Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter Passes At The Age Of 96; IDF Released New Video Of Tunnel Beneath Al-Shifa Hospital; White House Close To A Deal With Hostage Release And A Pause In The War; CNN Goes Inside Al-Shifa Hospital With Israeli Military; Israel-Hamas War Continues; Biden Pays Tribute To Rosalynn Carter. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 19, 2023 - 17:00   ET




PAULA REID, CNN HOST: You're in the "CNN Newsroom," I'm Paula Reed in Washington. We're continuing to follow the sad breaking news. Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has passed away peacefully in her home this afternoon at the age of 96. She is being remembered as a mental health champion and a tireless humanitarian. Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia praising the proud Georgian, saying she had an indelible impact on our state and nation.

Former President George W. Bush calling Carter a woman of dignity and strength. And First Lady Jill Biden noting Carter's commitment to mental health.


JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has just passed. And She was well known for her efforts on mental health and caregiving and women's rights. So, I hope that during the holidays you'll consider saying -- include the Carter family in your prayers.


REID: CNN's Wolf Blitzer takes a look back on her remarkable life and legacy.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): A soft-spoken small-town girl. Rosalynn Smith Carter became one of America's most charming first ladies. Born in Plains, Georgia on August 18th, 1927, she was valedictorian of her high school class and met and married Jimmy Carter when he was in the U.S. Navy.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My love and respect and cherish and honor, my wife Rosalynn.

BLITZER (voice-over): When Mr. Carter's father died in 1953, they moved back to Plains to manage the family's peanut farm. ROSALYNN CARTER, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I

didn't want to go home. I was having a good time. I think I thought I had outgrown Plains, George. I had gotten a little too big for my britches. I only patted for about a year after we got home.

BLITZER (voice-over): They had four children. three boys, Jack, Chip, and Jeff, and later daughter Amy. In 1962, Jimmy Carter entered politics and Rosalynn hit the campaign trail.

R. CARTER: Campaigning was fun up to a certain point because I got to travel and see the whole country. The most fun are the people you meet.

BLITZER (voice-over): She supported her husband's successful bids to become governor of Georgia and later president of the United States.

UNKNOWN: So, help you, God.

BLITZER (voice-over): Mrs. Carter was actively involved in her husband's presidency, attending Camp David meetings and cabinet briefings. She was a strong advocate for equal treatment of the mentally ill.

R. CARTER: If they had coverage for their mental illness, then the overall health care costs would come down.

BLITZER (voice-over): When the Carters left the White House in 1981, they spearheaded a new challenge, Habitat for Humanity, Building Houses for the Poor.

R. CARTER: The whole community has come together to get rid of poverty.

BLITZER (voice-over): A year later, they established the Carter Center, a foundation devoted to promoting human rights, resolving conflicts, and eradicating diseases. Mrs. Carter continued to focus on reducing the stigma of mental illness.

R. CARTER: I'm really, really proud. I'm very impressed with what you can do.

BLITZER (voice-over): Another focus, caregiving, an issue close to her heart, as she told the Congressional Committee.

R. CARTER: It's been part of my life since I was 12 years old. And my father was diagnosed with leukemia at age 44. We lived in a very small town and all the neighbors rallied around, but I still vividly remember going to my secret hiding place, the outdoor privy, if you can believe that, to cry, and so I could be alone.

BLITZER (voice-over): In 1999, Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter were honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest honor for civilians.

J. CARTER: Rosalynn and I have visited now more than 115 nations in the world. BLITZER (voice-over): Mrs. Carter was often irritated that her husband

was praised more for his achievements after his presidency than those of his administration. but she accepted that was politics.

R. CARTER: It doesn't matter what you do, you're gonna be criticized for it. And so do what you want to do.

BLITZER (voice-over): And they were a remarkably close first couple. Jimmy Carter used to say Roselynn was much more than his wife.


J. CARTER: It's always Rosalynn to whom I turn for the primary advice and we make the decisions together. She's the matriarch. When our 11 grandchildren or our four children have a problem, they call Rosalynn first because they know that they'll get a sympathetic ear.

