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Britain's King Charles III Diagnose With Cancer; Blinken Seeks Progress On Deal For Release Of Hostages; Afghans Who Aided United States Will Be In Limbo If Border Bill Fails. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired February 06, 2024 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world and to everyone streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Rosemary Church.
Just ahead, a shocking announcement from Buckingham Palace. King Charles diagnosed with cancer. What we know about the state of his health? And what it means for the royal family going forward?
America's top diplomat continues a high stakes tour aimed at rallying support for an Israel-Hamas hostage deal and ensuring more aid for Gaza.
And scenes of devastation in Chile. Communities live reeling after devastating wildfires rip across the country.
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ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta, this is CNN NEWSROOM WITH ROSEMARIE CHURCH.
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CHURCH: Good to have you with us. Well, wishes of a speedy recovery are pouring in from around the world for Britain's King Charles III, after Buckingham Palace announced he has been diagnosed with an undisclosed type of cancer.
It was detected during treatment last month for an enlarged prostate. But a source tells CNN, it's not prostate cancer.
The palace says the 75-year-old monarch will step back from his public duties while he undergoes treatment, but he will continue with state business and official paperwork.
Meanwhile, the people of London are offering their support to the king.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY BLOOMER, HOTEL MANAGER: So, it's a bit of a shock, like I'm genuinely heartfelt thoughts to him. That sounds pretty scary.
STEVE COSTELLO, RETIRED ARCHITECT: I wish him well. I wish him well. It's very sad. Very sad.
DOLORES, SEMI-RETIRED NURSE: Well, I'm very sad to hear -- this very sorry to hear. And I pray that he will recover.
LAURA DUDLEY, CARE HOME WORKER: He's got have the best doctors. He's got the best chance, age against him, rest up boy. Abdicate. Give up the throne, give it to William, you get better crack on. Enjoy Camilla.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak posted on X, "Wishing His Majesty a full and speedy recovery. I have no doubt he will be back to full strength in no time, and I know the whole country will be wishing him well."
U.S. President Joe Biden posted, "Navigating a cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship takes hope and absolute courage. Jill and I joined the people of the United Kingdom in praying that His Majesty experiences a swift and full recovery."
Well, more now from CNN royal correspondent Max Foster.
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Buckingham Palace, announcing that King Charles the third has been diagnosed with a form of cancer, just over a week after undergoing a corrective procedure for a benign enlarged prostate.
The palace outlining that during that procedure, a separate issue of concern was caught, resulting in the diagnosis. The type of cancer hasn't been specified. But a source tells CNN that it's not prostate cancer.
The statement released by the palace revealed that the British monarch has already commenced a schedule of regular treatments, and announced that he'll postpone public facing duties as advised by his doctors.
Monday statements also saying that Charles decided to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and help spread awareness for those affected by cancer.
The King will also continue to say business and official paperwork as usual as head of state. We're seeing and hearing that he'll continue his weekly audience with the British prime minister.
CNN also understands there are no current plans to appoint counsellors of state, which refers to designated members of the royal family who had delegated the monarch's duties temporarily if he becomes too unwell.
The public would be told if that were to change. The diagnosis, less than a year into Charles's reign, also becoming a moment of unity for the royal family.
CNN is learning that Queen Camilla is preparing to play an important role during this time, continuing her full program of public duties.
Kensington Palace also announcing earlier in the day that the Prince of Wales would return to public duties this week, after taking time off to support his wife, Kate, after recovering from her recent abdominal surgery.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry set to fly back to the U.K. in the coming days to visit his father.
The family, despite their fractures over the last few years, coming back together amid this crisis. Max Foster, CNN, London.
CHURCH: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is now back in the Middle East, his fifth whirlwind trip to the region since the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel.
While Blinken is looking for progress on a hostage deal and an end to the war in Gaza, he will seek to make clear that the U.S. is not looking to escalate tensions after its recent action in the region.
