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CNN International: Blinken Holds Talks With Top Israeli Officials; Israel Reports Multiple Operations In Khan Younis; Missile Strikes Hit At Least Six Parts Of Ukraine; Nation On Edge As It Gears Up For General Election; Prince William Carries Out First Duty Since King's Diagnosis; Senate Deal On Border And Ukraine Funding Seems Dead; Chinese Fans Fume As Lionel Messi Plays In Japan; Taylor Swift Continues Record-Breaking Tour In Tokyo. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 08:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to CNN Newsroom. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London, in for Max Foster today.

Just ahead, as the U.S. Secretary of State visits Israel, an Israeli official tells CNN there is no way it will accept a Hamas counter offer to a proposal aimed at releasing the hostages. We'll have all the details live from Tel Aviv.

Plus, missiles strike multiple sites across Ukraine, cutting power to parts of the capital. We're live in Kyiv for the latest. And as pop superstar Taylor Swift rocks Tokyo days before she's expected at the Super Bowl, CNN catches up with some of her most devoted fans.

And as pop superstar Taylor Swift rocks Tokyo days before she's expected at the Super Bowl, CNN catches up with some of her most devoted fans.

America's top diplomat is holding crucial talks with key Israeli officials today, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will press for a humanitarian pause in Gaza and will discuss Hamas's response to a proposal to secure the release of the remaining hostages held by the group.

Meanwhile, we're getting new details of that Hamas counter proposal. The group is outlining a three-phase plan lasting several months that would include the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, freedom of movement for people in the enclave, as well as a massive humanitarian effort.

This drone video shows the scale of the destruction in northern Gaza after four months of war. An Israeli official familiar with the negotiations says there is, quote, "no way that Israel will agree to the Hamas proposal."

CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us now live from Tel Aviv. Jeremy, there was quite a bit of cautious optimism in the lead up to these proposals and counterproposals that a deal could be struck, but that seems to have been quite rapidly atomized by the response from the Israelis. What more can you tell us?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, to a certain extent, I think that's true. But I also think that when you look at the details of this counterproposal from Hamas, you'll find that at least in the first phase of these three phases that Hamas has outlined in this counterproposal, each phase lasting 45 days, that first phase is actually not all that different to the initial broad framework that Israel proposed to Hamas as part of an agreement with the United States, Egypt, and Qatar.

And that's because if you look at this, they're looking at the same category of people who would be released, women, children, sick, and the elderly. 45 days versus six weeks, about the same amount of time. An intensification of humanitarian aid, a temporary ceasefire, and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from population centers.

That's largely in line with what the Israelis initially proposed. But this starts to fall apart when you get to phases two and three. And that's in part because Hamas would see the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Gaza during that second phase. And then in the third phase, you would see the exchange of bodies and remains of the deceased.

Now, there's also another problem with phase one, which is that Hamas has effectively suggested that all prisoners detained by Israel since October 7th should be released. And an Israeli official is telling us that that there is no way that Israel will agree to those conditions, including a total ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

They are also saying, pushing back on this idea of releasing prisoners captured on October 7th. So there's no question that there is still significant, significant daylight, especially when you look at the broad goals that each side is trying to achieve. Israel, the Israeli prime minister in recent days, making clear that this war will not end until he has achieved victory in terms of releasing all the hostages, but also removing Hamas from power in Gaza.

Hamas, meanwhile, is looking for a permanent ceasefire, a way to end this war. But the question is now, will they be able to reach a deal on phase one, for example, and then continue the negotiations to get to phase two, phase three? I think that's a real possibility here, but we will see.

The ball very much back in Israel's court. Secretary of State Tony Blinken meeting today with the Israeli Prime Minister and other Israeli officials, and there's no doubt that they will be discussing this counter proposal and readying one of their own.

NOBILO: Jeremy, the backdrop to all of this is, of course, the offensive that is ongoing. Can you bring us up to date on the latest in that?

DIAMOND: Yes. The Israeli military is continuing to press ahead with this military offensive in Western Khan Younis. They've been doing so for about two weeks now. And what we're seeing is that the fighting is continuing to be very, very close to several of these hospitals, in particular, Al Nasser Hospital, where thousands of internally displaced Palestinians are currently sheltering.

And we've seen numerous videos on social media of what appeared to be sniper fire in the streets surrounding that hospital, making it nearly impossible for people looking for some sense of safety to actually be able to flee those hospitals and to head somewhere safer.

The Israeli military, for its part, is claiming that once again in the last 24 hours, they killed dozens of Hamas fighters. What's also clear is that the fighting is continuing, not only in southern Gaza, but also in central and in northern Gaza. And the Israeli military is issuing warnings to civilians not to return to northern Gaza today. Bianca?

NOBILO: Jeremy Diamond, thank you.


