is the British ideas that does call for a return to negotiations. This is something that is really nonsense, because we have been in

negotiations for 33 years. Now, we need to go to a situation in which the International Community does recognize the State of Palestine.

The third ideas that are there by the Europeans, the Spaniards and Josep Borrell and the European Union. And we welcome the European initiative

because it is important calling for an international conference. And the fourth has to do with some ideas that are not mature yet by the United

States. The United States is calling for doing something or trying to do something before the end of the year. That's something we don't know what

is it and how -- what does it look like.

What we want from the International Community is one thing. Today, I say, there is an opportunity that we put an end to these atrocities. There is an

opportunity that we put an end to the suffering of the Palestinians. There is an opportunity that we manifest a Palestinian State that is sovereign,

contiguous, viable on the borders of 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital. That is what we care for, and that is what the day after should look like.

If you ask me, are we ready? Yes, we are. Do we have a plan? Yes, we do. Are we ready to engage with the International Community? Yes, we are ready,

and we are engaging. We are engaging with Saudi Arabia. We are engaging with the United States. We are engaging with Europe. And we want this

opportunity not to be missed.

Today, we have 100,000 Palestinian casualties. As you rightly said, 30,000 of them have been killed and 70,000 have been injured. Remember one thing,

there is no medical treatment. There is no food. There is starvation. Israel is using international aid as a strategic weapon to serve its goals,

try to push people out of Gaza.


So -- and here, as again, it's important to focus on what is happening here in the West Bank. 780,000 Jewish settlers are illegally here planted by the

Israeli colonial regime. Settlers are armed. Settler are using terrorist acts against our people. 32 Palestinians have been killed at the hands of

the settlers. Settlers are building settlements every day. The intensification of colonization program has increased by 431 percent during

the term of Netanyahu.

So, while things are -- and the genocide that Israel is committing in Gaza, there is also another war here in the West Bank through the settlement. 711

checkpoints Israel has planted in the West Bank. The town of Kalki (ph) is 60,000 people, is closed with one gate, with one soldier closing the whole

gate. So, people are suffering.

The day after should be about one thing, end occupation, establish an independent sovereign viable State of Palestine that live side by side with

the State of Israel. That is what we want. And that is the only solution that is viable.


SHTAYYEH: We cannot afford to go back to negotiations as certain capitals have been proposing.

AMANPOUR: OK. And I think that you'll -- you know that there's a lot of support for -- in the International Community for the end of the war and

also for a proper day after solution. And the two-state solution appears to have the most traction from your friends and others in the International


But what I want to ask you is this, also, the Palestinian Authority has not exactly been the great deliverer of great governance and great success to

the Palestinian people. You say it is the only legitimate -- you know, the leadership of the Palestinians. There needs to be a consensus. But there is

so much -- you know, the whole numbers of Mahmoud Abbas, the numbers corruption, all of those things, you know, how are you going to revitalize

that? What is your plan to actually make your organization, your leadership, a functioning, governing organization?

SHTAYYEH: Yes. Look, Christiane, you have been interviewing me for the last five, six years. You always bring the same question.

AMANPOUR: Because it's --

SHTAYYEH: Let me answer you --

AMANPOUR: -- an honest question. There's been no elections.

SHTAYYEH: President Biden -- excuse me. Yes, you are right, no election. I fully agree with you. I fully agree with you. It's not because we don't

want the elections. It's because Israel --


SHTAYYEH: -- not to allow our --

AMANPOUR: Literally, we've been around this block. I want to know how you're going to revive what President Biden does, the revitalization?

SHTAYYEH: I'm telling you. I'm telling you.

AMANPOUR: You just tell your people how you will revitalize.

SHTAYYEH: I am answering you.


SHTAYYEH: It's very simple. Revitalization of the Palestinian Authority means one thing, allow us to function. The Palestinian Authority has been

under serious war and serious siege. The Palestine Authority faces, as I told you, 700 checkpoints in the West Bank.


SHTAYYEH: How can you function with that? The settler terrorism. Palestinian Authority has been under financial siege. Israel is deducting

60 percent of our taxes. We have not been able to pay salaries for the last four months. How you can function without money? How can you function

without security?