BLITZER (voice-over): She remained by his side, occasionally joining with other first families and later supporting each other in their twilight, she with dementia and Mr. Carter in hospice. And in the 39th president, Rosalynn Carter got more than just a husband.

R. CARTER: My life with Jimmy Carter has been more adventurous than I ever dreamed it would be.


REID: Joining us now with more, presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Doug, thank you so much for being with us. I want to start our conversation talking about the moment when the Carters first arrived at the White House in 1977. That was such a fractious time in American history. The Watergate scandal had toppled the Nixon White House. Former President Ford had suffered by association in his decision to pardon Nixon. And in many ways, the Carters were really a breath of fresh air. So, tell us about how different they were from their predecessors.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, they were a breath of fresh air when they were in the Governor's Mansion in Georgia. It was Jimmy Carter's one term, but Rosalynn Carter pioneered that role. She started really creating the idea of taking care of people with mental illness, taking care of people that were incarcerated, working for poor people that didn't have the ways to go to school. And she brought those talents, and along with being the one who paid all the bills in the house and, you know, wrote all the letters and he was the archivist, if you like.

They came to Washington and it was a breath of fresh air. It was exemplified on the inaugural when they walked down Pennsylvania Avenue together and she created this new role, actually created the East Wing in the White House with the First Lady Chief of Staff. And she would sit in on meetings and be a key advisor. I believe she's one of the most underrated, underappreciated First Ladies because she was the symbiotic Siamese twin, so to speak, of Jimmy Carter.

REID: And Rosalyn was naturally shy. In fact, she said once that her knees would knock together when she had to give speeches in the early days of her husband's political career. But she worked tirelessly to become an asset. She eventually earned the nickname the Steel Magnolia. Talk about that evolution.

BRINKLEY: It was slow. I mean, she loved, as said in the clip that Wolf did so well. I mean, she liked being in the Navy. She didn't want to come back to planes. They returned there in 1954 out of, you know, they were in Hawaii, they had been in Virginia and Rhode Island and suddenly back in Plains, Georgia, her hometown. There was a drought in the 50's. And instead, she kind of started really becoming tough. She saw she had to defend her husband.

She hated losing. It's a sign of her people don't see. In fact, when Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980, she was more upset, more bitter than her husband, but she gained her chops going out there and meeting people and she was good at it. And in fact, in 1980 when President Carter really was a lot of time in the White House dealing with the Iran hostage crisis, as Rosalynn Carter traveled the country, state after state, shaking everybody's hands and really becoming the best surrogate that Jimmy Carter had.

This love of her translated when her book, "A First Lady from Plains" was published. It outsold Jimmy Carter's book, "Keeping Faith." It's one of the, I think, one of the finest, if not the finest written memoir by a First Lady. And so, people really want to dig in deep, make sure you read her book, "First Lady from Plains."

REID: And in that book, of course, she talks about how she was born in Plains, Georgia. She was raised a devout Southern Baptist, but she also fought for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment as First Lady. Given the time in history, how surprising was that?

BRINKLEY: Very much on the side of equal rights for women, particularly gulled her that women didn't get the same pay as men. She incidentally became very close to Betty Ford. In fact, people will talk about this remarkable friendship here. Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford in 1976. Cut to eight years later, and Rosalynn Carter's great close friend is Betty Ford and Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford became best friends. In fact, President Carter gave the chief eulogy at Gerald Ford's funeral. But she really cared about, always, about people in need.


I think we can't -- you're going to be hearing about what she did in America's Georgia and lecturing on helping destigmatize, get rid of the stigma of mental illness, that she thought it needed to be on par with physical illness. And she pioneered and championed that.

Today we're more used to it, but when she was doing it in the 1970s, there was no spokesperson that was as brave as she was. And you know, she really -- it's easy to rattle off numbers, she traveled 150 countries with her husband -- 150 countries. She went everywhere around the world. She built houses with Habitat for Humanity in the heat, hammering nails without complaint. She would do great outdoor adventures. She loved the outdoors as much

as her husband, and they would go fishing and camping. They'd go to the mountains of North Georgia and go all over the place. And when you look at their legacy, the Carters, how much of American land, national monuments, wildlife refuges they work to save, it's quite remarkable.

