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Interview with Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris; Interview with Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council Mustafa Barghouti; Interview with Breaking the Silence Executive Director Avner Gvaryahu; Biden Holds News Conference with Kenyan President Ruto. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 23, 2024 - 13:00:00   ET



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


SIMON HARRIS, IRISH PRIME MINISTER: We believe you can't say you're in favor of a two-state solution and not recognize the very existence of two-



AMANPOUR: Diplomatic pressure ramping up against Israel. I speak to the Irish prime minister, Simon Harris, after the groundbreaking move by

Ireland, Spain, and Norway to say they will formally recognize Palestine as a state. And general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative,

Mustafa Barghouti, joins me from the West Bank.

Plus, "Occupation Has Corrupted the Humanity of Israel's Military." That's former IDF soldier Avner Gvaryahu, who tells me why he's breaking the


Also, ahead --


AARON TANG, AUTHOR, "SUPREME HUBRIS": It's remarkable that a justice in that position would have in front of his home, a visible symbol indicating

that he believes in fact that the election was stolen.


AMANPOUR: -- upside-down flags, partisans in the Supreme Court and reports of financial favors. Hari Sreenivasan unpacks what all this means with law

professor and author Aaron Tang. And how supreme hubris may be destroying the court.

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

Diplomatic isolation is mounting on the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This week began with the ICC seeking indictments for him and his

defense minister, along with top Hamas leaders. That was followed by three European nations, Ireland, Norway, and Spain, formally recognizing

Palestine as a state, and Israel recalling ambassadors from all three.

In addition, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has authorized Israelis to start re-entering the West Bank, paving the way for new Israeli settlements

there. And the far-right finance minister has cut off tax revenue funds to the Palestinian Authority.

Now, while Europe remains divided on Palestinian statehood, France says the timing is not right. And the United States, Israel's biggest ally, also

criticized the move and threatened sanctions on the International Criminal Court.

I've been speaking to the Irish prime minister, Simon Harris, on his nation's policy and the intractable Israel Palestinian catastrophe.


AMANPOUR: Taoiseach Simon Harris, welcome back to the program. Can I ask you, because there's clearly so much fallout from what you and Norway and

Spain have announced this week, and that is, you recognize Palestinian statehood. The question is, why now? What was the impetus for you doing it


SIMON HARRIS, IRISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, it was my government's preferred position to recognize a two-state solution as part of a peace process to

bring that about. But sadly, unfortunately, such a comprehensive peace settlement now seems, in many ways, further away than it has ever been.

We therefore believe that it is so important that we try to inject a degree of momentum to the fact that the only way to bring peace and stability to

the Middle East is a two-state solution and is a political peace process. We believe you can't say you're in favor of a two-state solution and not

recognize the very existence of two-states.

So, we've worked very intensively with likeminded countries, with Norway, with Spain, and indeed, with others who might expect to recognize Palestine

in the coming weeks. And our judgment was yesterday, and it is today, that now is the right time and that there is never a wrong time to do the right


We can very clearly differentiate between Hamas, which is a disgusting, despicable, illegal terrorist organization, and the people of Palestine,

the children of Palestine, the civilians, and the most horrific humanitarian catastrophe that's unfolding.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you to tell me what you make of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling in your ambassador in Israel, plus those of

Norway and of Spain? And it's -- I'm going to read you what they were told, your ambassadors.


First of all, they were reprimanded for the move that you've made. They basically call it a twisted decision of your governments, a reward for

Hamas. Hamas congratulates you on it. This is a statement. The decision will have additional serious consequences for our relations with your


And they actually also showed your ambassador, she happens to be a woman, but nonetheless, they showed her this really terrible pic -- video that the

families of certain female hostages have released to show how they were treated. It was body cam video. And it's very sickening.

Now, your ambassadors were directly shown that and it was accompanied by this reprimand. What is your reaction to that?

HARRIS: Well, the first thing to say is Ireland has an excellent ambassador in Israel and she is doing a wonderful job representing the

views of the Irish government and the Irish people and I thank her and I thank the team.

Of course, it's -- any foreign ministry can call in any ambassador. But what I will not tolerate is any country misrepresenting the position of the

Irish people. I am the leader of the Irish government. I speak on behalf of Ireland. And we have been clear and unequivocal that we condemn Hamas, that

we condemn the most horrific, barbaric massacre that Israel experienced on the 7th of October. We call for the unconditional and immediate release of

all hostages.

But it is entirely possible to say what I have just said, and also say the next bit, which sadly some refuse to say, that what is happening in

Palestine, what is happening in Gaza, is a humanitarian catastrophe. That children are being starved, are being deprived of food. And that there are

children who will go to sleep in Gaza tonight not sure if they will wake in the morning.

This situation is not sustainable. It needs to stop. And I have no intention of being in any way, shape, or form distracted from the immediate

need for a cessation of violence in the Middle East, the need for the release of the hostages, for humanitarian aid to flow unimpeded and

unhindered, and for the -- and the need for a peace settlement.

And I can say this to the people of Israel, we recognize the State of Israel. We recognize the State of Israel's right to live in peace and

security. That is their right. The people of Palestine also must have an equivalent right to peace and security.