The Israeli army is encouraging (ph) into our villages, into our towns, and to our refugee camps every single night. 6,000 Palestinians have been

arrested since October 7. That means the Israeli Army has entered at midnight 6,000 houses. People in the United States should know that the

Palestinians are under occupation and this occupation should end.

The issue is not about revitalization of the authority or not. The issue is about occupation that should end and leave the Palestinian people to run

their own affairs with themselves and allow us to have our own elections.

Remember one thing again, you repeated this question every now and then. And let me answer you for once and for all. We are democratic people. We

want elections and we want Israel not to veto our elections, because Israel wanted us to have elections in one part of Palestine without Jerusalem, and

we said, no way we are going to surrender Jerusalem as the future capital of the State of Israel.

So, the International Community, United States, Europe, those who believe in the democratization of societies, including that of Palestine, should

exert every pressure on Israel not to veto our right to election.

AMANPOUR: One last question.

SHTAYYEH: That is the revitalization of authority. That's what it means.

AMANPOUR: The last time you had elections, Hamas won in Gaza. And this is now what we're seeing. So, my question to you is, when you next have

elections will Hamas win again?

SHTAYYEH: Well, I mean, do you want me to tell you the result of the elections in advance?

AMANPOUR: Well, I want you to tell me what people are thinking.

SHTAYYEH: And then whoever -- well, I will tell you. The people are thinking the following. People, they want an end of occupation. And people,

they want elections to take place. And now, I am telling you that there is a situation in which people are grateful to what have been that Palestine

cause has been taken from the fridge to the oven.


Today, there is an opportunity. My main --


SHTAYYEH: -- through cities and end of occupation. And that is what we want. And the elections is essential and important part. Whoever wins the

election, we welcome that. We are a democratic structure, Palestinian --

AMANPOUR: We get it.

SHTAYYEH: -- since 1969. So, we are -- we believe in it and we want it.

AMANPOUR: Mohammad Shtayyeh, Prime Minister -- Caretaker Prime Minister, thank you very much for joining us.

And as we know, the scale of the human suffering both on October 7th and as we've been discussing in the month since in Gaza is staggering. After 1,200

Israelis were killed and 240 were kidnapped, over 30,000 people killed in Gaza, a large proportion of them, women and children. We know all this and

we've just been discussing it. We've also talked about the aid agencies, which are warning of extreme child malnutrition. As you can see here in

these pictures, the reality is devastating. While UNICEF reports that over 1,000 children have had one or both legs amputated.

Meantime, inside Israel, the wounds of October 7th have not healed. And over 100 hostages are still held inside Gaza. And this week, after a visit

to Israel and the West Bank, a U.N. team reported "convincing information that hostages have been sexually assaulted." They also found reasonable

grounds to believe that sexual violence was committed during the Hamas attack. And they heard "concerns raised over cruel, inhuman, and degrading

treatment of Palestinians in detention, including sexual violence."

So, what does each side know of the other's deep wounds and ongoing trauma. How does coverage differ in Arab and Israeli media? Oren Persico is an

Israeli journalist for the investigative magazine, "The Seventh Eye," and Dalia Hatuqa is an independent Palestinian journalist. They are both

joining me now, and we're very grateful to have you on the program.

I'm not sure whether you were able to listen to Prime Minister -- Caretaker Prime Minister Shtayyeh from Ramallah. But let me ask you, Oren, first,

when you hear that and when you see what's going on and the pictures we have just been airing as we introduced you, how much of that perspective is

the Israeli public seeing or hearing?

OREN PERSICO, STAFF WRITER, THE SEVENTH EYE: Well, very little. Unfortunately, I think your viewers, even if they are thousands of miles

away, see more of those pictures than people here in Tel Aviv. which is a couple of hours drive from Gaza.

It's not just the perspective, it's just data, it's information. It's natural for a country to show its perspective of an ongoing war, but the

Israeli public almost doesn't have any numbers presented to them, not to mention human stories and emotional stories about what's going on in Gaza.

AMANPOUR: And why do you think that is, Oren?

PERSICO: Well, it's not an official censorship, it's sort of a self- censorship. I think most of the Israeli public doesn't want to know and most of the Israeli mainstream media outlets, not all of them, but most of

them, don't want to upset the public and also feel the same way.

