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The Amanpour Hour

Interview With Daniel Levy; Interview With "Origin" Director Ava Duvernay; Ukrainian Troops Facing Critical Ammunition Shortages; Interview With NASA Deputy Administrator Pamela Melroy; Israeli Settlements And The Problematic Path To Peace. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired January 27, 2024 - 11:00   ET



LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, JOURNALIST & PODCAST HOST, "NEW YORK TIMES": A.I. is very dangerous when it comes to misinformation, the way it can mimic voices.

And what it does is it pollutes our information system. People don't know what they're listening to. People don't know who to trust anymore. And that is going to -- I'm -- I fear have a very, very terrible impact on our body politic.

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: And very briefly because we always mention Taylor Swift -- these awful, fake, pornographic images out of her, she's outraged about it. Everybody is outraged about it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That came out on X, formerly Twitter and it's been, again, something that is really, really dangerous and very difficult to control.

WALLACE: Thank you all for being here, gang.

Thank you for spending part of your day with us. We'll see you right back here next week.


Here's where we're headed this week.


AMANPOUR: Running out of patience, Biden counts the political cost of the carnage in Gaza, as Netanyahu rejects the two-state solution.

DANIEL LEVY, PRESIDENT, U.S.-MIDDLE EAST PROJECT: We've been doing a make-believe peace process for 30 years.

AMANPOUR: Also ahead, combat veteran, test pilot and space shuttle commander, NASA's number two Pam Melroy on why returning to the moon is a giant leap for all human kind.

PAMELA MELROY, DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR, NASA: This is not about a camping trip. This is actually about pushing humanity into the solar system. Then, acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernay on exploring the root causes of

racism in her new movie "Origin".

And -- from military aid stymied in Congress to the agonizing stalemate on the battlefield, we take you to the Ukrainian front line, where ammunition is running dangerously low.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: By the way, they're not even explosive rounds, they're smoke rounds.


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

It's one of the world's most consequential diplomatic relationships, the United States and Israel, allies for decades. Militarily and diplomatically the U.S. has offered Israel its unwavering support in the face of many wars. And after Hamas brutally murdered 1,200 Israelis on October 7th, it was ironclad.

But that enduring relationship is now facing its greatest test. The horrific civilian death toll in Gaza, more than 25,000 Palestinians now dead, is fracturing relations, both openly and behind the scenes.

The Biden administration is asking Israel to use greater restraint in its assault in Gaza, while also pushing for a post-war peace plan. But, so far, Prime Minister Netanyahu is in no mood to listen. He's repeatedly rejected calls for a Palestinian state.

Daniel Levy is a former Israeli peace negotiator and he now serves as president of the U.S.-Middle East Project and he's joining me here in the studio.

Welcome to the program.

The United States is clearly, along with its allies, and this started to take shape in the last week, saying that the only way out of this in terms of, you know, normalization with the Arab states that Israel wants, peace and security for Israel, is to have an end which shows a Palestinian state, and an end to the occupation.

Netanyahu is publicly taking to the air waves to say, absolutely not. Inside his cabinet, his war cabinet, there seems to be a split over the way he's behaving, both to the U.S. and in terms of his conduct of the war.

What do you make of people as esteemed as Geti Eisenkot, the former chief of the military staff there, saying that, you know, there needs to be elections now in Israel, and Netanyahu needs to start telling the truth to the Israeli people?

LEVY: Well, I think there's a couple of things going on here. Firstly, those guys are not endorsing this end of occupation stuff, but I think what they're saying is, at least go along with. We've been doing a make-believe peace process for 30 years, why can't

we keep going along with it to protect that relationship? And then you can get rid of these guys, Ben-Gvir and Smotrich. Bibi doesn't want to lose them.

I think it's too easy actually to make them the four guys. They're the symptom, not the cause. They're saying we need to do ethnic cleansing because apartheid won't work.

The other thing that's going on, and this is important in the internal dynamics, Eisenkot to an extent lesser (ph), Gantz and they're together politically, are looking at this and saying this war effort is facing the law of diminishing returns. It's not going to achieve the maximalist goals that Netanyahu set.

They wouldn't say this but I think it's cut your losses, get the hostages out, rebuild for another day.