And let me also say this to the people of Israel, the Irish people know what it's like to have their national identity hijacked by a terrorist

organization. The IRA was never the people of Ireland and Hamas is not the people of Palestine.

AMANPOUR: As you say, you do have experience, and many say that your actual experience, certainly the Northern Ireland experience, of actually

bringing peace with the Republic's help is a road map for these kinds of terrible conflicts.

But so, they obviously, the government in Israel is saying this is just a reward for terror. But I just want to ask you because even France, you

know, the -- a big European country has said the conditions are not right yet.

What actual effect do you think the E.U. countries, and you say you want more and you expect more to recognize, what effect do you think you can

actually practically have?

HARRIS: So, I do expect more to recognize. And it does obviously have an immediate effect in terms of the ability of Palestine to seek -- to have an

embassy here in Dublin and the ability, indeed, of our representation in Ramallah to be upgraded also. But it has more than that. I hope by taking

what I believe to be a principled leadership stance that it enables and empowers and encourages other countries to come forward as well, because I

know there are many countries that are giving consideration to this.

And of course, every country must make a judgment as to when is the right moment, but it is the considered view of Ireland and indeed of Spain and

indeed of Norway, three countries, which I think any fair analysis would say have a long and proud history in peace and peacemaking and in working

towards a two-state solution in the Middle East.

I hope that our recognition gives that sense of positive momentum. The State of Israel loses nothing by us recognizing the State of Palestine.

Instead, it is a positive step towards peace because what is happening now cannot continue, and it is time for the world to find the courage of their


We need to stand by international law, we need to stand by human rights, and that means children in Israel, children in Palestine having a right to

live safely side by side in peace and security. Anything else in terms of videos from foreign ministries and the likes is distracting from the very,

very serious issue, that the serious issue of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding.

And let me be absolutely clear again, what happened in Israel on the 7th of October was a despicable, disgusting terrorist act on the people of Israel.

We stand in solidarity with them in relation that we've been clear in our condemnation of Hamas. But we also know that the way to bring peace and

security and stability to the Middle East is a two-state solution. And to bring that about, you need to recognize the existence of two-states.


AMANPOUR: And, Taoiseach, as you says, that video, which is just heart rending, you know, for the families of the women, and in this case, they

were women soldiers, they released it yesterday to the public because they were trying to pressure their own government to bring back their family

members who are still being held in these appalling conditions inside Gaza.

I also want to ask you about the following. They're now, you know, more and more analysts saying that, you know, the center of gravity, particularly in

the European, you know, center, maybe moving away from the historic pro- Israel politics. And even the U.S. national security official, Jake Sullivan, expressed concern yesterday about the increasing isolation of

Israel. I just want to play this.


JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We certainly have seen a growing chorus of voices, including voices that had previously been in

support of Israel, drift in another direction. That is of concern to us, because we do not believe that that contributes to Israel's long-term

security or vitality.


AMANPOUR: So, I mean, they're angry about the recognition, but they nonetheless also see this isolation. Indeed, you know Senator Chuck Schumer

made an impassioned speech in Congress in March about the same thing, the danger of Israel being isolated. Would you say that Europe is recalibrating

its position, its relations?

HARRIS: Can I firstly just be very clear? My comments in relation to video is very much relate to videos issued by the Israeli foreign ministry

directed at Ireland, not in any way, shape, or form a video is released by families desperate to get their loved ones back into their arms, and my

heart goes out to the families of hostages, and I want to see those hostages released.

In relation to the situation regarding Israel, I don't wish to see a scenario where the State of Israel finds itself isolated in the world, but

Israel needs to recognize international law. It needs to recognize human rights. And indeed, it needs to listen to other countries around the world

in relation to the absolute need for a cessation of violence to take place.

I don't think we should be dividing countries into camps of pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian. Instead, we should be talking about being pro-

international law, pro-human rights, pro-peace, pro-political settlements to conflict. That is the space we need to be in.

And what I'm very certain of at a European level, and indeed saw this at the April meeting of European leaders, which I attended, is that there is

now a unanimity of views amongst European countries of the need for an immediate cessation of violence. And we reached that decision point at a

meeting, in the longstanding position of Ireland. But it is now also the unanimous position of the European Council.

The violence needs to end. We want to continue to have good diplomatic relations with Israel. I had a very -- a call I valued with the president

of Israel on Friday where we were able to exchange views and I put forward the views of my country forcefully and firmly. But I value the relationship

with Israel. I don't want to see a scenario where Israel finds itself isolated in the world.

But we do need to see the cessation of violence. That's what brings about the conditions to create peace and stability in the Middle East. And we

have to be so clear, we have to be absolutely so clear what is happening at the moment in Palestine is unconscionable and is almost unimaginable. And I

don't yet think the world comprehends the scale of devastation facing Palestinian civilians, and we cannot turn a blind eye.

And I will not allow a scenario where in years to come, people ask me, what did you do at that moment? And people ask Ireland, what did you do at that

moment? The answer cannot be that we stayed silent. We must stand up for human rights, stand up against breaches of international law, and call out

this humanitarian catastrophe. And really, the only way you resolve this conflict is through peaceful political dialogue.