America's top diplomat is set for talks in Egypt in the hours ahead. But on Monday, he sat down with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for more than two hours in Riyadh. They discuss regional coordination, hoping to end the fighting in Gaza and plans for the enclave after the war.
But so far, there seems to be no end in sight to Israel's offensive inside Gaza. The Israel defense forces is again calling on civilians to leave neighborhoods west of Gaza City, and in Khan Younis to the south.
Now, there is fear of what could happen next in Rafah, in Gaza's fast South once Israeli troops reach the area and expand operations.
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YOAV GALLANT, MINISTER OF DEFENCE, ISRAEL (through translator): We will continue this action and we will reach the places where we have not yet fought, in the center and south of the Gaza Strip. And especially in the last remaining center of gravity in the hands of Hamas, Rafah.
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CHURCH: Let's bring in journalist Elliott Gotkine, now, following developments for us, live from London. Good morning to you, Elliott. So, what do we know about Secretary Blinken 's meeting with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Monday, and what's expected to come out of his talks with Egypt's president today?
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN JOURNALIST: Rosemary, Secretary Blinken certainly racking up the air miles, isn't he? Saudi Arabia on Tuesday and then, Egypt, Qatar and Israel on Wednesday.
So, I think, in Riyadh in the conversation with MBS, as he's known the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. The focus is probably more on the day after the Israel Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, talking about things such as Saudi-Israeli normalization and the Palestinian state, or at least a concrete roadmap or steps towards a Palestinian state that the Saudis are now demanding as the price of normalization with Israel.
Now, there are other issues that would be perhaps bilateral between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, which would also have been a topic for conversation as well.
But since Saudi doesn't really have any leverage over Hamas, the focus would have been on the day after.
Now, that may seem a bit counterintuitive to kind of deal with that first, but certainly, that piece of the puzzle is seen as integral to getting the current crisis in Gaza resolved with a focus in Egypt, in Qatar, and Israel, will be on getting those hostages released in exchange for the freeing of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, getting more humanitarian aid, and then, of course, getting this humanitarian pause in place that could then hopefully, Secretary Blinken hopes will lead to a more enduring peace and resolution of the current conflict, which is ongoing.
But as we've just heard from Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant, Israel is certainly not letting up, although it does say that it's almost completed its operations in Khan Younis. And of course, the other thing to bear in mind is given how central talk of a two-state solution now has become, it's important to remember that both the current Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is dead set against an independent Palestinian state, as is Hamas, which, of course, Israel is fighting right now.
And so, long as those two parties are opposed, it's hard to see how that can become a piece of the puzzle to resolve the current crisis. But certainly, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is giving that a go when his conversations in Saudi yesterday and in Egypt, Qatar and Israel today. Rosemary?
CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Elliott Gotkine, joining us live from London.
Well, here in the United States, President Joe Biden is threatening to veto a standalone bill for aid to Israel backed by Republicans. It comes after House Speaker Mike Johnson announced over the weekend that the House would reject the broader bipartisan aid bill for both Israel and Ukraine, and would instead vote on a measure to provide assistance only to Israel.
In a statement on Monday, the White House said the security of Israel should be sacred not a political game. Adding, "The administration strongly opposes this ploy, which does nothing to secure the border does nothing to help the people of Ukraine defend themselves against Putin's aggression, and denies humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians, the majority of whom are women and children.
Johnson on Monday, called President Biden's veto threat, a betrayal of Israel.
Well, joining me now is David Sanger, CNN political and national security analyst. He is also the White House national security correspondent for The New York Times. Good to have you with us.
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Great to be with you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: So, President Biden is threatening to veto this standalone aid package for Israel, saying the security of Israel should be sacred, not a political game. But that's exactly what appears to be happening here as House Speaker Mike Johnson calls the bipartisan border security bill dead on arrival, even though that bill would provide Israel and Ukraine with aid. Is there any path forward for that bipartisan bill?