LEVY: Not that the war is unpopular in Israel, but the direction that it's gone in, in terms of not being able to deliver, either leads to more extremism, or you pull back. And I think they understand that the former course ends even worse for Israel.

AMANPOUR: Gadi Eisenkot called for elections, and they know very well given Netanyahu's plummeting and rock bottom polls that that would be the end of Netanyahu. What would that look like inside Israel?

LEVY: Well, this is why Netanyahu, of course, does not want this war to end because the simple answer to that question is, the polls may be wrong, but what they consistently have shown is that Netanyahu is going to take a shellacking. He's not going to come back. So he looks around, he undermines the Qatari mediation on the hostages by insulting them. He maintains the option of an escalation in the north with Hezbollah in Lebanon. He pushes back against the Americans.

So it's a choice internally of when they leave and it's a choice externally of whether you allow him, Netanyahu, to make the weather, continue bombing the Houthis in Yemen, dealing with the (INAUDIBLE), the militia in Iraq, or whether you say, cut.

But that requires getting the cease-fire in Gaza, and it probably requires making that disagreement public rather than keeping it private.

AMANPOUR: What should President Biden do to try to end this, make Israel safe, make the Palestinians have some kind of hope for the future, and save his own presidency?

LEVY: There's a short and long-term horizon to that, of course. The short-term horizon is, if you want to end this, perhaps save your own presidency, you're going to have to do the thing you apparently don't want to do. Do it in February rather than in September. Because this could keep going on. And that is, put a clear choice on the table. You're not going to get

the weapons under these circumstances, the destruction, the killing of civilians. Place conditionality, kick start that debate inside Israel. Don't dismiss the International Court of Justice. Don't veto stuff at the U.N. You can use a combination of those things.

Challenge Netanyahu -- if you don't want a Palestinian state, are you offering people equality, equal rights in this one space you have created.

The longer-term horizon I think looks very different. I think in the longer-term horizon, don't waste this crisis, rethink the failed peace process. Don't push us back into this apartheid box. Give the Israelis a different landing space. And crucially, allow Palestinian politics to breathe, to be renewed, don't force the Palestinian authority to return to be the governors of a bantu stand and acknowledge that Hamas is going to be part of the political equation.

AMANPOUR: Yes. That's something that --


AMANPOUR: -- that's something that really does stick in very many craws (ph). But clearly there are ways and as we keep pointing out in every intractable war situation they've had to make peace with their enemies as opposed to their friends. So, that will be -- we'll wait to see that.

Now you keep saying the Biden administration could put conditions on military aid. This week, a Democratic senator has proposed that, and I think a majority of the Senate -- senators, a big majority, have agreed that any more aid, actually, has to include the two-state solution.

A previous amendment that a previous senator wants to do, was to restraint on, you know, the human rights angle. But this one, about the two-state solution seems to be gaining support.

LEVY: I think there is frustration, on the Democrat side of the House, because the Republicans have gone on a different journey in many respects, also in terms of the filiality (ph) to the evangelical base, tremendously pro-Israel.

On the Democrat side their constituency is in a very different place. Biden seems to live with an Israel that perhaps never existed, maybe in the 50s, the 70s. But the politics domestically looks different and there is seething anger inside constituencies that will need to turn out to vote in November over the way this has been handled.

Not just Palestinian, Arab, Muslim Americans, not just progressive Jewish Americans, but ordinary, especially young voters.

AMANPOUR: Finally, Angus King, Independent senator from Maine, has said that both Hamas and Putin are waiting for the election to see who wins, and hoping, you know, certainly Putin is hoping that it might be a Trump. What do you think the result of the election will mean in this case

for the Middle East?

LEVY: Well, I think geopolitically let's just acknowledge it. the way the administration has handled this conflict in Gaza has done tremendous self-harm to any ability of the Americans to claim, to lead, values, et cetera, international law.


LEVY: But when it comes to this conflict, I don't think Hamas are waiting not for Trump, not for Biden. I think Hamas have achieved an incredible result -- horrific activities, but they put out a document explaining their narrative. They are making the political weather. They are shattering the myth of Israeli invincibility.

They have shown capacities in asymmetric warfare. So the tectonic plates are shifting. This isn't the situation we had before.

We're going to have to adapt to that reality, whatever administration it is in America, and Israel's going to have to adapt to that reality.

AMANPOUR: It's a really, really difficult one. Daniel Levy, thank you so much, indeed.

