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Israel-Hamas War; Sixth Group of Hostages Scheduled for Release Today; Present Truce Coming to an End Today, Negotiations to Prolong it Now Under Progress; Vatican: Pope Francis Heeds Health Recommendations and Cancels Trip to Dubai; Remembering Rosalynn Carter; Today, President Jimmy Carter Will Attend His Wife's Burial Ceremony; Interview with "Exploring the White House", "First Women", and "First in Line" Author Kate Andersen Brower. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 29, 2023 - 10:30   ET




SARA SIDNER, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: This morning, we're learning a U.S. hostage envoy is in Israel as we wait to learn if any Americans will be among the sixth group of hostages set to be released by Hamas. We do know 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, his brother Ariel and their parents are not on the list for today. That's according to their relatives who continue to wait, hoping for their safe return.

CNN's Katie Bo Lillis is following all the developments in this story. Katie Bo, is there any indication we could see American hostages being freed? I think that the list has come out, has it not?

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN INTELLIGENCE REPORTER: Sara, the short answer at this point is that we are still waiting to see whether or not there will be any Americans included on the list of hostages expected to be released today. Still, nine Americans held in Hamas custody that we know of, seven men and two women. The two women, of course, were expected to be released during the original -- as part of the original tranche of 50 hostages released during the first four days of the truce. That obviously didn't happen. Huge disappointment for the Biden administration.

But a senior White House official and National Security Council spokesman John Kirby saying yesterday that the White House doesn't believe that Hamas is intentionally withholding Americans from release as some kind of tactic or leverage, but that it's more likely the, sort of, logistical difficulty of getting a small number of Americans out of Gaza that is to blame here. And so, high, high hopes today inside the White House that more Americans may be released, either as part of the release today or if the United States is successful in working with the Qatari mediators and the Israelis to broker some kind of extension in this pause in fighting, perhaps over the coming days.

But again, at this point, we still wait to see. A senior Qatari official who spoke to our Kaitlan Collins this morning declined to detail whether or not Americans would be included on today's list.


SIDNER: OK. And we do know that there are two women, and women and children have been the first to be released for the most part that are members of those 10 Americans being held. Katie Bo Lillis, thank you so much for your reporting this morning.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: And joining us now is CNN Global Affairs analyst Kim Dozier. It's good to see you, Kim. The Qatari foreign ministry, just this morning, said that they're hopeful that they're going to be able to announce a truce extension in just the coming couple of hours, is how they put it. But moving beyond the current parameters, of the current agreement between Israel and Hamas, really becomes a big question. How do they do that? How do they move past, you know, past only women and children being released and into civilian men and military personnel?

KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST AND SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR, THE MILITARY TIMES: Well, at this point, according to Israel's prime minister spokesman, they have about 35 women left, at least four children under the age of 14, and then just under a dozen hostages who are over the age of 75. So, all of those are possibly covered under the current agreement.

But the question is, once you get to what Hamas considers members of the Israeli Defense Forces, whether or not they were captured in uniform, they consider men of military age who are Israelis to be potential combatants. And the fear among U.S. officials, Israeli officials, Qataris is that Hamas will raise the price for releasing those. And that is when Israel, which is -- the current government is essentially looking for a reason to get back into its fight to defeat Hamas. That's when Israel would likely start fighting again and insist on negotiating under fire as it did for this first round of releases.

BOLDUAN: Because Israel, they believe that the pressure of the fighting and the bombardment is what got Hamas to the place of going to agree to this kind of first round of a fragile truce. Let me play for you, Kim, what the spokesman for the Qatari foreign ministry told -- said this morning, told Kaitlan Collins about what they're looking at in terms of the negotiation that goes beyond women and children. Listen how he talks about it. Listen to this.


DR. MAJED AL-ANSARI, QATARI SPOKESMAN FOR MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: We are moving towards civilian men being released and then having the longer discussions over the soldiers. I think there is also a parallel line of discussion over thinking how we can reach a sustainable truce to have longer discussions over the release of all hostages.


BOLDUAN: It was the first time that I've heard someone talk about parallel tracks and how these discussions are going. I wonder what you hear in that. DOZIER: It's something -- it's the discussion that has to be had, especially since Hamas is fading -- facing internal pressure from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, much more extremist terrorist group inside Gaza that has said it won't release the soldiers that it has among the 40 or so hostages it's thought to have unless all Palestinian prisoners are also released from Israeli jails, and that's something like 8,000 people, 9,000 people.

So, Hamas knows this is coming. There's another issue that might encourage Hamas, at least, to release some of the male hostages. It takes a lot of resources, manpower, supplies to keep hostages healthy, alive, undetected by the Israelis, so they may want to reduce their numbers. That might help get us to a few dozen hostages being held before fighting restarts. But there's pressure on the Israeli government because far right members of Netanyahu's cabinet have threatened to pull out if the fighting doesn't restart soon.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, I wanted to hear what you're reporting is kind of leading to in terms of the U.S. has been pushing Israel to take a more targeted approach if and -- well, when it restarts its military operations. What does a different approach really look like when you're talking about Southern Gaza?

DOZIER: So, one approach would be to go with more targeted raids, special operations raids, and just go after specific high value members of Hamas. But that puts a lot of Israeli forces in harm's way, and the casualties have already been, I think it's reached at least a hundred or nearing that. It's much more likely we're going to see perhaps, smaller movements, but you're still going to see Israelis moving around in tanks. I think you're still going to see airstrikes, but perhaps, smaller bombs, not the 2,000-pound ones, to prosecute -- to go after Hamas without causing as much displacement and damage to Southern Gaza.