SANGER: You know, it's looking increasingly unlikely that there is. You know, the administration took a big bet here. And it seemed like a good bet at the time, which was if you packaged, real change in the border, together with the Israel aid, which they knew was going to be quite popular on a bipartisan basis. And Ukraine aid which they thought I think wrongly that the Republicans would rally behind, you had a winning combination, that there were things in that bill that not everybody was going to go like.
But that it would -- the fact that you had all three together would bring together enough different constituencies. That strategy now appears to have failed.
The problem with getting just the Israel money through is that the message it sends to Ukraine is the United States is giving up. And the message it sends to the Palestinians is the United States doesn't care as much about your suffering as they care about helping Israel continue the war in Gaza, even after the awful terror attack in on October 7th, that started this.
CHURCH: And Senate Republicans, they did meet to discuss the fate of the embattled border Bill Monday, ahead of a procedural vote Wednesday, with the yes vote shrinking as you point out,
Trump is calling on the GOP to reject that bill, and instead pursue a separate border bill that's not tied to any foreign aid, despite Republicans initially insisting that foreign aid be included in the bill. So, who wins this strange tit for tat game of politics? And who are the big losers?
SANGER: Well, that's the best guesswork right now, based on his past statements is that former President Trump doesn't want a border bill at all. And then, many of the Republicans who are now in the House don't either, because they would much rather campaign on the border issue, than give President Biden an opportunity to go do more to solve the problem.
And it's a classic case of what happens when you have that urgent foreign policy problem that gets enmeshed in presidential politics.
So, they'd much rather have a border bill, maybe even the same border bill just passed after the election.
This leaves the Israel and Ukraine portions of this in a lurch. And also raises the question. If at the end of the day, the Ukrainians run completely out of ammunition, they're already running low. And Vladimir Putin makes significant gains, will the United States be in large part responsible for many of those gains by giving up on the idea of supporting Ukraine?
At a moment that are the U.S. allies -- I'm in Berlin right now, the Germans have just committed nearly $8 billion to what the European Union has put together a $54 billion program over a number of years. What would be missing from this is the center of NATO, the United States.
CHURCH: And once President Biden vetoes that standalone aid bill for Israel, what's the likely next move then from Republicans?
SANGER: Well, I think what the president is trying to do is force them into a combination bill that puts together Israel, the Palestinian aid, Ukrainian, and then the border, if he -- if he can do it.
He put the border into the bill because they asked for it. And so, your question now is do the Republicans pay a price of any kind for holding that up? I think they are betting they don't, and the president is betting they do.
CHURCH: David Sanger, appreciate you joining us and sharing your perspective on these matters. Thank you.
SANGER: Great to be with you.
CHURCH: So, if the proposed border deal does pass in Congress, it will also extend the Special Immigrant Visa program for Afghans who worked with the U.S. government during the war in Afghanistan. It will also provide a pathway to citizenship for Afghans who are living temporarily in the U.S. under a humanitarian parole program.
And earlier, I spoke with Andrew Sullivan, director of advocacy for No One Left Behind. And I asked him what happens to America's Afghan allies if Republican lawmakers reject this bill.
ANDREW SULLIVAN, DIRECTOR OF ADVOCACY, NO ONE LEFT BEHIND: Really, since before the withdrawal, No One Left Behind and other groups have called for supporting our Afghan allies. That's passing domestic adjustment for Afghans that arrived during the evacuation. But it's also for extending the Special Immigrant Visa program and opening up additional pathways for our allies.
Unfortunately, if it doesn't pass, you know, they really cannot wait much longer. They continue to be targeted by the Taliban. The SIV process continues to take far longer than it should, by statute supposed to be nine months, but the most recently quarterly state department report has the process taking 608 days.
So, unfortunately, our allies will remain in in limbo. That will remain targeted by the Taliban. And it's incredibly worrisome if Congress, you know, does not decide to stand with our Afghan allies.