So, you're gonna see, and we know now in the historical community that, you know, people talk about the great love story of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. You have an equally dramatic love story with Jimmy Carter marrying his Plain sweetheart. They have that incredible long marriage of 77 years. And, you know, she was integrated with Carter family. She met Jimmy Carter because her close friend was Ruth Carter, Jimmy's sister.

So, when you get down a little town in Sumter County, Georgia like that, the Carters, their lore is everywhere. And they never became highfalutin. They always loved being in the agricultural setting. And they're friends all over Sumter County. But the world, it's large. So, we're going to be getting a lot of outpouring of sympathy, you know, for this loss of just a great American.

REID: Absolutely. We're already seeing that outpouring. Douglas Brinkley, thank you so much for joining us to reflect on this incredible life and legacy.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

REID: And we'll have much more coming up on the life and legacy of First Lady Rosalynn Carter. And coming up next, CNN goes with Israeli Defense Forces into Gaza. Oren Liebermann joins us live to tell us what he encountered.



REID: Now to the latest on the war between Israel and Hamas. Israel claims Hamas is using the Al-Shifa Hospital as a large-scale military compound. But the militant group and hospital officials deny that. Today, the Israeli military released this new video, claiming to show what it says is a tunnel shaft on the hospital's grounds. We've reached out to hospital officials about this new footage, but have not heard back. CNN's Oren Liebermann got a chance to enter Gaza with the Israel Defense Forces Saturday and joins us now from Tel Aviv with more. Oren, tell us what you saw during this embed.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, we spent about six hours inside Gaza. We crossed the border fence going into Gaza at about 9:00 in the evening, and then we came out at 3:00 in the morning. So, the entire time we were there, it was in the dark. And once we entered Gaza City, which has been without power for days, it felt even darker than that. Our main purpose was to go to the Al-Shifa Hospital Complex, the largest in Gaza, and take a look at the newly exposed tunnel shaft to see what we can see of it, what we can see down into it, and where it might lead. Take a look.


LIEBERMANN (voice-over): We go in under cover of darkness, and as we cross the border fence, it lights out across the Gaza Strip. Escorted by a tank, we switch into an armored personnel carrier for the final stretch. Even through a night vision screen, you can see the magnitude of the destruction on the streets of Gaza City.

We offload at the Al-Shifa Hospital, pick our way along Ibn Sina Street, or what's left of it.

UNKNOWN: Watch your feet, let's go.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): We have to keep our lights off most of the time, or risk exposing our position. CNN reported from Gaza under Israel Defense Forces escort at all times. As a condition for journalists to join this embed with the IDF, media outlets must submit footage filmed in Gaza to the Israeli military censors for review.

Now at the hospital compound, we wait inside a structure to make sure the area is secure before moving the short distance to the exposed tunnel shaft.

(On camera): And here is the entrance. You can see what looks like a ladder accessing to it. And as I step over here, it's very difficult to see how far down it goes, but it looks like there's almost a central shaft for a staircase and then the shaft of it disappears then down into the darkness.

(Voice-over): We move around the opening for a better look at the shaft itself. What's clear from here is this is meant to go deep underground.

(On camera): Which direction does the tunnel go?

NIR DINAR, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: We assume that the tunnel goes out and it has another corridor to this way.

LIEBERMAN: Towards the hospital?

DINAR: Towards the hospital. Meaning it connects the hospital to outside, which implies with the way that Hamas is working. Hamas is going out somewhere, shoot at the forces, going back inside to a safe place.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): We weren't allowed to enter the shaft, but the Israeli military sent special gear down to see where this leads. Inside, the video shows a spiral staircase, and as the camera orients itself, it moves forward into a tunnel. The tunnel makes a sharp left turn, and at the end of another path with concrete walls and an arched concrete top, a metal door they say they have not yet opened because they fear it's booby-trapped.