I think the feeling is that if we know what's going on, the terrible human cost of the people in Gaza, if we know about that, it would maybe diminish

or hurt the war effort. If we feel mercy for the other side, we might not be as united as we should be during the time of war, I think that's the


AMANPOUR: Dalia Hatuga, can I turn to you, also an independent journalist? What is your media showing? But basically, how are you projecting what's

happening in Gaza right now?

DALIA HATUQA, INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST: Well, I think that Palestinians have been covering the war very intensively. I think they have been following

not only Palestinian journalists who are on the ground who have become sort of everyone's eyes and ears to what's going on in Gaza, because of the fact

that the international media has been forbidden by Israeli authorities from accessing Gaza. And Gaza's journalists, you know, continue to bear the

burden of reporting on what's happening there until the point that they no longer can.


I think also in terms of Israeli media, Palestinians follow Israeli media very diligently. We have experts in Hebrew-speaking media courtesy of

having spent time in Israeli jails. We're talking about an estimated 1 million Palestinians who were arrested since Israel occupied East

Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank in '67. But we also have people who are deeply immersed in Israeli politics.

Palestinians follow Israeli TV shows. So, there is this sort of unrequited love, I would say. Israelis could care less about what's going on with

Palestinians. I don't think they're as affected. They don't follow Palestinian media like Palestinians consume Israeli media. Even when there

are investigations to push Israelis to think, like, for example, the peace written in the e-magazine, "972," about Israeli airstrikes on non-military

targets and the use of artificial intelligence to do so, it's the people on the outside that are following and not necessarily ordinary Israelis.

AMANPOUR: So, before I turn back to Oren, I want to ask you this, because you were in the -- you know, in the West Bank on October 7th, and I wonder

what you saw on your television and in your media. I know we're going back now to the beginning of this on October 7th.

What did you see on your television? What was the reaction within Gaza? Because the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research recently

published over 90 percent of Palestinians poll believe "that Hamas did not commit the atrocities seen in the videos on October 7th." So, what is your

side seeing of the atrocities committed on Israelis that day?

HATUQA: I think that Palestinians are seeing or have seen or did see what was going on on October 7th. That's why, for a lot of us, when we woke up

that day, we knew what was coming. We knew that a war would be coming. We didn't know the extent of it. We didn't know that it would lead to the

death of -- or the killing of 30,000 Palestinians and some of the other statistics that you mentioned earlier.

The thing that we need to understand is that Palestinians are not a monolith. Some have praised what's happening -- what happened, some have

condemned it, some were somewhere in between. It's hard to paint every Palestinian with broad brush strokes. But if you look at how the media

portrayed it, almost all have said to varying degrees that October 7th was a result of decades of siege on the Gaza Strip, the home demolitions, the

confiscation of land in occupied East Jerusalem, the rising death toll in the West Bank, and rampant Israeli settler violence.

Some media outlets, especially the ones affiliated with Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank, took a more neutral tone, expressing the need for

achieving peace and social justice to everyone living in the area from the river to the sea.

So, I think we need to make -- we need to distinguish basically between Palestinians living in Gaza under siege and war is very different than for

those -- excuse me, for those of us who live in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel proper.

AMANPOUR: Oren, what do you make, as a journalist and as an Israeli, and what does the public see and what is it being told about, let's just say,

right now what's happening, the fact that Israel is holding up aid convoys, which is now forced, I mean it's just so bizarre, your greatest ally to now

airdrop? This is like a last ditch, last resort measure to try to airdrop humanitarian aid to suffering civilians under siege by your country. What -

- and bombardment. What does -- what is the -- you know, how is that being reported inside Israel?

PERSICO: Well, it is reported, but you know, there are demonstrators who are trying to prevent the humanitarian aid trucks to enter Gaza, and that's

not reported as something negative, just as a news story. There is no sense of emergency in the Israeli media that you should let the humanitarian aid

into Gaza because the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is not much of a story here.


Or when the number of deaths people killed in Gaza reached 30,000, you didn't even see the number. I mean, maybe it was mentioned in the bottom of

a newspaper item or at the end of a news program, but it wasn't a landmark. And when the humanitarian convoy was, you know, almost the --


PERSICO: 100 people died when they tried to get to the food, it started as the IDF says it was the truck drivers who ran over them or whatever. But a

few hours later, there was a terror attack in the West Bank. And immediately, that made all the headlines for the entire news cycle. Two

people were killed, including the attacker. And that's a horrible thing. It's a horrible story.