AMANPOUR: As you know, Prime Minister Netanyahu has outright rejected a Palestinian State. But as you say, you know, you don't want future

generations to ask what you did or didn't do. The prosecutor of the ICC, Karim Khan, said that to me, in effect, that he felt that bringing the

demand, the request for arrest warrants on both Hamas leaders and Israeli leaders was done at this time in order to try to change the balance of

power that's happening on the ground, the terrible continued capture of the hostages, the terrible civilian casualties in Gaza, but of course, it's had

a furious reaction.

Now, I wonder what -- I would just like to hear your reaction to the ICC action, but also to the fact that not just Republicans in the U.S.

Congress, but also the Biden administration is considering sanctioning the ICC and perhaps even Karim Khan for this action, for this move.


HARRIS: Well, I have great respect for the work of the International Criminal Court and indeed for the work of the International Court

structures that are in place. I think they serve a very important purpose. And I as a politician, as a Taoiseach, as a prime minister, don't wish to

cut across the independence of that work.

I am conscious that the prosecutor has made a request of the ICC, and I understand that will be considered over several weeks, and then let's see

where that process brings us to. But I don't intend to provide a running political commentary out of respect to the independence of the ICC, which

is independence we very much value in Ireland.

AMANPOUR: Simon Harris, Irish Taoiseach, thank you so much indeed for joining me.

HARRIS: Thank you so much.


AMANPOUR: Let's now bring in Mustafa Barghouti. He's a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and he's general secretary of the

Palestinian National Initiative Party, which is based in the West Bank, and he's joining me from Ramallah.

Mustafa Barghouti, welcome back to our program. Let me start by asking you your reaction, which I know that you've congratulated and welcomed the

declaration of recognizing Palestine as a state. But do you think it will actually change things or do you think that it's welcome words for you?

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, MEMBER OF THE PALESTINIAN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL: No, actually, it will change things. And if it wasn't changing things, you

would not see this hysterical reaction from the side of the Israeli government.

It is important step, a bit late, but important. Because first of all, it defies the de facto Israeli annexation of the West Bank, where Israel,

through its settlement activities, is changing facts on the ground. This recognition, as well as the vote in the United Nations, is saying that all

Israeli changes, facts on the ground, will not change the fact that this is a Palestinian State under occupation, and that all Israeli measures are a

violation of international law and will not have a long-term effect.

Second, it's important because it is affecting other countries to also join in and recognize Palestine. And in my opinion, it's a very important step

in pushing towards a complete ceasefire in Gaza. It attracts the attention of the world to the reality of occupation that has become the longest

occupation in modern history and the system of apartheid that Palestinians have been subjected to.

It also draws a very important line between talking about two-state solution as a real goal or just making -- using it as an act of hypocrisy,

because, in my opinion, any country in the world, including the United States, that speaks about two-state solution without demanding the

immediate end of Israeli occupation and the removal of Israel illegal settlements in the occupied territories and that would not recognize

Palestine is simply practicing hypocrisy.

AMANPOUR: OK. Mustafa, let me ask you a question. You talked about the Israeli reaction. Well, first, let me ask you this. Hamas welcomed the

declaration of recognition. Doesn't that hurt your cause when Hamas chimes in, given that the Israelis and the Americans and everybody, you know, says

that it's a -- you know, it's a victory, it's a gold medal for terrorism?

BARGHOUTI: Of course it helps because it shows that Hamas also is ready to accept a Palestinian statehood, something that the Israelis claim is not

the case. It shows that all Palestinians can be unified in demanding to have a state of their own that is sovereign and that all Palestinians,

including Hamas, could be united in accepting a regulation or an agreement that would lead to real peace.

But with allowing Palestinians to have their rights of freedom, self- determination and practice their rights to be free from occupation, free from apartheid, free from all the causes that led to the continuation of

this situation for so many years.

AMANPOUR: Mustafa Barghouti --

BARGHOUTI: I think it's a positive thing that they accepted.

AMANPOUR: When you say they accepted and they accept a state, do you mean a state alongside a safe and secure Israeli State?

BARGHOUTI: Well, I think that's what two-state solution means. But at the end of the day, I think the Israeli -- the question here is if Israel is

really accepting the right of the Palestinians to be -- having a state.


So far, Palestinians have accepted that long time ago. More than that, the official leadership of the PLO have actually recognized the State of

Israel. Israel never accepted or recognized the Palestinian State. More than that, you see Mr. Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, and most

leaders of the Israeli establishment, including the opposition, refusing even the idea of Palestinian statehood.

We have now about 7.3 million people, Palestinians, living on the land of historic Palestine versus about 7.1 Jewish Israelis. We're equal, if not a

little bit more than the Jewish Israelis. What's the solution? It's either two states, where Palestinians will have a state of their own that is

sovereign and that is free, or one democratic state with equal rights, which I really prefer if the Israelis are ready to accept it.