IDF spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari says some of the Israeli hostages taken on October 7th were also brought through the hospital.

[17:20:01] He says the body of Noa Marciano was discovered 50 meters from the compound.

DANIEL HAGARI, IDF SPOKESMAN: We have evidence that they were holding hostages in Rantisi, but also, we have evidence that they were bringing them to Shifa Hospital. We're still looking for the places they might have held them.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): This is not proof of the Hamas command center or headquarters underneath the hospital, but Israel continues trying to build its case that Hamas uses the sanctuary of the hospital for cover, which Hamas and hospital officials have denied.

The IDF's ability to continue its operation in Gaza and the credibility of Israel are at stake here, as the number killed in the fighting surpasses 12,000, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health. The IDF says one of its missions is to destroy Hamas, but with international criticism mounting, Israel has to show the terror organization is using Gaza's civilians and infrastructure as cover to justify an ongoing war.


(On camera): And the IDF says the tunnel shaft went about 10 meters down, so 30 or 33 feet down, and then 55 meters until that metal door you saw. So that's a bit more than 150 feet. At the same time, the IDF had its daily press briefing earlier this evening in which they said they had more information about three of the hostages taken on October 7th.

One of those was 19-year-old Corporal Noa Marciano. They say they know she was brought in alive, that she was injured in an Israeli strike that killed her captor. And they say she was then taken into the hospital, where they say she was then murdered by Hamas in the hospital itself.

To this point, they had simply said she had been murdered. Now they say -- now they give a little more detail about how they believe she was murdered based on intelligence. They also say they have video from October 7th of Hamas bringing a Nepali hostage and a Thai citizen who was a hostage into the hospital.

And it may be a surprise that there were Nepali or Thais here, but many of them come to Israel to work as migrant workers on the farms. Paula, worth pointing out that the IDF says they will put out more information about the tunnels as it becomes available and as they continue working to try to expose them.

REID: Oren Liebermann, thank you. And it has been six weeks since Hamas attacked Israel, killing hundreds of people. And it's still not clear what has happened to the more than 200 people being held hostage. But the Biden White House is expressing optimism that a deal may soon be in the works.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JON FINER, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What I can say about this at this time is we think that we are closer than we have been perhaps at any point since these negotiations began weeks ago, that there are areas of difference and disagreement that have been narrowed, if not closed out entirely, but that the mantra that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed certainly applies here to such a sensitive negotiation and there is no deal currently in place.


REID: CNN's Natasha Bertrand is following the latest developments. Natasha, this is clearly a priority for the White House, but even White House officials today conceding details are scarce. What are you learning?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yeah, so my colleague Alex Marquardt and MJ Lee, they're reporting that they are closing in on a deal here, and that would be essentially for a four to five day pause in the fighting in order to release a first round of about 50 hostages.

Now what -- what actually happens here and whether this deal actually comes together is another question. There have been a number of false starts in the past when it comes to these hostage negotiations. They are extremely delicate. There are a number of different parties involved, including the Qataris, the United States, and of course Hamas. And so that makes it extremely complicated.

And another sticking point here that we're told is that the dynamics of actually getting fuel, getting aid into the civilians in Gaza during that four to five day pause, that is a key sticking point in terms of the logistics. How is that actually going to happen? How is that aid going to get in?

And so, there are a number of key points here that are still yet to be worked out, but all of the parties involved, including the United States, including the Qataris, they seem to be very optimistic that there is a chance for a large number, scores of these hostages to be released in the coming days and we should note that it is expected that the first hostages to be released will likely be women and children.

REID: And the U.S. has no direct communication with Hamas and so these negotiations are going through Qatar. Does that slow down this process?

BERTRAND: Yeah, it certainly adds another layer to it, right? I mean, the Qataris have been a pretty reliable partner throughout all of this. They have engaged with Hamas in successful hostage releases in the past, during the last month or so of this conflict.

I would say the more unpredictable of course actor here is Hamas and they actually according to my colleagues reporting they went dark at least once over the last few days during these negotiations. They simply disappeared during the talks and that was according to a source because of the Israeli raid on Al-Shifa hospital that caused them to pull back.