CHURCH: So, how critical is it that the US stand by its promise to protect all those Afghans who served the U.S. government? And what message does it send these wartime allies if this country abandons them again?
SULLIVAN: So, I think it's incredibly important that we stand with them. I think there is, you know, multiple dimensions to it.
So, firstly, it's a veterans' issue. I myself, I'm an Afghan veteran, there are over 830,000 U.S. veterans that served in Afghanistan. Many of them are suffering from moral injury, because we've not stood with our Afghan allies, our brothers and sisters in arms. This is a good way to address that.
Secondly, if we don't stand with them, what message does it send to our allies across the world? Whether it be the Western Pacific, Eastern Europe, the Levant, I think it shows that America is not necessarily the most reliable partner, I think would have negative downstream effects for future national security.
And then, lastly, quite frankly, it's just the right thing to do. I mean, America is a nation that keeps its promise. We have a moral obligation. So, really, I think, you know, if we fail to keep the promise to them, all three of those things will suffer.
CHURCH: And next hour, we will hear the rest of my conversation with Andrew Sullivan.
Still to come a deadly storm is sweeping through California, unleashing floods, stranding drivers and causing tremendous damage.
Plus, with the death toll rising the battle continues to contain dozens of wildfires in Chile. We're back with that and more in just a moment.
CHURCH: Torrential rain and life-threatening flash floods are tearing through many parts of southern California. What's known as an atmospheric river is hovering over the region and seems to be in no hurry to leave. Heavy winds have already knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of households.
Many flights are delayed or cancelled, at least two people have been killed by falling trees. Authorities have been urging everyone to stay home. But some of those who couldn't or wouldn't are now being rescued.
Los Angeles is expected to receive almost half a year's worth of rain by today.
The National Weather Service has warned of an extremely dangerous situation in the Hollywood Hills area where homes have been evacuated. Landslides and mudslides have also damaged famous areas like Beverly Hills, Malibu, Brentwood, and Burbank.
Well, heavier rainfall is now moving into San Diego, and Karen Maginnis is tracking that live for us from the weather center. Good to see you, Karen. So, what is going on?
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is going to transition. It's still impacting Southern California around the L.A. basin area. But move a little bit further towards the south, towards San Diego and we could see some record snowfall or rainfall totals there.
I mentioned the snowfall because some of those mountains are going to see epic amount Have snowfall over the next couple of days. What you're looking at here is debris and mud in Beverly Hills. They saw some of the heaviest rainfall totals that I've seen in the last 24 to 48 hours.
This is rescue I've been showing, frequently over the last few hours. This gentleman jumped into this wash area because his dog jumped in it. He was rescued by these first responders, and he was safe, they brought him up, they took him to the hospital. His dog, who should probably be named lucky now was also rescued. He was taken care of. They said that he's doing well now but a very scary moment in time with those rushing waters there.
Now, this is the Pacific Coast Highway in Monterey County. This is one of the most beautiful highways in the U.S. Well, now, we've got debris on the roadway, and you can better believe that first responders here have been trying to take care of many, many landslides.
They are saying just around L.A., itself, 120 landslides being reported there when this atmospheric river just pummeled in like a fire hose that water, which has produced and supersaturated these hills and mountains, and it comes down in the form of lots of debris. Very challenging for the residents in these areas. Here is some of that rainfall I was telling you about.
In Bel Air, we had over 11-1/2 inches of rainfall in two days. But what's happening over the next couple of days is that atmospheric river, which is actually situated off the north central coast of California starts to move a little bit further towards the south, and then across the Great Basin, and then, into the Four Corners region, we will see epic snowfall.
If you're a skier, you're going to love this. You're not going to love trying to get to the ski resort because it is going to be very challenging. We'll stay on top of it another update in the next hour, Rosemary?
CHURCH: And we appreciate that, and you, Karen Maginnis. Many thanks.