But if they don't want one state, they don't want two-state, what's their solution? Exactly what they are trying to do now in Gaza through ethnic

cleansing. And what they are trying to do in the West Bank by settlers colonial attacks on Palestinian communities, which have already evicted

more than 31 communities from their land.

AMANPOUR: Mustafa Barghouti, can I ask you the recent actions as part of this rejection of the statehood declaration. The Israeli government -- the

defense minister has just announced that he will allow Israelis into the northern part of the West Bank, which could pave the way for more

settlements. The finance minister has said that he will cut off Palestinian Authority tax revenues that means funding for running your security forces

and civil institutions.

Do you believe that -- well, first of all, what's that? Do you think that's going to last? And do you think actually this declaration hurts you more

than that helps you?

BARGHOUTI: Well, I think what -- no, I think the recognition helps us. But on the other hand, I think what the Israeli government is doing is proving

our points. These people want that -- totally annex all of the occupied territories and prevent Palestinians from the right of freedom and self-


Not only they are committing three terrible war crimes in Gaza today, including genocide, ethnic cleansing, and collective punishment, not only

they are causing starvation in Gaza, they are already reoccupying all of the West Bank. There is no city or village now in the West Bank that has

not been invaded in since the 7th of October by the Israeli army.

They have arrested more than 9,000 Palestinians in the West Bank alone. And add to that about 5,000 in Gaza. And that they are practicing terrible

torture to prisoners in Palestinian -- in the prisons, whether for the people in the West Bank or in Gaza. We've lost already tens of people

because of the torture. And that goes on.

They invade Jenin Camp, they invade Tulkarm Camp, yes, during the last 24 hours, they've killed around 12 people in Jenin camp. In Tulkarm, before

that, they attacked also the camp and killed so many people. What is the solution of this behavior of a government that has fascists in it -- like

Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, who declare all the time that they will fill the West Bank with settlements and settlers so that Palestinians would lose any

hope of a state of their own and would have to choose between leaving the country, which is ethnic cleansing, or accepting a life of subjugation,

which is apartheid, or die, which is exactly the genocide they are trying to practice now in Gaza.

AMANPOUR: Mustafa Barghouti --

BARGHOUTI: That is the reality of the government we are facing.

AMANPOUR: The ICC this week, as you know perfectly well, issued a request for arrest warrants. The crime of genocide was not included. Let's please

leave that aside. But crimes against humanity and war crimes were.

I assume you've -- I don't know, tell me your reaction about those things. But I assume that you accept the warrants out for the Hamas leaders as

well, given what happened on October 7th.

BARGHOUTI: We respect the independence of the ICC. We wanted to proceed with its investigation. They spoke about genocide because one of the war

crimes they spoke about was extermination of the Palestinian people.

We trust that any independent investigation that is fair will not equate between the occupier and the occupied, will not equate between the

oppressor and the oppressor.


AMANPOUR: Well, both sides are saying that Mustafa Barghouti. Both sides are saying that no equivalence. And extermination in this case, I ask,

means mass killing whether it's in Gaza, it doesn't mean genocide under this current arrest warrant request. And they accused Hamas of

extermination of the Israelis, the civilians, inside Israel on October 7. I want to know whether you accept that as well.

BARGHOUTI: I accept the right of the ICC to do the full investigation in a fair manner. And we trust and the independence of the court. Let them do

the investigation. Let the Israelis allow the investigation of what happened on the 7th of October.

There were lots of false stories about beheading of children, which turned out to be untrue, about sexual abuse, which just associated press has just

proven or declared that lots of it was falsification and fabrication by the Israeli side. Let the investigation take place. Who is refusing an

international commission? It's Israel. We accepted it. Let an international independent commission come and investigate everything.

They speak about one day, the 7th of October. Israel has been committing war crimes for 228 days up until now in Gaza. As a matter of fact, they

have been committing war crimes against us as people since 76 years, including ethnic cleansing, including apartheid, including the longest

occupation in modern history, and now, including ethnic cleansing. This has to stop.

And we do accept international law. It's the Israeli side that says that it has the right to be above international law.

AMANPOUR: OK. Mustafa Barghouti --

BARGHOUTI: You know, the most important value of the ICC decision is that it said that Israel is no longer has the right to be -- to have impunity in

front of international law.

AMANPOUR: It said all sides have no right. No -- it equated victims.

BARGHOUTI: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: It equated victims, and this was solely focused on victims. And, Mustafa, there are all sorts of things coming out. But some of the body cam

video that has been released is truly shocking that was found on the dead Hamas fighters -- terrorists. It's truly shocking. And we're going to talk

more about that. But for the moment, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

So, while Netanyahu insists that the IDF is "the most moral army in the world," our next guest says that occupation has, in fact, corrupted the

humanity of Israel's military. He's Avner Gvaryahu, and he's a former IDF soldier. He's also the director of Breaking the Silence, an organization of

Israeli veterans opposed to the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories. And he's joining me now from Tel Aviv. Avner Gvaryahu, welcome

to the program.


AMANPOUR: At this incredibly difficult time, inside Israel and around, you chose to publicize an op-ed essentially talking about the corruption of the

humanity of your own soldiers, your own military. Why did you decide to do that now, and based on what experience?