A massive Russian missile attack has hit cities across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv. At least four people were killed there and 38 were injured, including a pregnant woman, according to local officials. One person was killed in the southern city of Mykolaiv, where officials say a missile severely damaged dozens of homes.

E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell, who's visiting Kyiv, posted online that he had to say it started the day in a shelter as air raid sirens sounded.

Now let's get to CNN's Fred Pleitgen, who's in Kyiv for us. Fred, how big was this attack? And other than the physical impact of it, what kind of toll does this take on an already weakened morale for the country?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, it was a very big attack. And I have a bit of an update for you. We're saying that 40 -- that four were killed and 38 were injured. It's not actually 40 people who were injured here in the capital of Kyiv. That went up just a little bit, but it certainly was a large scale attack that we saw here.

Certainly a lot larger than we've seen over the past couple of weeks. And on the one hand, it was large as far as the regions of the country that it targeted. You mentioned some of the places. Mykolaiv, for instance, where also a person was killed. That's in the south of the country.

Also in the west of the country around Lviv places, they're targeted with missiles, some other places with missiles and with attack drones. Also in Kharkiv in the northeast of the country, there were some attacks. They're using some shorter range missiles.

But the other thing about this attack, and we witnessed this on the ground in the early morning hours because most of us here were actually woken by air raid sirens and then by explosions at around 6:00 a.m. local time, I would say, was just the duration that all of this took.

It went on for a very long time and it really came in two ways where we saw the surface to air missile systems here around this city really get to work. And I can tell you, it's a pretty awe inspiring experience when you see those surface to air missile systems launched their rockets and some of these cruise missiles and ballistic missiles that are coming in.

So that certainly was a spectacle that people here saw. I don't know whether or not it has an influence on the morale here of this country. I do think it does show that the surface to air missile batteries that they have in the troops that are working on them certainly did a pretty good job. As far as we could tell, there's some interesting statistics that we've discerned from what took place.

Apparently, the Ukrainians managed to shoot down about two-thirds of all the drones and missiles that were fired here at this country. Most of the, if you will, slower moving cruise missiles, especially were taken down by some of these surface to air missile systems. However, there's two types of missiles that the Ukrainians seem to be having problems with.

One's a ballistic missile called the Iskander, that's a medium range missile that's often used here on the Ukrainian capital by the Russians. The other one's called the X-22, which is known as the aircraft carrier killer, which is designed to destroy aircraft carriers The Russians apparently shooting that also at urban areas, and you can imagine the damage that that causes when it hits the ground, Bianca.

NOBILO: Fred Pleitgen in Kyiv, thank you.

The Russian president is sharing his thoughts with Tucker Carlson. The American right-wing personality interviewed Vladimir Putin in Russia, according to a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. He said Carlson was granted the interview because his politics are not one sided. No word yet when this interview will be released.

Last year, Carlson was fired from Fox News in the fallout from a lawsuit over Fox's reporting of election conspiracy theories.

A pair of explosions has rocked the Pakistani state of Balochistan. This comes ahead of Thursday's general election there. Local officials say the first blast was at an independent candidate's office and killed 12 people. Another 10 died in a second explosion at the election office of a different candidate.

According to the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner, there have been at least 24 attacks by armed groups against candidates from various parties.

Let's take a closer look at Pakistan's election. The former Prime Minister Imran Khan is in prison and barred from taking part as the country faces mounting challenges amid economic uncertainty and frequent terror attacks. CNN's Anna Coren has more.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The aftermath of an explosion in southern Pakistan, just one of a string of attacks targeting political candidates across the country. So as the nation of more than 230 million people prepares to go to the polls, there's an air of unease.

Pakistan's widely popular former Prime Minister Imran Khan is behind bars, charged with corruption and revealing state secrets, and is banned from running in the election. He denies any wrongdoing.

After Khan was arrested by paramilitary police in May last year, his supporters took to the streets, some of them armed. What followed was an extensive crackdown by what many say was led by the country's powerful military, a claim it denied.


Protesters were detained, journalists censored. Among those jailed, social media activist Sanam Javed, a supporter of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or PTI party. The 36-year-old mother of two is facing terrorism charges, accused of inciting her thousands of followers to commit arson on the day Khan was arrested. She denies the charges.

Her father says her incarceration is an example of authorities silencing, dissenting voices.

IQBAL JAVED, FATHER OF SANAM JAVED (through translator): I know that all of this is fake and created and being done to victimize the political party of Imran Khan. This is a political case.

COREN (voice-over): Pakistan's information minister denied those claims, saying, law enforcers and prosecutors had evidence against Javed.

With the fall of Imran Khan has come the return and rise in popularity of his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif. Sharif is back in Pakistan after corruption charges led to years of self-imposed exile. He's now widely expected to win a historic fourth term.