But what happens is that becomes the main story, the main discussion point. And the next day, nobody even remembers what happened with the convoy. It's

somewhere in the back of the news cycle. And then people in Israel don't understand why the U.S. might be changing its tone of voice towards us, the

entire world might be angry about what's going on in Gaza. There's this gap of basic knowledge about what's going on there. And we see -- Israeli

public sees itself in the television, in radio, in the news all the time as the victim. It barely sees the other side as a victim, and that's how it

feels about itself.

AMANPOUR: And you've spoken about it and others have spoken about sort of the dome of disconnection within your country that most people still are

behaving and acting and feeling as if it's October 7th or the day after, the trauma is still absolutely, you know, boiling hot.

In that kind of environment, when you hear, you know, let's say the U.S. or others talking about the day after and, you know, what should happen, Oren,

is there any space given on Israeli media? Because certainly, your government hasn't really put out a day after. I mean, it's just said,

essentially, endless occupation, and there seems to be no plan. And we've had Ehud Barak on who said the same thing, no strategic plan for how to

resolve the bottom line. How is that being received?

PERSICO: Well, there is criticism of the Netanyahu government, like there was criticism before, but there's some sort of separation between the

genuine criticism of the fact that there is no plan for the day after and no criticism about what implications of the IDF's bombing in Gaza has on

the citizens there, the population there.

So, the political commentators might very well be very critical of Netanyahu and his government. But somehow, it doesn't turn into a real

questioning of the necessity of the way that the war is going on.

AMANPOUR: Dalia, I want to get back to -- I don't know whether you heard any part of what Caretaker Prime Minister Shtayyeh was saying about the

need to have a consensus Palestinian, you know, entity for the day after. And I wonder whether you think that Hamas has any role in this.

It seems to be like a sacred cow. Nobody on the Palestinian side can call out this terrible violence that they committed. The fact that they are

still saying, as Yahya Sinwar apparently said, listen, we're just going to keep going and the civilian casualties are going to make the world stop

this war. And it's very, very cynical.

In addition, the Israelis who were killed are by and large, not the military, but the civilians who were of a disposition to be more pro-

Palestinian rights and to have helped in many ways. You know, how do you feel Palestinians should look at the continued potential involvement of

Hamas in their daily politics the day after?

HATUQA: I just want to make a note really quickly that I think it's important to go back to the issue of this not being just about October 7th.

The dehumanization of Gaza civilians has its roots not just in current trauma, but in a long disengagement from covering Palestinian lives.


There is a willful ignorance and lack of willingness to hear Palestinian voices for many years, certainly since the Second Intifada, if not dating

back to 1948.

The issue of Hamas, ultimately, I think Palestinians -- I don't think Hamas is the sacred cow. At the end of the day, people are aware of Hamas'

strength and its violence and its, you know, positives and negatives, whatever, what have you, like every entity. Pretty much like how Israel is,

you know, also carrying out, you know, these atrocities.

But for Palestinians, I think the real issue is whether they're able to participate in elections. I think this was something that they wanted very

badly. And they were really excited, especially younger Palestinians, to participate in such an event. And at the end of the day, I don't believe

that Hamas is there and above any kind of criticism. I hear people talking about it all the time.

I think, ultimately, what they want is very simple, they just want the occupation to end. They want the possibility of a two-state solution or a

one-state solution, if that would ever happen right now. But ultimately, I don't think people are -- people's main concern is Hamas. I think people's

main concern right now is the 30,000 lives and the famine and everything horrible that's going on in Gaza right now.

AMANPOUR: Dalia Hatuqa, Oran Persico, thank you both so much for joining us and giving us this valuable inside look. Thank you.

Turning to the United States now, where Super Tuesday voting is predicted to deliver the clearest sign of a Trump-Biden rematch. With all eyes now

set on November, there is one powerful voting bloc that both parties will be targeting.

New York Times Magazine reporter Marcela Valdes, joins Harry Srinivasan to discuss the "ambivalent voter and their role in this election."


HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Marcela Valdes, thanks so much for joining us.