GVARYAHU: You know, we're -- I'm sitting here in Tel Aviv and we're speaking, I have a six-month-old baby that was born into war. Rockets were

there from the moment he saw this world. Friends of mine were killed on October 7th. I know families who are crying over their loved ones. And I

understand in the deepest way possible the fear and even wish for revenge after the horrific actions on that day, but we've been at this war for

almost eight months, and the death toll and the bodies and the destruction is just something that I feel I cannot be silent about anymore.

I believe full heartedly that we Israelis have the right for security. I just don't believe that what we're doing in Gaza is helping our security.

And I fear that this government is drunk on revenge and inability to bring back our hostages. And in that sense, the cease fire call has to go hand in

hand with the bring them home. Those things do not contradict. I feel that my government sees them as a contradiction, and that's why I felt I need to

say my part.

AMANPOUR: Can you give me your own experience? Because you have joined and now you direct Breaking the Silence. And as we know, it is former IDF

soldiers who, as we said, opposed the occupation and what it's done, not just to Palestinians, but to Israel and Israeli soldiers themselves.


GVARYAHU: Yes, I mean, we've been around for 20 years and we've met thousands of soldiers who have served in the West Bank and in Gaza. We've

met --

AMANPOUR: Avner, hold on one second. Sorry, Avner. Stand by, we're going to continue this. But first, we're going to Washington, where President

Biden is holding a press conference with the Kenyan president, William Ruto.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: And we're fulfilling that wish together, and we're continuing. I truly believe it has brought out the best in both of

us, not only in Kenya and America but around the world, it's had positive impact.

But, through our partnership, we're continuing to meet our responsibilities in four key areas. First, I'm proud to announce we're working with Congress

to designate Kenya a major non-NATO ally. That's a fulfillment of years of collaboration. Our joint counter-terrorism operations have degraded ISIS

and Al-Shabaab across East Africa. Our mutual support for Ukraine has rallied the world to stand behind the U.N. charter. And our work together

on Haiti is helping pave the way to reduce instability and insecurity.

And I want to thank you, Mr. President, for Kenya's leadership for the Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti. Our new partner -- global

partnership is going to build on all this progress. And we're going to make -- and meet new challenges with more resources, and it's going to

strengthen security of our countries and our countries around the world.

Second, we're deepening our economic cooperation. Both President Ruto and I have focused on growing economies -- are growing economies and growing them

from the bottom up and the middle out -- the bottom up, and when that happens, everybody does well, not the top down, because when the middle

class does well, the poor have a ladder up and the wealthy still do very well. That's true in Kenya, that's true in America, and that's true around

the world.

But right now, many companies -- many countries, debt stands in the way of growth. Too many nations are forced to make a choice between development

and debt, between investing in their people and paying back their creditors.

So, today, we're launching what we're calling the Nairobi-Washington Vision. This -- in -- this initiative is going to bring together

international financial institutions and nations from all around the world to mobilize more resources for countries saddled with debt, to open more

opportunities to the private sector financing, and to promote transparent, sustainable, and affordable lending practices.

These are big goals. It's going to take time to see lasting progress, but we're providing $250 million, the United States is, to the World Bank in a

crisis response window. In the coming weeks, the United States is going to make an additional $21 billion available to the International Monetary


And today, I'm proud to announce there'll be $250 billion in new lending capacity for multilateral development banks, like the World Bank, to help

low-income nations invest in their development and tackle growing challenges. This is supported by the United States and many other countries

as well.

Next, we're launching a new era of technological cooperation between the United States and Kenya. That means new partnerships, new partnerships with

industry, artificial intelligence, semiconductors, and cybersecurity company. New initiatives to expand affordable Internet all across East

Africa. New education programs are going to bring Kenyan student to the United States to study in the STEM fields.

And I'm proud to announce that I'm working with Congress to make Kenya as the first country in Africa to receive funding through the CHIPS and

Science Act, which has served us well. This funding would link their supply chains to the United States and to our partners, and spur innovation, and

it extends from Silicon Valley in California to Silicon Savannah in Kenya, which, by the way, is already a $1 billion tech hub -- already a $1 billion

tech hub.

Finally, we're ensuring democracy delivers for our people. That includes Kenya's diaspora community here in the United States. Two years ago, our

nation's first black vice president -- President Kamala Harris, launched the nation's first Presidential Advisory Council on African Diaspora

Engagement. Today, we're building on her work to strengthen longstanding bonds between our people.

I also want to thank you, Mr. President, for taking action to implement the long-awaited Public Benefits Organization Act, which provides historic

protections for civil society and NGOs all across Kenya. Like you, I believe the future's going to be won by countries that unleash the full

potential -- the full potential of their populations, including civil society, women, and young people.


And I look forward to working together to implement this act and jump- starting the anti-corruption reforms, to promote democratic values that bind our nations together.

Now, let me close with this -- taken together, these are responsibilities Kenya and America must meet in the years ahead, and meet them together as

partners for security, for prosperity, for innovation, and most importantly, for democracy. But I know these responsibilities will wake the

best in us, and I know we'll bring our -- not only -- bring our nations together.