BOLDUAN: Yes, so much. And especially when Israel was telling civilians in Gaza to move to Southern Gaza, very uncertain days ahead. Kim, thank you.


SIDNER: Coming up, the pope cancelling more plans after doctors are urging him not to travel abroad. We'll bring you the very latest on his health from Rome.

Plus, CNN has learned that Former President Jimmy Carter will attend his wife's private funeral service today at their family church in Plains, Georgia. Remember, he has been in hospice for more than nine months now. We will take you there live.



SIDNER: This morning, we're learning that Pope Francis is cancelling an upcoming trip to Dubai at the advice of his doctor. The Vatican released a statement saying the Pope's flu and respiratory health has improved some but not enough for doctors to allow a visit to the COP28 Climate Summit.

CNN's Barbie Nadeau is following all of the developments, now. What do you know about the status of his condition at this point?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, we do know that he's a little bit better. That cancellation of this very important meeting, the climate crisis is such an important issue for him in the last 10 years since he was elected to be Pope.

But he did attend his Wednesday audience. This is an audience he gives every single Wednesday in person. And he attended it this morning here in Rome, inside an auditorium. And he arrived on foot, which is actually rare. He usually comes in on a wheelchair. So, there was a little bit of defiance. But he was very, very weak. He wasn't able to actually deliver his prepared remarks because he said his voice was too weak from the flu that he's fighting.

He isn't a man in good health. He's been in the hospital three times in the last two years, the latest was in June for an abdominal surgery, you know. So, we're talking about multiple different types of health issues. And you think about a man that age, 87 next month, of course people are worried about him. And I think this is especially important right now coming up to the busy, busy Christmas holiday schedule that he's got in front of him, that he's going in and not such good health, Sara.

SIDNER: Yes, when you're going to be 87 years old, every little thing adds up, making it really difficult. Our best goes to, of course, the Pope. And thank you to you, Barbie, for all the details that you always bring us there from Rome.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, who will be among the hostages released today? We know Israeli officials have informed the families and we are standing by to see that transfer when they get out of Hamas captivity and feel their first moments of freedom in seven weeks. We'll be right back.



SIDNER: Just hours ago, CNN learned Former President Jimmy Carter will be attending his wife's private funeral service today. Remember that he has been in hospice himself for a very long time, but he has managed to make it to her funeral. We're looking at a live look inside their family church in Plains, Georgia where the service is set to begin in just mere minutes.

Former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter, passed away on November 19th at the age of 96, just days after joining her husband in hospice care. Yesterday's memorial service in Atlanta drew every living First Lady and hundreds of other people mourning her loss and her incredible humanitarian legacy.

Joining us now is Kate Andersen Brower who has written several books about the White House, including one on the role of first ladies. Can you tell us -- just give us some sense of who Rosalynn is? How she transformed what it meant to be a first lady?

KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, AUTHOR, "EXPLORING THE WHITE HOUSE", AUTHOR, "FIRST WOMEN", AND AUTHOR, "FIRST IN LINE": Well, she cared so deeply about helping people. She was very compassionate and empathetic. I think that came from her childhood with -- where she grew up with very little money. She had to raise her siblings, basically, after her father died when she was 12. I think there's one story about Rosalynn that really sums up her life's work because, you know, she -- yesterday, Kathy Cade at the funeral said she gave voice to the powerless and persuaded the powerful to listen.

And she did that when the Carters hired a woman named Mary Prince, who had been a black woman, who had been unfairly convicted of murder in Georgia in 1970. And they saw that this was unfair and they brought Mary to be their daughter Amy's nanny in the White House. And they had the conviction overturned. Jimmy Carter was Mary's parole officer. I mean, they were not afraid to speak up for people who they felt were voiceless because of, you know, racism, because of poverty, whatever it was. They spoke out in support of them.

SIDNER: Indeed. And that was such a big and interesting case that they were heavily involved in getting her out because she was wrongfully convicted.

I did want to just mention, we were watching just there, the motorcade that is rolling up to the church as you see her casket, Rosalynn's casket under guard there from the state police. Their daughter also read a letter that Jimmy wrote 75 years ago. I mean, this is really a true and deep love story between these two people, Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn.

She had such an impact on Carter's presidency, but also on his post presidency, which has been one of the most remarkable post presidencies, I think, we have ever seen in American history. Can you give us some sense of how their relationship helped shape his time in office and afterwards?

BROWER: She was by his side during all of the most pivotal moments of his presidency, including Camp David. It was her idea to actually bring the president of Israel and the president of Egypt to Camp David for the historic peace accords there. She also campaigned tirelessly for him. But to your point, in the decades after they left the White House, what they did with the Carter Center is unprecedented. And, you know, they've nearly eradicated guinea worm disease, which used to kill many people in Africa.

And she teared up. I interviewed her a couple of times, and when I asked her what one of her greatest accomplishments was, she said was making sure that children didn't have to die from that horrible disease anymore. [10:55:00]

So, they lived -- you know, they practiced what they preached. And you see here in the church this was their heart, their home. People in that community would lay down their lives for the Carters. And, you know, the Carter's home is just a regular ranch style home. They can see their burial site from their home kitchen, which I think speaks a lot to who they are. They are at peace, I think, with death because of their deep Christian values that we saw play out, you know, especially after they left the White House and what they did was truly phenomenal.

SIDNER: And they were still attending that church up until they couldn't. Kate Andersen Brower, thank you so much for bringing us the stories of Rosalynn Carter. And we are looking at the motorcade as it makes its way very close to the church now. That ceremony will start very, very soon.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, will the truce between Israel and Hamas be extended again? That is a major question at this very hour. What Qatar is saying now and what is leading them to be hopeful. We'll be right back.