You wrote a piece recently that was interesting because it wasn't the undecided voter who's on the fence on whether or not to vote for President

Biden or Former President Trump, but it was kind of the -- well, the unmotivated voter, whether or not they would go to the polls. What made you

go after this story?

MARCELA VALDES, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: Well, I think that traditionally campaigns have gone after the swing voters, right? The

voters who go between parties or between candidates. But as the United States gets more and more polarized, the number of swing voters diminishes.

People just don't want to switch teams.

And so, what becomes much more important, winning elections, is trying to capture the vote of what I call ambivalent voters. And these are the people

who have mixed feelings about voting. The big question for them isn't so much, which candidate do they support, but why should they bother voting at

all? And there are millions of them.

So, on average, since 1920, 42 percent of the American electorate has decided not to vote. And even in 2020, when we had a historic turnout rate,

we still had more than 100 million Americans who didn't cast ballots. So, there's a huge audience of potential voters that these campaigns can fight


SREENIVASAN: So, 100 million, who are these Americans? Who -- is it demographically one over the other, you know, by gender, or by race, by

geography? What do we know?

VALDES: I think the most important thing that I found out in my research reporting for this article is that the ambivalent voters just aren't that

different from other voters.

So, people have, in the past, made a big deal about smaller differences in, you know, income or in education. But the truth is that they're more like

the rest of us than they are unlike the rest of us. For example, a third of them have college degrees. About a third of them are wealthy. Most of them

are, you know, they're similar rates of marriage or church attendance or having jobs as the rest of us.

So, this notion that the people who don't vote or sort of politically ignorant or apathetic or socially isolated is just doesn't hold up under a

lot of scrutiny. And I think the most important thing that I found out is that these voters are actually paying much more attention to politics than

people previously thought.


So, only about a quarter of these ambivalent voters don't pay any attention to politics. The vast majority of them are paying some attention to

politics. Some of them are paying a lot of attention to politics. Some of them know more about the political scene than people who -- than your

average American voter. Others are kind of tuning in and out, but they are not neutral bystanders.

SREENIVASAN: So, why don't they vote then? I mean, especially if you're paying attention to something, why not kind of follow through and make an

appointment or get to the polling station or mail in your ballot, if that's an option, right? What makes them want to vote? What makes them not want to


VALDES: So, one thing that I think is important to recognize is just voting in the United States is just not that easy. Sometimes, you know,

people are less likely to vote if they have to stand in line for the polls for an hour to be able to cast their vote. Voting is not -- our election

days are not held on a Sunday. It's not a national holiday.

So, really, we're asking people to take time off their work, to make a serious investment to cast a ballot. And for a lot of ambivalent voters

that just doesn't feel worth it unless two things happen. And one of them is that there's a really big difference between the candidates. And the

other is that there's significantly anxiety-provoking or just stabilizing events happening on the national or international scene.

So, we're talking about when America enters a war or when there's a significant change in the economy, like a recession, or when the pandemic

happens. Then when the choices are really clear and the stakes of not voting feel really significant, then these ambivalent voters decide, OK,

it's worth it for me to go and invest the time and cast a ballot this year.

SREENIVASAN: OK. So, there's no shortage of very important topics coming up this fall. But what's that tipping point between the dynamic where

people might be unenthused about the candidates versus really fired up about a topic?

VALDES: I think that the tipping point is going to be very difficult to predict. But you're right that there is a lot of warring factors going on

right now. So, on the one hand, we do have this high candidate contrast. We do have a very anxiety-provoking national international scene right now.

But there's this other factor that affects ambivalent voters a lot, which is that when they don't like their choices, they don't act.

Basically, if they don't like what's being served for dinner, they're not going to come to the table. And right now, more than half of Americans are

expressing unfavorable poll ratings for both Biden and Trump. And so, that's something that could really end up affecting the vote.

And the other change that's happened since the last election when we had a historic turnout is that during that election, there were a lot of, sort

of, temporary measures taken for the pandemic that made voting a lot easier. There were drop boxes for ballots. There was extended early voting.

There was no excuse necessary to get a mail-in ballot. I even spoke to somebody in Texas who had drive-through voting, but these are mostly

temporary measures.

And since then, early voting has actually been curtailed in a lot of swing states, it might be harder to vote this year than it was before the

pandemic in 2016.

