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Israel Says No To Cease-Fire Agreement; Gaza Violence Fuels Anti-Semitic Rise in Europe; Exclusive Interview With Mikheil Saakashvili; French President Posits Weather As One Reason Air Algerie Flight Crashed
Aired July 25, 2014 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: And here we go. Top of the hour, I am Brooke Baldwin.
We are closely monitoring the situation in the Mideast and we begin with breaking news that Reuters is reporting that Israel is rejecting a cease-fire proposal, asking for modifications.
I can tell you that the U.S. secretary of state John Kerry in Egypt expected to speak within this hour announcing whether he has been able to help broker a temporary, this is -- will be a one week humanitarian cease-fire Sunday presumably between Israel and Hamas. But again, Reuters is reporting Israel, the cabinet there rejecting a deal as it is in its current state.
We are closely watching the cease-fire talks in Cairo, and will bring you any announcement as soon as it is made here on CNN.
But meantime, let's go to these pictures.
Furious protests erupted overnight in the West Bank, following the shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza where 16 Palestinians were killed. Protesters returned to the streets today in the West Bank in what Palestinian leaders are calling a day of rage.
Now, at this point in time, neither Israel nor Hamas accepts responsibility for explosions at the school. We will talk about that in a moment with Karl Penhaul who is live for us in Gaza city.
But Wolf Blitzer, let me go to you first with the news. Again, Reuters reporting that Israel is saying no to the cease-fire asking for modifications, what more do you know about that?
BLITZER: Well, we just spoke with Israel's intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, I interviewed him about an hour or so ago. And at that time, he told me a cease-fire in his words doesn't seem close, doesn't seem close. Since then, the last few minutes we got this word from Yuval Steinitz, one of the top ministers in Israel's cabinet, in Prime Minister Netanyahu's cabinet. He tells us now that the Israeli cabinet meeting at Tel Aviv at the defense ministry emergency session has just unanimously rejected, rejected the proposal for a cease-fire. That's the cabinet at large of Israel. Meaning the entire cabinet of Israel rejected the proposal put forward by Secretary Kerry, by the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, for the first phase of humanitarian week-long cease-fire, followed by negotiations, lead to go a more permanent truce.
Israel does not like this current proposal. They are opening it up for modifications. They want clarifications. But the proposal that was put forward by Secretary Kerry to the Israeli cabinet has been unanimously rejected by Israel during these emergency meetings in Tel Aviv.
Now, the cabinet is going to resume their meetings, even though it is start of the Jewish Sabbath in this part of the world, it is already sundown. But they're getting ready to meet again. They want clarification, they want modifications, but the proposal that was put forward has been unanimously rejected. That word we are getting from one of the Israel cabinet ministers, Yuval Steinitz, the minister of intelligence who earlier told us a cease-fire doesn't seem close, now it doesn't seem close at all -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Wolf, I have a follow-up for you. But first, let me just go pivot to Gaza City.
Karl to you. As you have been reporting on these protests and also, of course, on the deaths at shelters. I know investigators for the school again today, tell me more about what you know there.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is incidents like that really that is going to make this kind of cease-fire really a hard sell. You would think that an incident like that school incident would be enough to knock the heads of the sides together and say enough is enough, civilians are paying too high a price.
But on one hand, Hamas is feeling embolden by the way that it has fought, by the way that is taken the fight to Israeli troops in the time that this ground invasion has been going on. And so, Hamas is kind of asking itself as well I would guess what is in a cease-fire for us. Yes, possibly a lull in-fighting for now so that it could reposition his troops, ready to carry on the urban guerrilla warfare against Israeli troops. But otherwise, it is very difficult to see how they would agree to cease that fire right now when they believe they're having a pretty good campaign against the Israelis.
Now, of course as well the investigation is going on about what did happen yesterday at the United Nations school, and not very good news on that front either. U.N. investigators went to the school today to try to get in to carry out a preliminary look over the scene of the incident. And there was heavy fighting going on in that area. And the U.N. investigators had to pull back. They got nothing done. That is going to be one of the problems.
This school is in the combat zone. Nobody has custody of the scene of the crime now. It's very difficult to see how they can investigate. But of course, Israeli military is still investigating for its part. They do say that yesterday there was fierce combat with Hamas militants there. That they did fire at them in an area around the school, but they're stopping short of claiming responsibility for that attack. So far, they do say that perhaps it was a misfire from a Hamas rocket.
Hamas severely denying that and said, when we went to the scene, saw no rocket debris there. But it is certainly an incident that has to be investigated. It can't just disappear in the balked of war, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Wolf, just calling off of a view, as you were reporting, that the Israeli cabinet unanimously rejected the cease-fire proposal, this humanitarian one-week long proposal. There always, of course, are starting points in any agreement. We know there have to be multiple iterations of any kind of proposal. You were there in 2012. How many proposals, how long might this take to agree?