TIM WILLASEY-WILSEY, POLITICAL ANALYST: The good prognosis is that Sharif is elected. He builds a coalition, which includes Bilawal Bhutto, and starts to run the country pragmatically. He's a pragmatist. And starts to, you know, balance relations between U.S. and China, get the economy back on track.

COREN (voice-over): Standing between Sharif and the top job is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The 35-year-old is descended from one of Pakistan's political dynasties. Yet even with Zardari's youthful appeal, many young voters have been left disillusioned by Pakistan's recent political disorder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The whole country knows that the decision has already been made.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I don't think stability will come, because I think after the elections, a lot of problems will be created.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We as the voter feel disenfranchised because even if a certain government comes into play, all governments have, we feel, disappointed us at most levels.

COREN (voice-over): Pakistan faces mounting challenges, from economic issues to climate catastrophes and militant attacks. Just last month, Pakistan and Iran carried out strikes against alleged militant targets in each other's territory, citing the threat of terrorist attacks.

For Pakistan and its people, unified government after years of uncertainty will be a must to avoid tensions spilling beyond the country's borders.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


NOBILO: Britain's Prince William has carried out his first public duty since his father's cancer diagnosis was publicly announced. The prince led an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle earlier on. No word yet, of course, on what type of cancer King Charles has or how serious it is.

Meanwhile, during the weekly session of Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament, Rishi Sunak commented on the monarch's health.


RISHI SUNAK, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: I know the thoughts of the House and the country are with the king and his family.

ALL: Yes.

SUNAK: We wish His Majesty a speedy recovery and look forward to him resuming his public facing duties in due course. Mr. Speaker, this morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.


NOBILO: Anna Stewart joins me now with some details. Anna, obviously, at this stage, we don't know more information about King Charles, his condition and its severity. It's interesting to see Prince William having to step up. This is the most prominence and responsibility that he's ever had to assume.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, he's been first in line to the throne now for less than two years. We're used to seeing Prince William in a certain role. He brings something different to the royal family, a much more casual approach than his father and his grandmother often of course, ditching a tie and he just got that more casual approach.

But then there's the other side of the job and we're seeing him having to be much more supportive now to his father, given he won't be doing public facing engagements. And this is an example of that other side of the job, much more formal. I think we've got the pictures of him at the investiture today.

You'll see him wearing the gold braids, which are known as Aiguillettes, which is part of the camp -- age of camp role to the king. So we're seeing this different side to him, and this is going to be his future. So we're seeing him step up much more, I think, into the role that will definitely be his.

And also a test of character, because you've got to remember that at the same time, he's got a wife at home who is recovering from abdominal surgery. He's just had a few weeks off to try and support her and his family, and he's just been told that his father has been diagnosed with cancer.

And on top of all that, he's actually got more work, not less, and much more, I think, of a limelight around him. People are going to be focusing on Prince William and how he handles this challenge.

NOBILO: A lot of people, you know, fairly salaciously in the context have been focused a lot on Prince Harry. But from a constitutional standpoint, is there any chance that he steps up to assist?


STEWART: Well, it's interesting that you say constitutional because I know you're something of a nerd when it comes to sort of British law and such things. I mean, constitutionally, Prince Harry, for instance, is still one of the councilors of state. So he could, you know, theoretically be appointed by King Charles if he was very ill to take on some of those roles.

I think it's highly, highly unlikely you would ever be asked to do that constitutionally. In fact, two additional people were added to the Council of State, Princess Anne and Prince Edward. So I think it's unlikely on a constitutional basis.

NOBILO: Anna Stewart, always great to see you. Thank you so much.

Still to come, Republicans in Washington spend a lot of time complaining about immigration. So why are they balking at a Senate plan to boost funding for border security?


NOBILO: A piece of political theatre didn't play out like the Republicans had planned on Tuesday. A vote to impeach Joe Biden's Homeland Security Secretary for not doing enough to stop migrants from entering the U.S. surprisingly failed when a few Republicans refused to go along with party leaders.

Policing the border is, of course, also the major topic in the Senate this week. A bipartisan bill that would boost border security and also provide funding for Ukraine and Israel seems to be dead on arrival. Donald Trump has told Republicans not to vote for the deal. Leaders of both parties are frustrated at the lack of progress.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Do you want to fix the border, or do you want to keep the border a mess in order to help Donald Trump?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There are other parts of this supplemental that are extremely important as well -- Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan. We still, in my view, ought to tackle the rest of it because it's important. Not that the border isn't important, but we can't get an outcome.