But I want to thank you for -- again, Mr. President, for being here and knowing we have even bigger dreams for the cooperation of our countries.

The floor is yours, sir.

WILLIAM RUTO, KENYAN PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. President, and I want to, in a very, very sincere way, thank you, Mr. President, for inviting me to

make this state visit to the United States on behalf of the people and government of Kenya. I also take this opportunity to express my deep

gratitude for the warm welcome we have received on our arrival and the excellent hospitality of the American people.

My visit provides us, Mr. President, with the opportunity to celebrate 60 years of bilateral relations rooted on shared values of freedom, democracy,

rule of law, equality, and inclusivity. My visit takes place at a time when democracy's perceived to be retreating worldwide.

The accelerating drift towards regions indifferent to democratic values is of deep concern to us, and I believe it is time the U.S., working with

Kenya, deploys its capabilities and rally like-minded democratic countries to set up the cause for democracy.

During our discussions, we agreed on the significant opportunity for the U.S. to radically recalibrate its strategy and strengthen its support for

Africa, as discussed at the U.S.-Africa Leadership Summit, by enhancing its investment in the institutions of African integration and increasing

support for peace and security.

As we take this historic step of elevating our partnership to be more effective in address -- in addressing global challenges, it is important

for us to appreciate that many countries in Africa, including Kenya, are struggling with an overwhelming convergence of multiple shocks, including

extreme climate events, debt distress, and the disruptive upheavals in Europe and the Middle East, whose cumulative impact is to divert national

resources from investment in people and economic growth into managing climate in -- induced crisis and servicing sovereign debt.

For this reason, I have underscored the imperative for our partnership to facilitate recovery from this multiple crisis, and particularly for the

United States of America to take a leading role in a comprehensive debt resolution framework by doubling contribution to the concessional financing

window of the World Bank and also to work with the IMF on re-channeling SDRs to institutions like the Africa Development Bank to further leverage

on private sector funding to support countries. Unless this is done and done immediately, the values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law are

in great jeopardy.

On regional peace and security in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region, I expressed optimism that Kenya and the U.S. will innovatively

design appropriate defense and security frameworks to help Kenya, as the anchor state, and the region in general to deal with the peace and security

challenges that are undermining human wellbeing, slowing down development, and also having a negative impact on democracy.

We affirmed our mutual commitment to the stabilization of Haiti through the multinational security support mission. The Kenya-U.S. Climate and Clean

Energy Industrial Partnership we have just committed to is an encouraging milestone on our collective journey, and builds on the paradigm shift we

have inaugurated at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi last year.


Accordingly, Africa's resource potential is a huge opportunity to deploy U.S. technology and investment to catalyze unprecedented growth through

green industrialization.

We've also agreed to hasten the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunities Act to sustain the rising momentum of our investments and

exports in the manufacturing space. Similarly, we agreed to undertake sustainable green growth by facilitating conclusion of our strategic trade

and investment partnership alongside the renewal of our goal. During our discussions, I witnessed firsthand President Biden's and the U.S.

government's determination to make our partnership work and resolve spread and deepen the roots of freedom, democracy, security, and prosperity

throughout the world.

As my visit comes to a close, I am confident that our engagements have laid a solid foundation for us to continue the work -- the good work we have

begun with stronger faith and greater hope for success because in Joe Biden, Kenya and Africa have a strong and committed friend. I thank you.

BIDEN: Thank you, Mr. President. You do have a friend. And you know, the African (INAUDIBLE) a billion people now too soon. The idea we're going to

ignore it makes no sense at all.

First question. Michael Wilner, McClatchy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President. Two questions, if I may, on - -

BIDEN: No, one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to do my level best. On Haiti and on Israel. Your administration went on a worldwide search for security forces,

Beninese forces, Bangladeshi, Canadian, Chilean, any but American forces, to stand up this multinational security support mission for Haiti before

Kenya stood up to lead. Can you explain why it is that you believe on the one hand, that this mission is so critical, and on the other, why it is

that you have categorically ruled out contributing U.S. forces to this effort? Is it your goal to beat back Haiti's gangs or to contain them?

And on Israel, does the United States --

BIDEN: One question. I'll answer your question.


BIDEN: The question with regard to Haiti is, we concluded that for the United States to deploy forces in the hemisphere just raises all kinds of

questions that can be easily misrepresented about what we're trying to do, and be able to be used by those who disagree with us and against our --

against the interest of Haiti and the United States. So, we set out to find a partner or partners who would lead that effort that we would participate

in, not with American forces, but with supplies and making sure they have what they needed.

And so, you know, I'm very grateful, President Ruto's leadership here, a multinational effort. But Kenya's willingness to really lead this matter

matters. You're not the only country, but you're leading this effort, and there's going to be U.S. forces not on the ground, we're going to supply

logistics, intelligence and equipment, and in fact, some equipment's already arrived. And Kenya's stepping up with police, and other countries

plan to do, as well. The United States' going to support the collective effort here.

And of course, Kenya won't be going it alone. We're working with Congress to provide $300 million to MSS mission, and an additional $60 million for

equipment assistance. And we have also -- we have received and are continuing to bring major contributions from other partners in, as well.