LEVY: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And coming up on the program, controversy after the Oscars snubbed "Barbie's" Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig.

Award winning director Ava DuVernay gives me her reaction, and discusses her new movie "Origin".

Also ahead, NASA's number 2, Pam Melroy on the race to return to the moon and life beyond our world.


AMANPOUR: Break some news for us here, how realistic is it finding life outside, and off our planet?

MELROY: Well, I personally think it's inevitable.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Racism and prejudice, a scourge that's plagued history in practically every corner of the globe. My next guest has made exploring racism in America her life's work. And Ava DuVernay does that again in her latest film "Origin". Hits like "Selma" and "when They See Us" earned the director global acclaim but "Origin" takes things beyond the United States, even drawing parallels with Nazi, Germany and India's caste system.

Here's a clip from the trailer.


AUNJANUE ELLIS-TAYLOR, ACTRESS: I want to be in the story, really inside the story and build a thesis that shows how all of this is linked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got to be honest with you, I don't understand. I don't see it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You go and write your stories. Folks need to know about this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're trying to make sense of racism, but your thesis is flawed.


AMANPOUR: So it is inspired by Isabel Wilkerson's 2020 bestseller "Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents". And DuVernay joined me to talk about essentially bringing this huge idea to the screen as a movie.


AMANPOUR: Ava DuVernay, welcome to the program.

AVA DUVERNAY, DIRECTOR, "ORIGIN": Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: So this is an amazing film from an amazing book. When did you first pick up the book and know that this was phenomenal and that you wanted to turn it into a film?

DUVERNAY: I had heard about the -- about the book a couple of months before it came out. It hit in the summer of 2020, a couple of months after the murder of George Floyd.

And so, reading it during that time, I think I had a very heightened response to it. It was very sensitive to the thesis that it set out to share.

And I immediately thought that this was information. And a lot of emotion in the book that I wanted to put in an accessible form of film.

AMANPOUR: I found it really interesting that you started your film with the murder of Trayvon Martin. I'm going to play a clip of, you know, the actress playing Isabel around this issue, and then we'll talk about it.


ELLIS-TAYLOR: I don't write questions. I write answers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Questions like what?

ELLIS-TAYLOR: Like why does a Latino man deputize himself to stalk a black boy to protect an all-white community? What is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The racist bias I want you to explore, excavate for the readers.

ELLIS-TAYLOR: You call everything racism. What does it even mean anymore? It's the default.


AMANPOUR: So, I guess that's the kernel, isn't it? We call everything racism. What does it mean? It's the default. Do you agree with that? Do you agree with her thesis that not everything can be attributed only to racism?

DUVERNAY: Well, I mean, I think the thing that was really fascinating to me about the book was this idea that it's not either or, it's not racism or caste, that they are one and the same. That caste undergirds -- it's the foundation of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, ageism, all the isms sit on top of this idea of caste, which is the notion of human hierarchy, that power and status is activated by this sense of putting one person over another for a set of random traits.

That was a catalyzing idea for me. It was a revelatory notion that I really wanted to explore as a curious person who's interested in history and the world around me.

And really what we invite people to do when they watch the picture, you know, there are elements of it that really allowed me to organize my thoughts about myself and my place in the world in a new way.

AMANPOUR: You know, my big aha moment, one of many, in talking to Isabel about her book and then in watching your film and in other, you know, reports on it, is that how the Nazis got so much of their ideas from the American Jim Crow miscegenation.

Can you just explain, because you portray it as, you know, Isabel, she's in Berlin, she goes to the library, and she sees this picture of a group of Nazis discussing something, and she investigates.

Tell us that, because it really is interesting.

DUVERNAY: Yes, it's portrayed in the film, and I think in the way -- very much in the way that I interpreted, Isabel telling me she was on a research trip to -- in Berlin. And she was in libraries, and she was, you know, trying to, you know, really look at the work of people who had studied caste before.


DUVERNAY: She didn't come up with this idea. Obviously, this is a well-researched and well-published studies of this phenomenon and the way it works in (INAUDIBLE) time. But there was a particular moment in her studies where she was able to

read transcripts from a meeting where Nazi lawyers talked about having gone to the United States and they were reporting on what they found.