SREENIVASAN: So, we now have kind of an A/B test, right, of when and where states made it easier for you to vote and what the turnout impact was

versus kind of the status quo. I mean, what do we know that actually happens when we make it easier for people to vote?

VALDES: Well, we know, for example, that voting goes up in countries that have election day as a national holiday. That's a pretty significant

documented research that we have about that. And being able to -- anytime you lower the effort required to vote, you're more likely to capture these

ambivalent voters because it becomes easier to say, well, it's not that much of a hassle, I'll end up doing it.

There was a poll by 538 that found that the people who never or rarely vote were much more likely to have had to stand in line to vote for more than an

hour in the past. So, that obviously affects people's calculation about whether it's not, it's worth it to make the effort to cast a ballot.

SREENIVASAN: Is there a benefit to one party over another with mail-in ballots?

VALDES: So, some interesting misconception about the ambivalent vote is that many people seem to assume that greater turnout means benefits always

the Democrats. But there was a study from Pew that found that people who voted 2020 but didn't vote in either the midterms of 2018 or the

presidential election in 2016, these ambivalent voters were evenly divided between Biden and Trump.


So, I think it's a bit of a misconception to think that, oh, well, if you have increased turnout, that's always going to benefit the Democrats. No,

these voters, precisely because they don't vote that often, can be very unpredictable in their political opinions.

SREENIVASAN: So, in states like, for example, Michigan, we had results where both Donald Trump and Joe Biden lost a lot of potential voters that

could have supported them. In Joe Biden's case, there were, I think, more than 100,000 people who marked uncommitted, almost a protest vote. And, you

know, in Trump's case, a large number of people voted for Nikki Haley.

So, are these people who are signaling to their parties that they're not happy with these candidates, could they become the ambivalent voters that

you're talking about who choose not to go to the poll at all?

VALDES: Absolutely. And I think from -- in the context of this reporting of research that I've done, I think the Nikki Haley voters are the biggest

wild card of this election. I mean, you know, barring some transformative turn of events, she is not going to get the Republican nomination.

But she took -- you know, she's taken significant number of voters in South Carolina, in Michigan, in New Hampshire. And the question for me is, what

are these voters going to do after Trump wins the nomination? Are they actually going to go out and vote for him, or are they going to do what so

many ambivalent voters are going to do and express their dissatisfaction by choosing not to vote?

SREENIVASAN: You don't have to necessarily switch teams and vote out of protest for the other, in this case, guy, but just by not voting for your

team, you are assisting the other team.

VALDES: It's still a choice that sends a message, definitely. And, you know, not choosing to vote candidate -- for candidate A or B is as clear as

a choice as if you had chosen one of them and cast a ballot for them in a way. It's definitely saying, neither of you got me excited.

Now, there is one factor here that could be shifting things a lot, which is that there's some indications that have come out in the past couple of

years, that these ambivalent voters and independent voters may be driven not just by things like the economy and their personal feelings about

candidates. That a significant number of these voters may be actually strongly issue-driven.

And we saw that in the last midterms when Democrats did a lot better than expected. And the reason why was because the Supreme Court overturned Roe

v. Wade. And there were a lot of voters who were concerned about the future of their medical care for reproductive issues. So, abortion, miscarriages,

IVF, these sorts of things.

And so, we are already seeing this kind of shape the way the candidates do their messaging. So, ambivalent voters are not going to be responding very

strongly to positive messages about the candidates. You know, Joe is a great guy, don't love the Donald. Those messages aren't going to have a big

effect with them.

However, messages about you might be losing something that you care about, something that you feel strongly about is in danger, messages that provoke

fear and anxiety are more likely to get people to come out and vote despite their feelings about the individual candidates. And this might be one of

the reasons why we're not really seeing any of the campaigns sell messages of hope, you know, this year.

SREENIVASAN: How does race play into this? I mean, I know that races are not sort of monolithic blocks, if I talk about the Latino vote or the

African-American vote, but Democratic Party, for example, over time, has relied more on minority voters. And there are shifting demographics in this

country where the Latino population is growing faster than any of the other subcategories. But is there a kind of a Venn diagram or a cross-section of

ambivalence across different racial categories?