But then they reappeared, they were engaging in talks again. But that just shows you how touch and go this process is and you know there is no deal really until there is a deal.

Natasha thank you so much. And next, remembering the former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. We'll be right back.




R. CARTER: I have been a caregiver, I think, all of my life. I feel like I have. My father died when I was 13. I was the oldest of four children. I had two brothers and a little sister; four years old. My mother had never written a check. It was a difficult time for us, but I was put in charge of the little children. And that was hard and it actually made me grow up very early.


REID: That was former First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 2019 talking about the more difficult parts of her life. She died at the age of 96.


CNN contributor Kate Anderson Brower joins us now. She's the author of "First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies." Kate, thank you so much for being with us. Let's talk a little bit about the legacy of Rosalynn Carter.

KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, she was a really transformative first lady. She's the first lady who used the East Wing office every day. She considered it her job. She is the only the second first lady to testify before Congress. Eleanor Roosevelt was the first.

And Rosalynn Carter cared deeply about mental health concerns. And when she was out campaigning for her husband, she would hear from constituents that there were they were suffering from mental health problems in their family. And you have to remember this is in the 70s, at a time when people were not talking about mental health in the way they are today.

So, she was transformative. People would say that she -- they called her the "Steel Magnolia" and she said she didn't mind that at all because steel is tough and Magnolia is southern, and she was both of those things.

REID: Do you feel that she set an example for future first ladies like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama who were also more involved in their husband's administrations?

ANDERSEN BROWER: I do. And, you know, she was criticized for that. She would sit in on cabinet meetings. She wanted to know everything that was going on because her logic was she was out campaigning for her husband and she needed to talk to people and bring back the concerns of Americans to her husband. First ladies are much closer to the American public than their husbands are.

And so, she absolutely laid the groundwork for women like Dr. Biden and Hillary Clinton who are changing the role of first lady, Dr. Biden by working outside of the White House, which is pretty remarkable, and I'm sure Rosalynn Carter would really envy that in many ways.

But she was also her husband's biggest supporter and she did so much for the Carter Center. After they left the White House, of course, when I interviewed her, she had tears in her eyes when she talked about eradicating Guinea worm disease, this terrible disease that afflicted so many people in Africa. What they did with the Carter Center was absolutely incredible.

And they are the most humble former president and first lady you would ever meet. Their house is absolutely normal. There's a lot of things that have been said about it, but I can attest that they are a rare example of a president and first lady who didn't profit from the presidency in the same way that we've seen other presidents. You know, there were not a lot of paid speeches and a lot of the money went back to the Carter Center.

REID: And in many ways, it's all of us who really profited from their post-presidency life. But let's talk a little more about how they helped to redefine that post-White House phase. So, what exactly they focused on during the past few decades?

ANDERSEN BROWER: I mean, it's incredible. They would focus on -- they traveled all around the world. They were looking at elections, making sure that elections were being run fairly in other countries. She was by his side every step of the way in Asia, in Africa, everywhere he went.

She was somebody who was a lot more political than people think. She was actually much more political than he was, by the way, when he was president. There were times when, for instance, he wanted to make budget cuts that would affect New York, this was right before the New York primaries, and she has told him not to. So, she could be a very tough politician.

But what she cared about was faith, family, and making real change. And I think for her, mental health is how she would most want to be remembered. But she saved countless lives. And she was right by his side, as one of their friends told me, digging latrines in Africa, helping build houses for habitat for humanity.

And they could be found in Plains, Georgia holding hands, walking down the street. You know, they were very humble people, and what you saw is what you got.

It was her idea to have the Camp David Peace Accords. The famous summit happened at Camp David because she thought it would be a great way to get the Egyptian and the Israeli leader together, and that's one of the longest lasting peace agreements in that part of the world. So, she was there for that summit, and she was taking over 200 pages of notes and forming friendships with Sadat's wife, for instance. So, she understood the power of personal relationships in the White House.

REID: Kate Andersen Brower, thank you so much for joining us.