I was able to read those transcripts as well. And it's shocking the way that at one point in the meeting they say, this is too harsh. We'll never be able to get away with this like the Americans have. But we can do this and this, and they cherry pick. But it's all from a blueprint of Americans and Jim Crow laws and the ways in which people were kept apart, particularly around the issue of endogamy.

And so, it's just a fascinating information that I did not know and wanted to make sure that we all know.

AMANPOUR: I don't know whether you call yourself a historian, but you are a historian. Your films have been about very crucial parts of American history. The black experience, the -- you know, the oppression, the slavery and all of that at "Selma", "When They See Us," all of those are so dramatic.

Now, there are -- you said it yourself, I think, how on earth can I create this idea that, you know, that Isabel Wilkerson had into a film. How could I adapt such a huge theory into a film? And why didn't you make it as a documentary like "13th", for instance?

DUVERNAY: Well, I think I don't make films about -- for me, the films that I make that feature parts of African-American history or highlight that are about the survival and the joy and the triumph of a people who've overcome so much. So, that's the core of what I make and what I am feeling as I'm making it.

And, you know, I mean, I think you could probably ask Christopher Nolan why he didn't make "Oppenheimer" as a documentary. You could ask Scorsese why he didn't make "Killers of the Flower Moon" as a documentary. You know, it's an artistic choice.


DUVERNAY: I wanted to evoke empathy as opposed to just convey information. I use documentary to convey information. I use the narrative form to stir empathy.


DUVERNAY: And that was the goal in this.

AMANPOUR: And your goal was to get it out before this election.

And I also read that you are trying to encourage people to gift movie vouchers to young people so they also, you know, have empathy and information and they go watch "Origin".

What is it about the timing of it now, that was important to you before this election? Why?

DUVERNAY: Oh, I think, you know, the election that we are in the midst of election year here in the United States is one where we need people to kind of shake off any fatigue or apathy that we're feeling about where we are as a country and really lean in, engage, and have critical conversations about where we're going. And hopefully, this film can contribute to that conversation.

AMANPOUR: And I just want to ask you, because you did it, I mean, on a budget, right? I think I read $38 million you raised. That's not a huge amount, and you went to three different continents.

DUVERNAY: Yes, we made it independently. We're independent filmmakers. We're scrappy. And yes, some people hear $38 million and say, wow, that's a lot of money. But when you put it in contrast to the -- you know, the films that you've heard about over the past year, "Barbie" or "Oppenheimer," "Killers of the Flower Moon," it's about a third of those, the size of those.

And so, we're proud of what we were able to do on a shoestring, and I think it speaks to the testament of grit and of passion.

And yes, 37 days on three continents is how we make this picture out of my small black woman- led production company. So, anything is possible.

AMANPOUR: Yes, it certainly is.

So, you mentioned the Oscars and you mentioned specifically "Barbie" and the others. I don't know what you make of the current brouhaha over Greta Gerwig, a fellow female director who had the most box office success, I think, this year with "Barbie." And she did not get an Oscar nomination.

What do you make of all of that?

DUVERNAY: She did get an Oscar nomination. She's nominated in the screenplay category and Margot Robbie is nominated as a producer.


DUVERNAY: The film has eight Oscar nominations. So, I think everyone's going to be ok.

AMANPOUR: OK. I'm going to take that as your answer.


AMANPOUR: Just finally, you have Isabel saying in the movie, you don't escape trauma by ignoring it. You escape trauma by confronting it. I mean, that could be your raison d'etre, right, as a filmmaker?

DUVERNAY: Yes, I believe that's -- that is my contribution to the film as a screenwriter. That's what I truly believe.

And as we show issues of historical challenge, oppression, adversity, we have to show those things in order to understand the triumph and to feel the survival.


DUVERNAY: And if you are showing survival, you have to show what's been overcome and you have to walk through that trauma to get to the other side. And I think that is what I'm hoping to share in this among many other things.

AMANPOUR: Ava DuVernay, thank you very much.

DUVERNAY: Thank you for having me.


AMANPOUR: "Origin" is in cinemas now.

Still to come on the program -- from combat veteran to space shuttle commander, and now NASA's number two. I asked Pam Melroy if America can outrace its rivals back to the moon.