BLITZER: Right. Last week the Israelis immediately agreed to the Egyptian proposal, Hamas rejected that initial Egyptian proposal. This one has modifications, has conditions attached to it that Hamas apparently is more inclined to like because of Qatar's role. The Israelis don't trust Qatar at all because of a close relationship with Hamas. They don't like this they say because they see this proposal that was put forward to them as sort of rewarding Hamas for launching 2000 rockets or so into Israel. They're not happy with this. They're making a statement they reject it for now. They are leaving open the possibility if there are modifications in the next few hours, they may reconsider. But right now, Israel rejected unanimously the latest proposal.
It is a major setback for secretary of state John Kerry. He is getting ready to make some sort of statement in Cairo, I think I was ready to fly out of Cairo, probably back to either Paris or the United States. But this represents a significant setback in his efforts. He was here in Israel. He went to meet to Ramala to meet with the Palestinian authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas. He has been meeting with the Egyptians, meeting with others trying to get some momentum for a cease-fire.
This current effort, at least for now, could be revived down the road, maybe in hours, maybe in days. But the current effort clearly has failed with Israel's cabinet decision to reject the proposal.
BALDWIN: We will be standing by to watch for U.S. secretary of state John Kerry in Cairo as you point out, working on the negotiations. And absolutely this has been a setback for him in this cease-fire deal.
Karl Penhaul, Wolf Blitzer, thank you both very much.
And escalating violence between Israel and Hamas, Gaza, has certainly fueled a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in Europe. In recent days, France, which has the third largest Jewish population in the world appears to have seen the worst anti-Semitism.
CNN's Isa Soares looks at the dangerous wave of anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South sail in the suburbs of Paris, bears the scars of violence directed at the largely Jewish community here. Last week, it became the flashpoint for anger against Israel. The local synagogue targeted and shops burned and looted.
This French-born Jewish shopper, now refused to show his face on camera, the fear of reprisal against his family. I am very worried. My little brothers can't go out alone anymore, he tells me. They don't go out alone even to buy a beget. We always accompany them.
I asked him whether he has seen many Jews leaving France because of the violence.
My aunt returned to Israel this summer, he says. And she made the right decision, because only a few days later, the violence erupted. It makes us think we should also leave, and I think that's what's going to happen.
Migrations from France to Israel are at levels not seen since 1948, since the founding of Israel. And what the (INAUDIBLE) head of the Jewish community in Paris says there's good reason. A 40 percent increase in violence against the Jewish community in the first part of the year.
ROBERT EJNES, REPRESENTATIVE COUNCIL, JEWISH INSTITUTIONS OF FRANCE: What we've seen in the past two weeks is something we've never lived through, basically the demonstrations, which were the demonstration for the Palestine people that ignited the violence against the Jews. But on the side of the demonstration, we have seen a new mob which decided to attack the Jews on the idea that we are defended for the Palestinian people against the government of Israel.
SOARES: It is a new development with anti-Israel protests turning against Jews in general.
The rising tide of hostility toward Jews is being felt not just here in France but right across Europe. There are fears that this new form of anti-Semitism as the French government are calling it is being fueled by growing economic inequality. But the growing strength of Europe's far right nationalist parties, and a sense of alienation among Europe's Muslim population.
It's certainly not just France. This week, a friendly football game in Austria turned nasty when pro-Palestinian demonstrators stormed the (INAUDIBLE) attacked visiting Israeli players.
In Belgium, a shocking display. This sign in the window of a cafe reads in Turkish, entrance allowed for dogs but forbidden for Jews.
Hatred has also spread in Latin America. Israeli flags burned in Chile, and Jewish families there also attacked with rocks. Though Paris may be more than 2,000 miles from Gaza, for the Jews here, a sense the conflict has been brought right to their doorstep.
Isa Soares, CNN, Paris.
BALDWIN: And again, just a reminder, we are watching and waiting for U.S. secretary of state John Kerry. He has been in Egypt. There have been negotiations, of course, involving Hamas and Gaza. Live pictures here. Hamas and Gaza, involving Israel, is meeting with the Egypt's foreign minister, meeting with the general to the U.N. Ban Ki-Moon, trying to establish this one week humanitarian cease-fire deal that would have started Sunday. I say would have because as we are reporting, the Israeli cabinet has unanimously rejected this deal. They want modifications. We will be watching for secretary Kerry moments from now coming up.
Also ahead, it has been just over a week since Malaysian flight 17 was shot down. But breaking today, word that Russia could be sending rocket launchers into Ukraine to those pro-Russian rebels, and it could happen as early as today.