President Ruto and I agree that the Haitian people deserve better. They deserve peace and security, and I thank him for taking on this

responsibility, but we have his back and we're there all the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do have a question for you, President Ruto. But before I do very briefly have a question on whether the United States has

any evidence at all that would substantiate the ICC prosecutor's specific allegations against Israeli leaders, that they are using starvation as a

tactic of war in Gaza, or exculpatory evidence, for that matter. And what - - if you would commit to releasing that information before any potential issuance of ICC arrest warrants.


And, President Ruto, at the mission that Kenya is about to lead in Haiti, is obviously a support mission. That is well-known. But the fact is that

Haiti's national police have been internationally funded and trained for some time, and nevertheless, have obviously failed to beat back these

gangs. Will Kenyan forces, in partnership with the MSS, be out front in the fight against these gangs? Or will they be a static force behind the HNP?

And are you concerned about casualties among the Kenyan forces?

RUTO: Thank you very much. Kenya believes that the responsibility of peace and security anywhere in the world, including in Haiti, is the collective

responsibility of all nations and all peoples who believe in freedom, self- determination, democracy and justice, and it is the reason why Kenya took up this responsibility, because we have been participating in peacemaking

and we have been participating in peacekeeping over the last 40 years in 47 countries, including very difficult neighborhoods like what we are going to

face in Haiti.

We are going to take up that responsibility alongside the Haiti police, and we have clear modus operandi how we are going to relate with the situation

on the ground that has been agreed under the United Nations framework. So, we are looking forward to this deployment because we believe that the women

and children in Haiti deserve peace like all other women and children and people around the world.

BIDEN: Look, we made my position known on the ICC. You guys never keep the deal, but that's OK. That, you know, we've made our position clear on the

ICC. We don't think the -- we don't recognize the jurisdiction of high -- ICC the way it's being exercised and it's that simple. We don't think

there's an equivalence between what Israel did and what Hamas did.

OK. Next -- I -- do I ask the next question as well?

RUTO: Let me ask. Are you (INAUDIBLE) from Kenya for the next question? (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President, thank you. One question, and this is on Haiti. President Biden, Kenya is rather -- lift -- doing the

heavy lifting in a (INAUDIBLE) region, Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Washington, as you have mentioned, has committed millions of dollars for the cause in Haiti. Isn't it ironic that while America is ending its

forever wars in Afghanistan, the latest in 2021, and the UN leadership (INAUDIBLE) from Kabul, and that you're committing Kenya to another --

foreign wars 12,000 kilometers away from Nairobi?

I mean, why the discrepancy? Why the dichotomy while you're ending your forever wars, overseas wars, yet you are committing Kenya to Haiti? Can you

explain that?

BIDEN: Very easily. There's reason why Afghanistan has been known as the graveyard of empires. The likelihood of anybody uniting Afghanistan is

highly, highly, highly unlikely, number one. Number two, there are ways to control ISIS other than occupying Afghanistan. It was an unnecessary need.

Now, with regard to Haiti, Haiti is an area of the Caribbean that is very volatile, there's a lot going on in this hemisphere, and we're in a

situation where we want to do all we can without us looking like America once again is stepping over and deciding this is what must be done.

Haitians are looking for help, as well as the folks in the Caribbean are looking for help. And so, we checked out with a number of other countries.

The one who stepped up was Haiti. We've committed to provide the wherewithal, the intelligence and equipment and the like to Haiti. And so,

it's a logical thing. And you have a first-rate capability and you keep your word. That's an important dynamic.

RUTO: I agree with President Biden that Kenya's participation in Haiti is not so much about what happened in the past, it's about what we believe in,

the peace and security of humanity. And we don't find that the U.S. is committing Kenya because the U.S. cannot commit Kenya. I am the President

of Kenya. It's me to make that decision, and it's the people of Kenya to commit their own troops, using their own structures.


We've gone through the processes in Kenya. Parliament has approved. We have a clear mandate, we have a clear framework, and it is us, the people of

Kenya, who make this decision in the interests of serving peace and stability as a responsible global citizen, and understanding that

insecurity, instability anywhere is insecurity and instability everywhere.

BIDEN: And by the way, you asked about -- you implied we weren't doing anything anywhere else. Well, we -- we're kind of occupied around the world

but we're also engaging in the Congo, in that neighborhood.

And, you know, we're going to continue to help alleviate human suffering. The United States is the largest humanitarian donor, providing $375 million

in humanitarian funding just this year, including support for more than 6 million displaced people from the DRC. So, we are engaged in more than one


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A follow-up to my President, Dr. Ruto. You said that Kenya is committed. And in your (INAUDIBLE) speech in Atlanta, you said

it's based on humanitarianism, helping Haiti out. But can you explain the geopolitical goal 12,000 kilometers away from Nairobi when schools in the

counties of Baringo, West Pokot, and Turkana have not yet opened because of the banditry (ph) problem, yet you are committing our national police force

to Haiti and waste the priorities, this being one of your major manifesto pillars, talking about security, and to the extent that even the defense

cabinet secretary talked about the deployment of, if need be, the Kenyan military or the special personnel to make sure that the schools are

reopened, children go to school in areas that are banditry (ph) in Kenya.