But first, Ukrainian troops face a critical shortage of ammunition. We take you right to the crisis on the front line when we come back.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

With the eyes of the world focused on Gaza, Ukraine is fighting for attention as Russia keeps up its missile barrage, killing innocent civilians. And this as supplies and ammunition are running low for Ukrainian forces at the front.

CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen brings us a closer look at the desperate situation on the ground.


PLEITGEN: Artillery is key as Ukrainian forces try to hold off massive Russian assaults on the eastern front. But Kyiv's ammo shortages are getting worse by the day.

This U.S.-provided M-109 Paladin Howitzer near Bakhmut is often silent because they don't have enough shells to target the Russians, the commanders tells me.

"We cannot fulfill our tasks 100 percent," he says, "although we really want to. My crew and other crews are just waiting for it, and are ready to work around the clock."

But it gets even worse. Finally, resupply does arrive, but it's only four rounds, and this type of ammo won't hurt the Russians much.

This really illustrates the shortages that Ukrainians have to deal with. Four rounds, that's all they're going to get right now, and by the way, they're not even explosive rounds, they're smoke rounds. These shells will barely explode on impact, it's almost like firing

cannon balls in medieval times. But the commander says sometimes it's all they can do.

"Every shell that is suitable for the Paladin, we use," he says, "It's better than no shells."

The Russians face no such shortages in this area, Ukrainian military intelligence believes Russia produced around 2 million rounds last year, and acquired around 1 million from North Korea. Massive barrages have laid waste to Bakhmut and much of the surrounding area.

At the headquarters of the 93rd Mechanized Brigade's artillery division, the frustration is palpable.

From their drones, they can see the Russians gather to continue their assaults on Ukrainian positions, but they often can't take them out because they need to conserve ammunition, the commander tells me.

"The ratio is about 10-1," he says, "ammunition is very important to us. Russia is a country that produces ammo, they have strategic reserves. Yes, they use old Soviet system but Soviet systems can still kill."

Even without enough ammo, the Ukrainians say they are stopping most Russian assaults here. And the M-109 crew did manage to fire at Russian positions. But they know they'll need a lot more firepower to stop Russian advances.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- near Bakhmut, Ukraine.


AMANPOUR: And to hammer home that point, Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said this week it's, quote, "absurd that North Korea was proving, quote, 'a more effective partner' for Russia than Ukraine's western allies when it comes to supplying artillery ammunition."

Coming up next on the program, NASA's second in command, Pam Melroy on alien life, and the global rush to return to the moon.


MELROY: This is not about a camping trip. This is actually about pushing humanity into the solar system.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

The space race, our next guest, has been at the very forefront, Pam Melroy is deputy administrator of NASA, and a former astronaut, one of only two women to command a space shuttle. Also she's a former military combat pilot and she's logged more than 38 days in space. The U.S. made more than a hundred space launches last year, more than

China, more than Russia, but its moon missions have had a string of setbacks and delays. I asked Melroy where this leaves the United States when she joined me from NASA HQ in Washington.


AMANPOUR: Pam Melroy, welcome to the program.

MELROY: Thank you, Christiane, I'm a fan, and I'm looking forward to our conversation.

AMANPOUR: Thank you. And I'm a huge space fan. I too, watched the moon walk, Apollo 11.

Can I just ask you this, though, are we in another space race? You know, for 50 years the United States dominated. And now with the private enterprise, you know, coming into the space, travel, the space exploration, we saw just recently very hyped (ph) SpaceX starships blowing up after takeoff in the U.S. last year.

NASA was hoping that these would really be, you know, some pioneering voyages. We see that. And then we heard the announcement that the Artemis mission to orbit the moon is going to be delayed. And then the next Artemis mission to land on the moon for the first time in decades is going to be further delayed.

At the same time, countries like India, China, Japan are having national celebrations about their successes. Does this worry you?

MELROY: Oh, not in the least. We have plenty of our own successes. And I think, you know, that's evident. Really, we have the only vehicle that is currently capable of taking humans to deep space. We're the only ones who have that capacity today.

So, that's huge, whatever you hope to do, if you don't have that. And it takes a long time to develop that capability.

Really, I think we look at this a little bit differently. Apollo was about taking a man to the moon and returning him safely to earth. And that was the end.

We're doing something very different with Artemis. We are trying to build a blueprint for responsible, sustained human exploration of the solar system, which means we need to take our time, we need to pay attention to safety.