Plus, just ahead, my next guest says Vladimir Putin wanted him dead or in a cage. He is the former president of Georgia. He went to war with Russia. Mikheil Saakashvili joins me live on his advice to get Putin to listen.
You're watching CNN special coverage. Stay with me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Now, I just want to ask about Putin the man, he is kind of a mystery to a lot of people, Mr. President. And you famously said that Vladimir Putin wanted you caged or killed.
MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, FORMER GEORGIAN PRESIDENT: He wanted to hang me by certain balls.
BALDWIN: I wasn't going to go there, but you can go there.
SAAKASHVILI: I said it, but he said it many times publicly. But the reality is he likes to intimidate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That was some pretty frank talk from my conversation earlier this week with the former president of the republic of Georgia, and he would know. He went toe to toe with Vladimir Putin back in 2008. Georgia felt Putin's wrath as it became friendlier to the west, pro- Russian rebels fought with Georgian troops. And at one point, Putin even sent troops in to eastern Georgia. And if it sounds familiar, it is because it is. Because it could be the play book for what's happening right now in Ukraine. We will dig deeper into that in a moment.
But first, here's the news today, the U.S. is raising the alarm. The Pentagon says Russia is getting ready to transfer more powerful rocket launchers into the hands of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. And according to the U.S. Intel, it could happen as early as today. Europe's leaders are meeting again today in Belgium. The U.S. and
others want them to impose tougher sanctions on Russia, but Western Europe is in a tough spot because it relies heavily on Russian gas to meet its energy needs. And for now, the Europeans are just targeting some of the rich and powerful in Russia by freezing the amount of dealings with the west.
So, how to deal with Vladimir Putin? How does the world get him to listen?
Let's bring in the former Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, senior statesman at the Tuffs University's Fletcher school of law and diplomacy.
Mr. President, welcome back.
SAAKASHVILI: Thank you. I mean, I would like to reply to this slip of the tongue I had inadvertently last time at your show. Actually, I still feel much better that most of Vladimir Putin's alleged real or perspective victims as I sit in New York and studio talking to you.
But unfortunately, that's not the case with many other people that right now as we speak have been dying for the last several hours in the Ukraine. And I had conversation, I was in Washington talking to lawmakers, to stop key senators, and then sat down with senior level team of state department with this issue. And again, they spoke to me now and told me that it is getting heavier with every hour, the shelling and number of total victims.
BALDWIN: On that issue, you mention Washington, this is out of the Pentagon today. Of course, we know not even a week ago, 298 people were basically shot out of the sky. And now, we get news from the Pentagon, from intelligence that Russia is bringing in more rocket launchers to Ukraine. What is Vladimir Putin doing?
SAAKASHVILI: Well, we should -- first of all, he is out to undermine the post cold war world order, but that's not the issue. The main thing what he is doing in Ukraine is continuation of what he has been doing for all these years in all different places.
On Ukraine, he has first, he sent in some small amount of troops and stir up trouble. But then Ukraine sent in more troops. So he had to counter that. He wants Ukraine's military defeated. He wants to kill Ukraine's economy. He wants people to turn against their government. He cannot allow Ukraine to succeed.
So once Ukraine brought in artillery, he brought in artillery. Once Ukraine started to pound these people, the Russian special troops and their local rebels from the air, they brought in anti-air equipment.
So actually, he has been all the time following the taking the lead in order not to allow Ukrainians to succeed. But that's nothing new. It is -- you rightly said it is like from blueprint from what he has been doing in the past. Even more, I mean, people of these days have been saying also, remember, all those tragedies for shut down planes. But they never mentioned that in the '90s. Russia -- the Russian rebels, pro-Russian rebels and Russia special troops shot down two civilian planes in Georgia at the airport of (INAUDIBLE). One of them by doing a full of refugee women and children, they are trying to leave the place and actually a half million did leave the place. This one didn't succeed. But it took people ten years find (INAUDIBLE). So they're aware other tragedies, simply they got away with that.
BALDWIN: The obvious question which we already tried to address earlier in the week, you give examples, is how to stop him. So we have already discussed stricter sanctions, we talked money throughout Europe. But really, I wonder today since you've gone toe to toe with him, is his ego. I mean, people have already brought up the fact the world cup, you know, set in some years in Russia. If the world cup were it worth to be pulled out, do you think that would make him listen?
SAAKASHVILI: Yes. There are many things that can be done. He and especially the elite around him are very, very vulnerable to Russian pressure. Look. He wants to rule and attack like Stalin, but wants to live like American billionaire or some other Arab (INAUDIBLE). So he has this natural longing towards capitalist which Muslim, throughout regime, leaders don't have. Now, Russia might become a rogue country and a rogue regime, but they still have this tremendous intoxication and in infatuation with western culture and the western way of life. So yes, indeed, there are lots of leverage.