REID: And next, we're breaking down the new video from inside Gaza as CNN went along with the IDF inside Al-Shifa Hospital. You're in the "CNN Newsroom."



REID: More now on the latest news from Gaza. Israel claims Hamas is using the Al-Shifa Hospital as a large-scale military compound, but the militant group and hospital officials deny that.

Today, the Israeli military released this new video claiming to show what it says is a tunnel shaft on the hospital's grounds. We've reached out to hospital officials about this new footage but have not heard back.

Now for more analysis on this, I want to bring in our next guest, former Middle East negotiator for the State Department, Aaron David Miller, and CNN Global Affairs analyst, Kim Dozier. First, Aaron, your reaction to this new video from Israel Defense Forces.

AARON DAVID MILLER, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT MIDDLE EAST NEGOTIATOR: You know, three weeks ago, the IDF spokesman, Admiral Hagari, in his presser, basically said that the Israelis believe there was a -- quote -- "command center" beneath Shifa Hospital. I think they probably so far have uncovered clear evidence that Hamas was embedding its assets and using the hospital for cover, if not bringing hostages into the hospital.


There's some evidence. There's a video clip which shows to a tie (ph), and I believe another foreign national being shepherded by Hamas through the hospital. I don't know if that has been confirmed or not. Whether or not there's a command center there, a sort of operating brain system central to Hamas's coordination and operational tactics is unclear. Israelis have been in the hospital for five days. I suspect it's a large complex. They'll stay longer to see what else they find.

REID: And Kim, the International Red Cross keeps reminding the world throughout this war that hospitals are protected under international humanitarian law. But it has also said that under that same law, hospitals may lose this protective status if they are used outside their humanitarian function. So, does this then apply to what we're just seeing from the IDF? KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The jury is out, and that is why Israel is working so hard to gather further evidence. You have to consider every part of the hospital that is hidden, that they're trying to reach, and this whole tunnel network. Much of it is booby- trapped. Some of it has militants still in hiding.

So, they're proceeding very carefully and doing things like -- the video clip that the IDF released that Aaron talked about, they gathered that from security footage, allegedly from inside the hospital. That means someone had to sit down and watch thousands of hours of security footage since October 7th to find those two alleged hostages.

Now, I'm interested in hearing from the countries from which they've been kidnapped to see if they also confirm that, yes, those are pictures of our hostages confirming what Israel claims because, of course, Israel has been just in a couple of incidents in the past caught out saying one thing and then later backtracking. So, right now, I think that's also why they're proceeding so carefully and slowly with this. Every single thing they want to show, they make sure -- they hope it won't be challenged.

REID: Aaron, more than two dozen newborn babies were moved to another hospital in the southern part of Gaza. Now, the IDF is saying Hamas is moving south. If there are claims that the militant group is using hospitals as cover or correct, is there a fear that those babies will still undergo the same difficulties that they did at Al-Shifa Hospital?

MILLER: The reality is that there are Hamas at farther south, Khan Younis, which is the home of Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif, the two military commanders that directed the terror surge on October 7, and the Israelis have been pressed by the administration to make sure that they can figure out a way to cater to the needs of those Gazans who they have basically instructed to move farther south.

So again, I think you have to consider the question of proportionality, if the value of the target has to be proportional to the calculation of how many civilians are in harm's way. So, I think based on what we've seen and the uncertainties involved in this Israeli operation, that there's likely to be additional Palestinian deaths and casualties as a consequence of the operations when the Israelis move farther south into Khan Younis.

REID: And Aaron, I also want to ask you about the hostage negotiations. The White House appears to be working around the clock to reach a deal and says it's close to doing so. Two sources tell CNN that a possible deal on the table would include a four- to five-day pause in the fighting for the release of about 50 hostages. Does that sound like a reasonable deal to you?

MILLER: This, although we don't really know, it's so opaque. And, you know, Middle East negotiations generally have only two speeds, slow and slower.

(LAUGHTER) There's a clear component part to this which involves the Israelis releasing, in a commensurate number, probably more women and adolescents in Israeli prisons. Then you have to negotiate over the duration.