MELROY: And we also need to be thinking about doing more much harder which is sustaining a human presence in deep space. This is not about a camping trip. This is actually about pushing humanity into the solar system.

We've learned from the space station how hard it is to sustain people in space, it's a huge logistical problem. So, from our standpoint we feel like we have all the pieces in place to go forward. We're going to do it methodically. We're going to do it safely. And we're going to do it for the benefit of humanity.

AMANPOUR: Are you concerned that space -- you know, space could be more weaponized. It could be yet another platform for more war.

MELROY: I would say that NASA is both concerned but also determined not to let those things happen. And that's why we're building an international coalition to go with us, especially as we push humanity out into deep space for responsible, sustained human presence throughout the solar system.

AMANPOUR: Ok. So break some news for us here, how realistic is it, do you think, or do you dream, of finding life outside, and off our planet?

Let me just quote a couple of astronauts. Tim Peak recently on CNBC says the James Webb telescope may have already found alien life. "We found a planet that seems to be giving off strong signals of biological life."

MELROY: Well, I personally think it's inevitable. One of the things that's really been transformative in planetary science over the last two or three decades is realizing that water which is a critical building block of life, is much more present, even in our solar system, than we ever imagined.

We thought asteroids were dry bodies that had absolutely no water. We had real questions, even about the moon. Now we're finding it in places we didn't expect.

Seeing those building blocks, and then our recent sample return from the asteroid Bennu shows not just water, but carbon, which is another critical building block of life. So I think it's only a matter of time.

I love the fact that we're finding biosignatures potentially through James Webb's space telescope. But the real benefit and the payoff is going to be when we go to Mars and see if we can find signs of life on our neighbor.

AMANPOUR: When will that be?

MELROY: Well, I think it's hard to know on the, frankly what you don't know yet. So we do know that it is our most interesting neighbor with the highest potential to find signs of life. So, as far as human presence goes we're really trying to set up a blueprint, and we're going to practice it on the moon.

But I'd like to see us head to Mars, I think with our plan, by the early 2040s.

AMANPOUR: Now, when you talked about Apollo you said its mission was to send a man to the moon and bring him back safely. That was not lost on me, or you, there has been no woman walking on the moon. And I wonder what you thought, what is your journey to the stars so to speak, what inspired you as a young girl?

MELROY: Well, I was totally inspired by the Apollo program, and what's interesting is as I have progressed through my career the number of scientists, pilots, engineers that I've met who were also inspired by the Apollo program.


NEIL ARMSTRONG, FORMER ASTRONAUT: That's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.


MELROY: So what is exciting to me is to see that our Artemis campaign, I believe, is going to unleash a tidal wave of young people interested in STEM and in space exploration. And this time it's going to happen all around the world. And I'm pretty excited about that.

AMANPOUR: And how did you get into this business?

MELROY: Well, back in the day the only astronauts that I knew about were military jet test pilots. So being a little stubborn, I decided that's what I was going to do, too, even though women were not actually allowed to fly yet in the military.

But I was very fortunate. I was born exactly at the right time, I think, Christiane, I feel very fortunate that the doors opened just ahead of me allowing women to fly jets in the Air Force. Allowing me to become a test pilot. And that was my progression to becoming an astronaut.

AMANPOUR: Test pilot, sounds so cool, and dangerous, and scary, and top gunny.

MELROY: And fun.

AMANPOUR: And fun, yes.

Pam Melroy, deputy administrator at NASA. Thank you so much for being with us.

MELROY: Thank you, Christiane. It was a pleasure.


AMANPOUR: When we come back, from my archive. As the U.S. tries to forge a two-state solution, how Israeli settlements have been obstacles to peace since the 1967 war.



AMANPOUR: Next we look into the archive as the war in Gaza pushes ahead, and the United States looks for solutions out of this endless cycle of death. In the occupied West Bank, Palestinians are increasingly coming under attack, violent attacks by Israeli settlers and the number of these settlers have been increasing for years there. That's despite the long-held opposition of the United States, Israel's main ally.

Take a listen.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States policy was that there should be no more settlements.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that our nation has differences with the nation of Israel over settlements.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Israel must remove unauthorized outposts and stop settlement expansion.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Israel will never have peace as long as they are confiscating and colonizing Palestinian land.