VALDES: I think the most significant group in this context would be the Latino voters. Because historically, they have had the lowest turnout rate

of any of the racial and ethnic demographics. And so -- but at the same time, as you point out, it's a growing electorate, very quickly growing.


So, in this year, there will be almost 4 million Latinos who are newly eligible to vote. So, even if 40 percent of them vote, so 60 percent of

them stay home, but only 40 percent of them cast ballots, that's still more than a million and a half new ballots.

So, this is one of the reasons why people talk so much about the Latino vote and fighting the Latino vote, especially because this is a demographic

that is very complicated politically. They poll very high for Democrats, but the Trump's support among Latinos has been growing steadily. And

because of the low turnout, what's really going to matter is which candidate can get their supporters to come out more.

Like surveys poll -- the kind of surveys of opinion aren't necessarily going to reflect what happens at the ballot box, because it really depends

on who's willing to stand in line to cast ballots. And I saw this in 2020, I was in Florida doing reporting a month before the election. And, you

know, Florida ended up going to Trump that year by about 3 percent. So, not a lot. But what I saw a month before election day was serious door knocking

campaigns by conservatives to turn out conservative Latinos.

The Biden campaign didn't do any door knocking, they were discouraging door knocking because of the pandemic. But with ambivalent voters, these kinds

of face-to-face nudges make a really big difference because they're not inclined to take themselves out to vote without some kind of extra


SREENIVASAN: And you also looked at Latino voters in Wisconsin in 2020. Is there something worth learning from that?

VALDES: Yes. I think that, you know, people tend to think of Latino vote affecting places like California or Florida or Arizona. But this

demographic has grown so much throughout the United States. So, they're actually affecting elections in places where you might not expect it.

So, there was a very interesting study that came out of UCLA that said that in Wisconsin, you know, Latino voters may have been the X factor. There

were -- you know, Biden won the state by about 20,000 votes, and there were more than 150,000 registered Latinos. And precincts that had more than 50

percent of their registered voters in that precinct were Latinos were more than four times as likely to go for Biden than for Trump.

So, you know, it's hard to say any one thing made a difference for 20,000 votes, but it's possible that Latinos delivered Wisconsin for Biden that


SREENIVASAN: When you look at this kind of margins, these tiny groups of people that might be motivated that could have swung the election, I also

wonder about the younger voters. And you looked at the 18-to-34-year-olds in 2016, and Hillary Clinton famously did not get the vote support from

younger people that she needed at that time. Has that changed?

Because one of the things that we see almost in election after election is, sure, you can pour a lot of money into trying to motivate young people, but

they just don't end up coming out when it is absolutely necessary. Is that a fallacy? Has that changed?

VALDES: Well, you know, one professor I spoke to at UC Irvine, who's a specialist in this, told me, the most predictable thing about this year's

election is that the youngest voters will vote the least. It's what's true every single time. But a little weakness in this area can still make big

differences, especially for the Democrats.

So, it's true that they turn out less, but for Biden in 2020, almost half of the people who voted -- who reported voting for him were under the age

of 50. He got 60 percent of the youth vote. Whereas Hillary Clinton before had only gotten 55 percent of the vote. But things aren't looking so good

for him this time around. In the recent polls from Gallup, the people who like Biden the least are the people under 34.

So, if he loses this vote, we could have an outcome that looks a lot more like 2016, when Trump won, of course.

SREENIVASAN: Marcela Valdes, staff writer at "The New York Times Magazine," thanks so much for joining us.

VALDES: Thank you for inviting me.


AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, we remember two crafty centenarians, the legendary Iris Apfel passed This up fell, passed away on Friday at 102. She

found fame in her 80s with her big glasses and her bold outfits.


And if Iris was a trendsetter, then Juli Lynne Charlot, who was 101, was a trailblazer. She designed the poodle skirt. Yes, there was one. It became a

staple in closets throughout the '80s. The future Queen Elizabeth sported one for her first hoedown in Canada.

And now, there is a chance to own a piece of fashion history, the shirt that made Colin Firth a star and a heartthrob is up for auction. From the

BBC's "Pride and Prejudice" TV series, Mr. Darcy's wet shirt is expected to fetch thousands of dollars. And I'm just glad it was a man in this wet t-

shirt concert -- contest.

That's it for now. Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.