Well, the death toll from dozens of wildfires burning in Chile has risen to at least 123 people with hundreds more missing. Two coastal cities popular with tourists are among the hardest hit with many homes reduced to rubble.
Chile's finance minister estimates the damage in one region alone will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The fires come in the midst of a summer heatwave. And scientists say climate change and the El Nino weather pattern are only making these types of fire events worse.
Chile's president says it is the deadliest disaster the country has faced in more than a decade.
CNN's Patrick Oppmann shows us what it looks like on the ground as survivors struggle to pick up the pieces.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Abraham returned to the place where his home one stood. Nothing remains, the home is reduced to rubble, memories of his life burned to ashes. He says he has nothing left but the clothes on his back a pair of overalls and some slippers.
ABRAHAM MARDONES, RESIDENT (through translator): Everything was consumed in its path. Memories, comforts, your home, our things, I was left with nothing. At the moment, I have nothing but overalls. I'm wearing slippers that were given to me, so, I have nothing. I am left with nothing.
OPPMANN (voice over): A Haunting reality for many as wildfires tear across swaths of Chile, Chile, more than 100 people and leaving hundreds missing.
Coastal cities like, Vina del Mar and Valparaiso, are choked in smoke. Chile announced a two-day mourning period as firefighters race to battle fires and save lives.
The governor of the Valparaiso region, Rodrigo Mundaca, announced curfews to help authorities battle the blazes.
GABRIEL BORIC, PRESIDENT OF CHILE (through translator): It is the whole of Chile that is suffering the mourning our dead. And from the region of Valparaiso, I send a hug of solidarity and my heartfelt condolences to each of the victims who have lost a loved one.
And also, to those who have lost their homes, their memories and their belongings.
OPPMANN (voice over): Loved ones embrace each other as they find themselves forced to live in makeshift tents, surrounded by what was once their homes now razed to the ground.
Chileans are calling on younger people to volunteer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If you have the possibility to come and help, come. Because what is needed most, our hands? This is not the first time she really has gone through this type of thing. So, we know that Chileans know how to get up, how to prepare, how to help others.
OPPMANN (voice over): This satellite imagery, showing the areas of Chile before and after the fires illustrates how old consuming the fire was.
Chile's wildfires are not an isolated incident, as a continent faces the growing impact of climate change, particularly from El Nino, a natural phenomenon characterized by warmer than average waters in the Tropical Pacific that influences weather around the globe.
Compounded with a drought, the country has been facing for years. The wildfires were lethal. December through February are the peak months of the fire season in Chile. And officials warned more deadly blazes could be in store.
Patrick Oppmann, CNN.
CHURCH: Time for a short break. When we come back, we will go live to London for the latest on King Charles's cancer diagnosis and what it means for the British monarchy.
Plus, as the war rages in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing mounting pressure from different sides. What it means for the future of his government.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Updating our top story this hour, Britain's King Charles III is postponing his public duties as he undergoes treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer.
Buckingham Palace says doctors discovered the cancer during a recent procedure for an enlarged prostate. A royal source tells CNN, the king does not have prostate cancer. He was last seen in public on Sunday, attending church with his wife, Queen Camilla, in Sandringham.
So, let's bring in CNN's Anna Stewart who joins us live this hour from London. Good morning to you, Anna. So, King Charles went public with details on his enlarged prostate treatment. But now, the palace is not disclosing details surrounding the king's shocking cancer diagnosis. And as a result, there has been a lot of speculation.
What is the latest on this and can we expect more details from the palace in the days ahead?
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting that you mentioned there is a lot of speculation because that's exactly what the palace didn't really want. The last line of the statement we had yesterday, essentially said his majesty had chosen to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and in the hope that it may help people understand and of course, many people around the world are affected by cancer. Now, there is a marked difference between her late majesty. We had very little information about her health concerns, which were very much considered private. For instance, we still don't actually know the cause of the late majesty's death or the ailment she had in her latter years.