AMANPOUR: Support for these settlements has consistently been a barrier for peace. In 2007 we dug in to the origin story.


AMANPOUR: Six days that changed history -- the 1967 Six-Day War.

It put the heartland of biblical Judaism under Israeli control. Hanan Porat wanted to make sure it stayed that way.

HANAN PORAT, LEADER OF ISRAELI SETTLEMENT (through translator): We felt this was the time to seize the moment.

AMANPOUR: He and a small group of religious activists began planning a return to the land his parents once farmed. A community called Kfar Etzion in the now occupied West Bank.

PORAT: We were returning home and fulfilling the prophecy.

AMANPOUR: But the Israeli government was divided. Trade the captured land for peace or keep it and build Jewish settlements. But would settlements even be legal?

In researching his book "The Accidental Empire" Gershom Gorenberg discovered in Israel's archives these documents marked "Top Secret". Written in September 1967 by foreign ministry lawyer Theodor Meron, the memos are a warning that civilian settlement contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention which protects people living under occupation.

But if Theodor Meron's legal opinion was correct, how is it that Israelis would build as many as 250 settlements and outputs in the middle of Arab land?

SHIMON PEREZ, FORMER ISRAELI PRESIDENT: The legal adviser of the foreign ministry doesn't tell us how to defend our lives.

AMANPOUR: President Shimon Perez, one of Israel's longest serving and highest-ranking politicians initially supported settlements.

Are you saying Theodor Meron was wrong?

PEREZ: I don't know if he was wrong or right from a legal point of view. But he was wrong from a pragmatic point of view. Isael was under a steady attack all the time.

AMANPOUR: So just to help me understand this, for the Israeli leadership at the time, pragmatism triumphed over international law?

PEREZ: What you call pragmatism was in our eyes --

AMANPOUR: You just said pragmatism.

PEREZ: -- pragmatism in the sense of security or defending our lives, yes.

AMANPOUR: President Perez now says getting rid of most of the settlements is key to a lasting peace.

Israel's official position is that its settlements do not violate international law. It calls the West Bank disputed territory not occupied because it says it was never a recognized independent country.

PEREZ: The real problem is you can call it pragmatic, you can call it illegal. Was the war over? It was not.

AMANPOUR: 40 years later, we spoke to Theodor Meron, a Holocaust survivor who became one of the world's most respected authorities on international law. He stands by his Top-Secret memos to the Israeli leaders.

MERON: You can justify a lot of things on grounds of security. But you cannot settle your population in occupied territories.

AMANPOUR: No doubt in your mind?

MERON: No doubt.

AMANPOUR: No wiggle room in the law.

MERON: Not really.

AMANPOUR: Certainly when somebody can present you the Torah or the Bible and say look, this is our land. Then any manmade law is in confrontation with God's law.

MERON: I cannot argue with the word of God. Any lawyer can only discuss things from the secular perspective. In other words, I do not believe that the religion can resolve these disputes.


AMANPOUR: And since that report, the number of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank now stands at over 270 while the settler population has grown from around half a million to 700,000. And that is including east Jerusalem and is reported by the United Nations.

Now, when we come back, more of your questions and my answers. "Ask Amanpour" next.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back.

And finally let's find out what is on your mind this week.

Here is a question from Dawn in Pennsylvania.


DAWN, VIEWER FROM PENNSYLVANIA: My name is Dawn (INAUDIBLE). And my question is, why is Ukraine on the back burner? Europe, as we know it, may not exist and Putin is dancing on tables. When will Ukraine get back in the news? They are being slaughtered every day.

Thanks so much.


AMANPOUR: Well, Dawn, you are right and it is hugely concerning for Ukrainians and for the West. After all the United States and NATO have declared this to be the frontline in the fight to protect democracy.


AMANPOUR: As Putin waits to see whether the U.S. election will turn in his favor and cut off aid altogether, the Biden administration wants Congress to approve more ammunition and anti-air missiles quickly.

And journalists, as you saw Fred Pleitgen, are still reporting that story despite competition from other world crises. But we've got to keep the spotlight on.

That is all we have time for. If you want to ask me a question, scan the QR code on the screen or email And remember to tell us your name and where you are from.

Don't forget, you can find all our shows online as podcasts at and on all other major platforms. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Thank you for watching and I'll see

you again next week.