But you know --
BALDWIN: Give me examples, sir. Can you give me examples of leverage, not talking money. If he is, you know, living like a billionaire, he certainly is. And a lot of people in Russia, especially even the Netherlands, I mean, 200 people died on the plane from the Netherlands, and they're reluctant to flat, to be part of slapping additional sanctions on Russia. So, let's just put money to the side. What else could it be?
SAAKASHVILI: Well, look. First of all, there should be reaction to concrete actions. You know, he got away with occupation -- I mean, almost nobody mentions to their (INAUDIBLE) that 20 percent of Georgia is still occupied. And this, by the way, the Russian leading Georgian government, basically yesterday said we cannot support Ukraine by the way now, because we have back to good relations with Russia. The problem is that, you know, he managed to a lot of make the world forget that occupies other conditions sovereign territory.
Now, then he occupied Crimea. Again, nothing was done. And people don't talk anymore about Crimea. So, if there had been proper sanctions about Crimea, that would have been a difference.
BALDWIN: And I talked to so many different journalists that covered Ukraine even before --
SAAKASHVILI: You did, it is not about that. But no reelection was taken.
BALDWIN: No. I understand, and it seems to get worse and worse. That's why I am asking. SAAKASHVILI: People are telling them give us access to crash site.
And obviously, this paraphrase that is happening there is outrageous.
SAAKASHVILI: Yes. And so people now are focused on the plane, but the situation in eastern Ukraine kind of, you know, gets reaction, but kind of -- he has been moving to new things. But he also has very clear program. I had many, many meetings with him. And he always told me several things. He told me that he would invade Georgia, because he told me would make a northern (INAUDIBLE). He did actually. He always told me Ukraine is not a real country, and by the way once when we were in Crimea, he mentioned that Crimea is Russian land implying that it is just temporary in Ukraine.
BALDWIN: He called it Russian land.
SAAKASHVILI: Yes. He said it is a beautiful Russian land. And remember this and this is a temporary situation.
BALDWIN: Does he believe that or was he trying to irk you?
SAAKASHVILI: I think he believes it that he has to take revenge for what he regards as United States defeating soviet union and Russia in cold war. And then he always said he would undermine NATO, destroy NATO. The surest way is to continue aggressive actions toward Baltic countries.
So he has been lying all the way through. But he has never been lying about his main goals. He has been indicating those goals, saying that this very clearly to his people, and also to the westerners and neighbors like to myself, but then of course he has been like this way through corruption, through former or existing European leaders. So Europe can't -- by the way, it looks like Europe finally, you know, will do something. And that would be a big break through.
BLITZER: I hope to have that conversation with you next time, Mr. President.
SAAKASHVILI: Eventually, he will break his neck. But we need the world to suffer, people not to suffer such losses as it is suffering now.
BALDWIN: Absolutely agree.
Mikheil Saakashvili, thank you so much.
SAAKASHVILI: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Come back as always. You are a wealth of information, having met this man multiple times and kind of war with him. Thank you so much.
Coming up next, CNN takes you to the crash site of flight 17 where pieces of the wreckage are in tree tops, and bodies still being discovered. Plus, we told you about reports of looting at the site. And now, we
are getting word that credit cards and passports are now suddenly appearing at the wreckage site. What's that about? That's next.
BALDWIN: You are watching CNN. I am Brooke Baldwin.
Let's talk about the investigation now into the Air Algerie flight. It has crash in the conflict zone in northern Mali where at least 116 people were on board. Take a look at what we are finally seeing today. This is what the French forces saw when they arrived in the crash site Thursday. A plane, according to the French disintegrated. No survivors.
France's foreign minister says 54 French nationals were on board flight 5017. That's the largest group from any one nation.
Also a short time ago, French president Francois Holland says he shares the pain of the families and there are more families today dealing with the same emotions.
This is the third major aviation disaster this week. Some families around the world lost loved ones on a flight that crashed Wednesday off the coast of Taiwan, 48 people were killed there. And just eight days ago, Malaysia air flight 17 shot down over eastern Ukraine, 298 lives lost.
Al Goodman, let me bring you in from Madrid on this most recent crash. We know that a black box has been recovered. Are they closer to finding out why it went down?
AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID BUREAU CHIEF: Hi, Brooke. They're really just starting. But there are some key differences from what we seeing, for instance, with the Malaysia plane that was shot over the Ukraine. That was a very broad field of debris and the bodies over a very broad area according to authorities there.
Here in this desert area of Mali, the French troops are stationed in that conflict zone, moved in, secured the site. And the French president said this day in Paris, that's a very compact site. So there are some key differences. But they haven't ruled out anything according to French president. Although, he does say that weather is the key option as what caused this crash. Authorities have said since Thursday that the pilot, very shortly in to this overnight flight radioed in and said he was going to have to change course because of severe weather.