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Red Cross Convoy Arrives In Israel With Freed Hostages; Mark Regev, Senior Adviser To Israeli PM Netanyahu, Discusses Talks Underway To Extend Truce, Hamas Claiming Young Hostage & Family No Longer Alive; Congress Tries To Thread Needle On Israel-Ukraine Aid Package; Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY) Discusses Isarel-Ukraine Aid Package; Virgin Atlantic Flight First To Use 100 Percent Sustainable Fuel; Critical Climate Conference Will Be Hostage By Oil Giant. Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired November 29, 2023 - 14:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The women and children are coming out, often they're leaving their spouses and fathers behind.


KEILAR: Some of them coming home to realize that some of their loved ones were killed on October 7th and they were not necessarily aware of that.

So this is a moment of jubilation, but it is a moment of so many mixed emotions for these families in Israel.

SANCHEZ: Absolutely.

Still plenty more news to come. CNN NEWS CENTRAL continues in just a few moments.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We are back monitoring the latest hostage release in Gaza. A Red Cross convoy has just arrived in Israel with more freed hostages.


The current six-day truce between Israel and Hamas is set to expire in just a few hours. Right now, top diplomats are racing against the clock to try to extend that truce agreement and get more hostages out.

We're joined right now by a senior adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mark Regev is joining us.

Mark, thanks so much for joining us.

First, what is your view and the prime minister's view, for that matter, on a possible extension of this temporary truce? Do you see a deal happening in the coming hours? MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN

NETANYAHU: So we don't need to make a new deal, Wolf. All we have to do is extend the existing one for another day, another two days.

According to our numbers, there's something like 25 women and children still on the list. That's the deal, for women and children.

We've said publicly -- it was the decision of our government last week -- that we will extend a day of this humanitarian pause to get the hostages out. We'll extend it out for 10 hostages to be released.

Because, as I said, there are over 20 women and children left in Gaza, they can be released and we can extend this special humanitarian pause. The ball is in Hamas' court.

BLITZER: We heard the foreign ministry spokesman from Qatar say at little while ago, he was pretty optimistic, pretty confident, very hopeful that an extension of the temporary truce will, in fact, go forward. Are you confident this will happen?

REGEV: Confident is a difficult word because we have to remember who we're dealing with. We're dealing with brutal fanatical Hamas terrorist who have no qualms whatsoever about inflicting the most vicious brutality that we know.

We saw what they're capable of. We saw the manipulations they do. We saw their behavior. We see the way they treat their own people. So confident is a strong word, maybe too strong.

We said publicly we're willing for this extension. And all those people who want to see the humanitarian pause continue, they have to put pressure on Hamas. The key to that is releasing more hostages.

You know, President Reagan famously said "trust, but verify." We don't trust. We only verify. Ten hostages are released, we extend the ceasefire. Another 10, we extend again.

BLITZER: We're following also, as you know, Mark, a very, very sensitive situation. Hamas, a little while ago, claiming the youngest hostage, the 10-month-old, the 4-year-old brother and their mother are all dead.

They insist that they died as part of the Israeli airstrikes into Gaza. We know Israel is, quote, "assessing" that Hamas claim. Can you share any updates on this sensitive issue for us?

REGEV: It really is a sensitive issue. Because here we have a family, once again, this 10-month-old was kidnaps when he was 9 months old, his older brother, 4-years-old, and the mother all kidnapped on October 7th.

Hamas, at the time, said their attack was only against military targets. For Hamas, a 9-month-old baby is a legitimate military target.

It shows you exactly who we're dealing with. If I called them brutal fanatics, I don't think I was exaggerating in any way. This is the sign -- this is the clearest demonstration of what we're dealing with.

But they said they're killed. We're trying to verify that. Because in the past, there have been statements by Hamas about people being killed and we saw, in the end, that they were alive and they came home. So we have to check this out.

Of course, we worry. We worry about all the hostages. There are still 159 hostages held by the terrorists in Gaza and we worry about each and every one.

That's why we're willing to make the extra effort and extend the special pause to get the hostages out to try to save these people. It's an integral part of our war aims, get the hostages home.

BLITZER: Let's hope they all come home and come home very, very soon.

Mark Regev, thanks so much for joining us.

REGEV: My pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: And we'll have -- thank you.


And we'll have much more news right after this.


KEILAR: In Washington, right now, there's a stare down over critical aid for Israel and Ukraine. Moments ago, the top two Republicans in Congress meeting to hash out a way forward.

House Speaker Mike Johnson sitting down with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. They discussed a key GOP priority, which is linking that military aid to tighter immigration laws.

On the other side, Democrats are divided over placing conditions on any assistance to Israel.

We're joined now by Republican Congressman Nick LaLota of New York.

Congressman, thank you for being with us this afternoon.

The White House, of course, is demanding $61 billion for Ukraine. One plan being floated among your conference would be significantly lower, $15 billion to $20 billion.

Do you worry that's not enough to support U.S. national security interests?

REP. NICK LALOTA (R-NY)l Listen, the reason that public support for Ukraine funding has plummeted is the president, the commander-in-chief has not issued a war plan whatsoever. The secretary of defense has not engaged Congress enough to tell us what a winning war plan is.

Nor have they provided the auditing necessary to make sure hard-earned American tax dollars are going to the right places to defeat an adversary.


So, right now, public support is at a low because the White House, the executive branch hasn't done what it should to support Congress getting to yes on sending more aid over.

KEILAR: What about the nine audits that have been done since the war started by DOD, by the I.G.? And that's not to mention the 10 mostly classified advisories on how this is being managed?