Now, here we have some openness, but of course, we don't know what type of cancer this is. We don't know what stage of the cancer it is. We don't know what sort of treatments King Charles will be undergoing. What we do know is the treatment will begin very quickly. And as we understand it, he won't be wanting us in (ph) a running commentary on that. So, there will be no cameras. He's not wanting any kind of public arena really for his treatment, as he goes in and out as an outpatient for this treatment.
So, that's what we know so far. It's not actually dissimilar to the situation with the Princess of Wales, who we know, of course, had abdominal surgery. Again, we don't know what for, but we know that she is recovering. So, it's a slightly different tone from the royal family and how open they are. But only up to a point, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yeah, indeed. And what, if any, of the likely constitutional ramifications of this announcement?
A. STEWART: It's one of those moments that you remember that the U.K. is a constitutional monarchy. We have a constitutional monarchy and there are potentially ramifications, not at this stage though. The king clearly isn't going to be doing any public-facing engagements. He will still be able to essentially work from home, going through those boxes of many, many documents and doing important roles, because the monarch in the U.K. has the role of appointing prime ministers, of dissolving parliament, of giving royal assent for new laws, so that they can be put into place.
Now, in the event that his majesty were to get more on well, one of the options is to appoint a Counselors of State. There are actually several. It's always your spouse, the four next in line to the throne. And actually under this monarchy, two have been added, so Prince Edward and Prince Anne as well. So if the king chose, you could actually appoint two or more of those Counselors of State to take care of some the constitutional roles. That isn't happening at this stage.
I would say though that Prince William, of course, is under even more pressure at this stage to possibly help fill in some of those public- facing engagements. And he's just had multiple weeks off to look after his wife, who's undergone surgery -- who underwent surgery and is undergoing a recovery. He is expected to be back into sort of public- facing engagements from tomorrow, but a lot of pressure of course, on him in the family right now.
CHURCH: Indeed. Anna Stewart joining us live from London, many thanks for that report.
America's top diplomat is set for talks in Egypt in the coming hours, his latest stop and another high-stakes trip to the Middle East. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's fifth trip to the region began in Saudi Arabia, where he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. They discussed regional coordination to end the fighting in Gaza, as well as what comes next.
Meantime, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is once again stressing that the war in Gaza will not end anytime soon. Speaking at a party meeting on Monday, Netanyahu said the war must not end before Israel kills Hamas' leadership, adding that Israel's goal is an absolute victory over Hamas. But as CNN's Jeremy Diamond reports, Mr. Netanyahu is facing pressure from Israelis, including demands to bring back the remaining hostages.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the streets of Tel Aviv, war time unity beginning to crack.
NIR SHOHET, KIBBUTZ NIR AM: To call for election in war time, it's very, very difficult. It's hurt my stomach to speak up against my government in war time when my friends are inside fighting, but it's a must.
DIAMOND (voice-over): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing a mounting wave of anger and discontent that could threaten his hold on power.
After nearly four months of war, Israeli forces have yet to rout Hamas from Gaza. Hostage families are demanding he agree to a ceasefire to free their loved ones.
PROF. REUVEN HAZAN, DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, HEBREW UNIVERSITY: The pressure is everywhere he turns. This is an extremely difficult time for him politically. The pressure that he's getting from the right-wing is ironically from people who are sitting in government with him.
DIAMOND (voice-over): As talk of a ceasefire grows, far-right members of his government are threatening to walk, putting his governing coalition at risk.
ITAMAR BEN GVIR, ISRAELI NATIONAL SECURITY MINISTER (through translator): I say this clearly. A reckless deal means a dissolution of the government.
DIAMOND (voice-over): Tensions are also rising to the surface between Netanyahu and his chief rival Benny Gantz, the former defense minister who joined an emergency unity government days into the war. Gantz's right-hand man Gadi Eisenkot, going so far as to call for new elections in the coming months, citing a lack of trust in Netanyahu.