Why are you committing to Haiti when we have a problem back home? Isn't it an irony that you are putting the fire in the faraway neighbor's home when

you are -- we are -- on -- our own home is on fire?

RUTO: Thank you very much. I made a commitment to the people of Kenya to sort out insecurity in the North Rift. I have followed that with action. As

we talk, there are 3,000 military officers in the North Rift, 2,000 police officers in the North Rift. We have renovated the first 15 schools and

completed. We have reopened 20 schools already that were closed in the North Rift. And that exercise is ongoing.

We have made tremendous progress in making sure that we cleared security at home, but that does not take away our responsibility -- even as we were

deploying troops and policemen in our own country, in North Rift, to sort out the banditry (ph) problem, we still deployed 1,000 -- 1,000 troop --

troops to DRC, Congo, because that is our neighborhood. We have 5,000 troops in Somalia because equally that is our responsibility.

And Haiti should not be an exception. That's why deploying 1,000 security men to Haiti speaks with the same belief and commitment to peace and


BIDEN: Next question is from April Ryan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Presidents, President Biden and President Ruto, thank you. First of all, when you talk about Haiti, President Ruto, you

said, Haiti is a collective responsibility for all nations. And for you, Mr. President, President Biden and President Ruto, do you believe that

these nations can break the back of this militia that has gripped the nation there?

And also, when it comes to Congo -- and thank you, Mr. President, for bringing up what the United States is doing for the Congo, especially as

that flag was behind you at Morehouse -- Mr. President, could you tell me what the African Union is doing, as well as Kenya's doing, when it comes to

the humanitarian crisis in the Congo? Thank you.

BIDEN: What was my question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, your question was Haiti. Can the United States and Kenya, or the nations collectively, break the backs of this coordinated

militia that has the grips of the nation -- that nation? Thank you.



BIDEN: The very way we're doing it. We're not talking about a 1,000-person army that's made up of trained person -- this is a crisis. It's able to be

dealt with, and we think we can belt (ph) with this way with a multinational approach, with Haiti leading the way and us providing the

intelligence as well as equipment.


RUTO: Gangs and criminals do not have nationalities. They have no religion. They have no language. Their language is one -- to deal with them

firmly, decisively, within the parameters of the law. And that's why we're building a coalition of nations beyond Kenya and the U.S, many who are

making contribution towards the MSS force in Haiti to secure that country and to break the back of the gangs and the criminals that have visited

untold suffering in that country.

On DRC, the A.U., the East African community and Kenya are seized with that (ph). I've just told you that Kenya had a thousand troops in Haiti. We now

have another 800 -- not in Haiti, but in DRC. We now have another 800 troops from SADC. We are going to be having a meeting of the East African

community. I did send my minister of -- my foreign minister to Kinshasa. They had a conversation, and shortly, we will be looking at how to begin

the dialogue process, another Nairobi process, because we believe there is no military solution to what is going on in DRC, but instead, dialogue

should be able to give us the necessary momentum and outcomes that would settle the matters in eastern DRC.

So, both the A.U., the East African community and Kenya as a country are seized of that matter. We know that the humanitarian crisis in eastern DRC

has displaced close to 7 million people, and I want to thank the United States of America for stepping in with humanitarian support for that

region, because it is a collaboration of different countries in different ways to deal with that situation. The rest of us are committing troops. We

are committing our -- deploying our infrastructure to facilitate the resolution of the matters in DRC.

BIDEN: Is that it?

RUTO: Let me ask Nancy Agutu (ph) from Kenya. She is here? OK, Nancy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President. Africa's asking America to lead the way and double its contribution to the World Bank's international

development assistance to help developing countries access more financing, to alleviate debt distress, and to tackle climate change. What is your

commitment of this? Thank you.

BIDEN: Would you -- I'm sorry, I didn't catch all your question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry. I'm saying Africa is asking America to lead the way and double its contribution to the World Bank's international

development assistance to help developing countries --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- to access financing to alleviate debt distress and to tackle climate change. What is your commitment on this?

BIDEN: We made a major commitment to this. Number one, as I said, the United States has long championed international financial institutions that

provide low-cost concessional resources to the poorest developing countries, including from the IMF. To that end, my administration helped

design and establish the IMF's new initiative that provides low-cost funding to -- for countries that are taking steps to enhance their


Important partners in Africa have the capital (INAUDIBLE) to ensure they have their capital they need to invest in their futures. We heard them, and

we stand with them.

Now, that's why we've worked with Congress to enable the United States to make available, in the coming weeks, up to $21 billion in new lending

resources to the IMF Trust Fund that provides concessional lending to the poorest countries. It's a little like, you know, having to go -- when

you're in debt, having to go and find someone to help you out. That's what this is about. We believe supporting friends and this partnership is happy

to -- we're happy to do our part.

And look, we've also doubled our commitment to the IDA, and I'm proud the United States is the biggest donor to the IDA in this cycle.