What are you talking about that --


KEILAR: -- you want besides that?

LALOTA: It's not the quantity. It's the quality. Nine sounds like a nice number to many of our viewers here, but the quality on those has been substandard.

Still, too many dollars, millions, if not billions of dollars, are going into the wrong hands. We need more accountability on those dollars if we'll have true public support for more Ukraine funding.

KEILAR: You have the I.G. coming before you in February. You had the DOD and -- the DOD I.G. with State and USAID giving you regular updates more than monthly.

You had Lloyd Austin before the House Armed Services Committee in March, Blinken and Austin before the Senate in October.

What more kind of oversight do you want that is -- what's more quality --


KEILAR: What is more quality than that, having those opportunities to get your questions answered before those people who obviously are in charge of aid that's going to Ukraine?

LALOTA: Yes, I'm an 11-year Navy veteran. I sit on the Armed Services Committee. I've been in a lot of those rooms. I've asked questions a lot of those questions. And my and my constituents' concerns have not yet been assuaged.

There's no surprise why a number of Armed Services Committee members who would typically lean into helping an ally defeat a common enemy have the same questions that I do.

It's because this administration has been negligent in providing Congress real answers, reliable answers, and data showing that the dollars that Americans are sending overseas are going to the right purpose.

The administration absolutely needs to do a better job, not in the quantity, not in more briefings or more reports, but in the quality to ensure that when we send money to Ukraine, which has a history of internal corruption, that it's going to the right places.

KEILAR: Do you have the same concerns about the aid to Israel?

LALOTA: No, I don't. Those two countries, the histories are much different. Our allegiance is much stronger with Israel. Israel is America's strongest ally and America is Israel's strongest ally.


KEILAR: But about how Israel -- the way forward, that's a concern you have with Ukraine.

Do you have concerns about who is going to govern Gaza once Hamas is gone? Is Israel creating more terrorists than it is eliminating with the way it's executing this with so many civilians killed?

Do you feel like your questions about that are being answered?

LALOTA: I have much more confidence in the Israeli Defense Forces' prosecution of a common enemy in Hamas than I have right now in Ukraine.

While I have reservations with one, I have far less reservations with the other.

That's because, one, my confidence in Israel. But, two, it's clear that Hamas is a great common enemy to the United States. It chants death to the America and while, at the same time, wants to wipe Israel off of the map.

I recognize what that means to Americans and American safely. That's why we should act swiftly, clearly and unequivocally with respect to our support for Israel.

KEILAR: Sir, thank you so much for taking the time. Congressman Nick LaLota, we appreciate it.


And we are back after a quick break.




UNIDENTIFIED VIRGIN ATLANTIC PILOT: Virgin 100 (ph), thanks for your well wishes. Both engines running on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel. We're ready to go.

(END AUDIO FEED) SANCHEZ: That was the sound of a Virgin Airlines Boeing 787 taking off from London to New York, becoming the first commercial airplane to cross the Atlantic using 100 percent sustainable fuel.

Joining us to discuss now is CNN chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir.

Bill, is this an actual promising step or is this just a gimmick?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a little bit of a one-off, but the Wright brothers had to start somewhere, right? And for the first time in a very long time, humanity is not just thinking about how fast we can fly but how sustainable.

This is a plane basically running on fryer grease. It's tallow, fat from restaurant waste and other sources.

It is the first of several tests we saw in recent weeks of aviation proving this could be done. Right now, there's a rule against you can't have more than 50 percent of the sustainable stuff in the mix as systems go over.

But this is their plan, aviation's plan to get greener over time. It's a drop in the bucket right now.

But Richard Branson, who is a showman and an aviator from way back, knows the power of these moments to inspire people.

And there are all kinds of other ideas cooking in this space. New York just announced they're going to have electric helicopters running from downtown out to the airport. So our flying cars are almost here -- Boris?

SANCHEZ: And we should note, Sir Richard Branson was actually on that greasy flight, if you want to call it that.


SANCHEZ: Bill, tomorrow, the COP28 climate summit is set to take place in Dubai. We're learning Vice President Harris is scheduled to attend in lieu of President Biden. Is there anything to take from her attending instead of the president himself?


WEIR: Well, there's a lot of - some disappointment from climate activists, younger voters who see the president in the White House saying he's got other things, there's a lot going on in the world these days.

But if you look at the top three emitters of carbon pollution, heat trapping gases, it's China, the United States and Russia. None of the three leaders from those countries will be there. Nearly 200 other world leaders will be there.

But the big cloud right now is who's hosting this. The CEO of Abu Dhabi's National Oil Company is also hosting COP, which one diplomate said is like putting the CEO of a tobacco company in charge of a global conference on cancer cures.

And there were recent leaks, memos, internal documents that a British investigative journalist turned up that seemed to indicate that the sultan -- this is the man we're talking about right now.

Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber was going to try to use these opportunities, these meetings to try to sell Abu Dhabi oil and gas, to try to expand their future fossil fuel plans, which is a blatant conflict of interest when the world needs to come together around burning a lot less oil very fast.

And trust. So many of the vulnerable countries that depend on this conference for their very salvation and their existence hope that that sort of trust can be re-won.

The sultan denies these reports. He says they are completely erroneous, he has no intention of doing business dealings in the backrooms right now.

But we'll see. Actions these days go a lot farther than words.

SANCHEZ: Yes. At the very least, an unwanted distraction at the conference.

Bill Weir, thank you so much for the reporting.

Stay with CNN. We'll be right back.