If elections were held now, a recent poll found Netanyahu's party would lose half its seats in the 120-member Knesset. While Gantz's party would nearly triple in size, likely making Gantz prime minister. Sources tell CNN, Gantz is looking for the right moment to make his exit, but that he is likely to stick around as long as the war is ongoing.
DIAMOND: Benny Gantz is walking a tight rope.
HAZAN: Yes. But notice that everything he's done, not just in the last three months, but even before, it's as if he's reading the polls and whatever the majority of Israelis want, that's what he's going to do. The polls right now don't want him to leave the government. When you see those polls change, take out your stopwatch.
DIAMOND (voice-over): As for Netanyahu, he sounds like he's already back on the campaign trail, appealing to his right flank.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): My insistence is what has prevented over the years the establishment of a Palestinian state that would have constituted an existential danger to Israel.
DIAMOND (voice-over): And the politics of fear that have kept him in power for so long.
NETANYAHU (through translator): If someone has a different position, they should show leadership and candidly state their position to the citizens of Israel.
DIAMOND (voice-over): Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Tel Aviv.
CHURCH: Still to come, parts of Chinas slammed by winter weather, creating a nightmare for tens of millions hoping to travel for the busy Lunar New Year holiday. Back with that and more in just a moment.
CHURCH: Heavy snow, rain and ice are causing all sorts of headaches for China's Lunar New Year celebrations, with tens of millions expected to hit the roads or flight to visit loved ones, the country's biggest travel holiday. CNN's Marc Stewart has more on how they're dealing with the delays.
MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Lunar New Year holiday rush is well underway. Billions of individual trips will be made. The government does what they can to keep things orderly, but there's one thing it can't control and that's the weather. M. STEWART (voice-over): Parts of China at a standstill during one of the most treasured times of year. Cars are stuck, some highways look like parking lots. There is such desperation.
M. STEWART (voice-over): People are doing whatever they can to chip away the ice-covered pavements. It's all part of a winter blast hitting as hundreds of millions of travelers head home for the Lunar New Year holiday. Tang Zitao is in the middle of it.
TANG ZITAO, HUBEI PROVINCE RESIDENT (through translator): This journey has been too long and it is indeed a torture.
M. STEWART (voice-over): He told me his six-hour drive is now taking more than 24 hours.
M. STEWART: What are the road conditions like? Are you seeing snow? Are you seeing ice? How bad is it?
ZITAO (through translator): The snow has been falling since the day before yesterday. It has melted a little, but then turn into ice, so the road is very wet and slippery.
M. STEWART (voice-over): He is one of many on a treacherous journey that has left some travelers stranded without food and water. Who needs warm water, this little girl asks as she goes car to car with her mother, other villagers offer noodles and porridge from over the fence. It's not any easier if you're taking the train. It's packed inside the station in central China as passengers deal with delays.
Much of this mess a flashback to 2008 when blizzards left 24 people dead and hundreds of thousands of people stranded. Yet, there's a spirit of determination to make it home.
ZITAO (through translator): No matter what, we would always head home for the spring festival. It is a Chinese tradition.
M. STEWART (voice-over): A tradition that could be hindered by unforgiving forces of nature.
M. STEWART: This is a tough time in China. The economy is in rough shape and many people are wondering about what the future holds as they head home for the holidays. The bad weather, the disruptions are all adding yet another layer of stress.
Mark Stewart, CNN, Beijing.
CHURCH: And finally, London Somerset House is wishing a happy birthday to an absolute icon. It's Hello Kitty's 50th anniversary. The museum is featuring her in an exhibit called CUTE which explores bright, cheerful, colorful objects and ideas and pop culture. It also shows how cuteness can be used in insidious ways in propaganda for dictators, for example, or to sell drugs. However, that's not what Hello Kitty is doing. She really is all about the cuteness.
Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. "World Sport" is next. Then, I will be back in 15 minutes with more "CNN Newsroom." Do stick around.