Three days, four days, five days. And then there's also the question of whether they're going to split up families and whether they're going to release women and children if, in fact, they are related together, which I would think would be a key component in this trade. It reflects the fact that Hamas is under great pressure.

They're also interested in a PR victory. I think they believe this phased approach to negotiating with hostages will impose further constraints on the Israelis in an effort to delay, and perhaps as international pressure builds, create circumstances for what Hamas really wants, which is a ceasefire.

REID: Kim, how difficult are these negotiations when both President Biden and Israel have been rejecting these mounting calls for a ceasefire?

DOZIER: Well, the Qataris mainly have been working this behind the scenes as they have some major Hamas leadership hosted in their country. Long time ago, that was done at the Bush administration's request, as I understand. But you're working through different parties. You're not talking directly.

And also, especially in the case of Israel, the Netanyahu government is dealing with a right wing of its right wing that doesn't want to negotiate, doesn't like even two truckloads of gasoline, of fuel going into Gaza every day, wants to completely cut the Gazans off. And one of those officials even talked about the nuclear option for Gaza.

So, that's what Netanyahu is dealing with. And making a pause or agreeing to a pause of four or five days means a whole lot of time for Hamas to regroup, and Benjamin Netanyahu will take a lot of censure from his right flank on that.

REID: Aaron David Miller and Kim Dozier, thank you.

And coming up, President Biden reacting to the death of former first lady Rosalynn Carter. We'll be back in a moment.



REID: President Biden just paid tribute to former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who has died at the age of 96. CNN's Gabe Cohen is traveling with the president. Gabe, what did he say?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well, Paula, we just heard from President Biden speaking before boarding Air Force One to head back to D.C. from an event here in Norfolk, Virginia, speaking about Rosalynn Carter's passing. Let's play what he had to say. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And I was speaking to her grandson, and her family was just showing up. You know, they're really an incredible family because they brought so much grace to the office.

And, you know, it's one thing if you're the one who's being president and you're putting on the show while you're a president. Look what kind of post-president he was. He did the same thing for people after he was president when he was retired. Not for money, for just help. He was an incredible guy. He still is there.

I haven't -- I talked with the family today. Not the family. Family spokesman today in Plains. And I was told that all the family, all the children and grandchildren are with Jimmy Carter. And I always joked that he always would say to me, you're the first person ever I endorsed. I was the first person he endorsed as U.S. senator when he ran.

But he had just created integrity. He still does. And she did, too. Imagine, they were together what, 77 years? Anyway, I hope. They were all satisfied. They were happy, the family and I thought, that they were together.


COHEN: Now, the president had been holding a "Friendsgiving" event with the first lady here on this naval base, feeding service members and their families. And when the event kicked off, the first lady, Jill Biden, gave her own remarks about Rosalynn Carter, saying that she was a well -- she was well known in her efforts, Rosalynn Carter, that is on mental health and caregiving and women's rights, and so I hope that during the holidays, you'll consider including the Carter family in your prayers.

And President Biden has spoken about his close relationship, the close relationship he has maintained with former President Carter in recent years. In 2021, the Bidens visited the Carters at their home in Georgia, and they have maintained this close bond. Biden even saying in recent months that former President Carter has asked him to give his eulogy when he passes, Paula. It just speaks to the close connection the two families had, making this moment far more difficult as you can imagine.

REID: Of course. Gabe Cohen, thank you. And we'll have much more coming up.



COATES: You're in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Paula Reed in Washington. Breaking news we are following tonight, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has passed away peacefully in her home this afternoon at the age of 96.

The Carter Center is remembering her as a tireless advocate for those living with mental illness and as a champion of democracy who look to advance human rights.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying she was unwavering voice for the overlooked and underrepresented, noting that because of her mental health advocacy, more people live with better care and less stigma.

And moments ago, we heard from President Biden, who applauded her integrity.


BIDEN: You know, they're really an incredible family because they brought so much grace to the office. I talked to the family today. Not the family. Family spokesman today in Plains.