NOBILO: CNN's Lauren Fox is watching Capitol Hill for us. Lauren, there's a lot of chaos on Capitol Hill, and plenty of it is election and campaign-related on some level. Can we expect there to not be much progress and passing of important legislation until the election now?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, this is why you don't wait until the new year to pass -- must pass legislation, right? Because the election dynamics really do begin to have a massive impact in the way that lawmakers perceive vote and process legislation.

And you really saw that with this border deal. This was a hard fought negotiation over the course of several months. The bipartisan group of senators released their bill on Sunday night and by Monday night, it was really clear that the votes were not going to be there in the United States Senate to advance it.


They are still going to hold a vote today. It will fail. And then Schumer is expected to turn to a procedural act in order to try and begin the process of passing Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan aid as a separate and standalone measure without that border bill that they'd been working so hard on.

We do expect that that could get out of the United States Senate. But once it goes over to the House of Representatives, there's no telling what will happen to that aid. I don't think it's a guarantee at all that more aid to Ukraine is coming from the United States Congress.

At this time, you know, House Republicans focused yesterday on trying to impeach Mayorkas. Like you noted, they weren't able to do it, in part, because they had a math problem. They had not counted on one Democrat showing up for that vote, and their margins were so narrow in this Republican majority that they already had three Republicans voting no.

And when Al Green, a Democrat, showed up, was wheeled onto the House floor to vote, it was a surprise. And they were unable to pass the articles of impeachment and send them to the Senate. Now, they're saying that once Steve Scalise, their majority leader, returns from getting cancer treatments, they'll be able to process that on the House floor.

But it just shows you that right now, this is really a moment where it becomes about messaging. And I think that this was sort of the last opportunity lawmakers had to do something big. They do have a government funding deadline coming up in March. That's going to be another time where they will have to get something done. But after that, I think it's all election politics from here on out.

NOBILO: It's an alarming but very likely prognosis.

Lauren Fox, we really appreciate your time and your insights. Thank you.

Coming up, we'll take you to Tokyo where Taylor Swift has kicked off her Japanese tour. But will she make it on time for the Super Bowl on Sunday? That is the question there.


NOBILO: Argentinian football legend Lionel Messi delighted football lovers in Japan earlier, simply by taking to the pitch. The Inter Miami forward came on as a second half substitute in a friendly match against Japanese side Vissel Kobe.

But it seems to have rubbed salt in the wounds for Chinese fans. They showed their anger on Sunday when Messi failed to appear in his team's game in Hong Kong, saying he was injured. We'll have much, much more on that match and reaction from both sides on World Sport in a few moments time.

Taylor Swift's Eras Tour has arrived in Japan. Thousands of Swifties have filled the Tokyo Dome for opening night. Just a few days after she made history at the Grammy Awards, CNN's Hanako Montgomery has met some of her most loyal fans.



HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So long, L.A. Hello, Tokyo. After picking up her 14th Grammy in Los Angeles, international pop star Taylor Swift is now in Japan, kicking off the international leg of her record-breaking Eras Tour, much to her fans delight.

ALL: And I cried like a baby coming home from the bar, oh. Said, I'm fine but it wasn't true. I don't want to keep --


MONTGOMERY (voice-over): Amid this lavender haze, Swifties are relishing this once in a lifetime moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am super excited to see her because this is actually my first time seeing her.

MONTGOMERY: First time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my first time seeing her and just imagine, this is the very person that I grew up with. This is the very person whose music I've been listening to since 2012.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): Other Swifties say the four concerts just aren't enough.

KANA ISHLYONE, FAN: Yes, so I quit my job when she announced this Eras Tour.

MONTGOMERY: You quit your job when she announced the Eras Tour?

ISHLYONE: Yes, I did.

MONTGOMERY: Can I ask why?

ISHLYONE: Because last time, I went to six shows on her Reputation tour, but, yes, you know, it wasn't enough.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): Tens of thousands of fans lined up for souvenirs as other Swifties exchanged friendship bracelets and flaunted their heiress themed outfits.


MONTGOMERY: And Taylor Swift is bringing the fans and the big bucks to Japan. Experts that we spoke to estimate that she will generate more than $230 million for her four-day concert here in Tokyo.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): As fans from South Korea, China, New Zealand and the United States descend upon Tokyo to see their favorite pop star. They're making the most out of their Swift cations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've always wanted to go to Japan, so --



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we come in, make it count.


MONTGOMERY (voice-over): Now, the billion dollar question, will Swift make it in time to kiss her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce, before the 58th Super Bowl on Sunday? All signs point to yes, as it won't take a time machine, just a private jet.


MONTGOMERY (voice-over): But for now, Swifties in Tokyo are only worried about one thing. Dancing along with Swift, who's written the soundtrack to so many fans lives.

Hanako Montgomery, CNN, Tokyo. (END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBILO: Thanks for joining me here on CNN Newsroom. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

World Sport with Amanda Davies is up next.