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Biden's Irish Tour; Protesters Storm LVMH Luxury HQ in Paris; Person behind Pentagon Leaks Worked on Military Base; Protests in France for 12th Day; Dominion v. FOX News; Interview with Naftali Bennett, Former Israeli Prime Minister, on Judicial Overhaul Plans. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 13, 2023 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNNI HOST (voice-over): I'm Becky Anderson, live from Abu Dhabi for you and it's 6 o'clock in the evening here. This is CONNECT THE


Coming up this hour, President Biden gets set to deliver a speech to the Irish parliament.

Demonstrators in France march against government pension reform.

Explosive new details on the Pentagon leaks.

And a once in 1000 year rainfall hits Florida in the United States.


ANDERSON: For a pilgrimage freighted with political weight, Joe Biden's Irish trip may be historic but for arguably the most Irish of U.S.

Presidents, it is personal, as he gears up to address the parliament in Dublin this hour.

Mr. Biden has been telling reporters, quote, "It feels like I'm coming home."

He's also been talking to Ireland's taoiseach, prime minister Leo Varadkar one day after sitting down with Britain's PM Rishi Sunak in Belfast. Big

face-to-face meetings to be sure, marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday peace deal. But they were also brief. Let's get to CNN's Nic

Robertson live from Dublin -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, the president has not only met the Irish president, he's met the Irish prime minister as

you just mentioned but he's also met the Irish -- one of the Irish president's two dogs.

Misneach barked when the president was there, got called out by the Irish president, Michael Higgins, called out to come and meet President Joe


Look, this is really a visit that is a lot about President Biden being able to come to visit family, a lot about President Biden exploring and

reinvigorating his family roots and ties and connections to Ireland.

But it will also be when he arrives here at the (INAUDIBLE) parliament, where he'll speak to both houses of parliament together, a chance to really

elaborate and expand on the importance of the relationship between Ireland and the United States, that they see eye-to-eye on so many things,

democratic values, not least among them.

Over Ukraine, over climate, over so many issues, peacekeeping that both countries do a lot of around the world. That also, we understand, will be

will be part of the discussions the president's been having today.

Perhaps we'll hear some of that in his speech. But it will also reflect back where, we're told to expect on his trip to Northern Ireland, where he,

again, was asked today, the importance that he felt of his trip there, the 25 year -- celebrating 25 years of the anniversary of the Good Friday


And again, he reiterated what he said, that he believes that, in building on that piece, you need to uphold and get back to business on one of those

central pieces of the Good Friday agreement achieved and that is a power sharing government.

So that was his message in the North. And I think we'll hear some of that echoed today because, of course, Ireland very much engaged in that process

north of the border, trying to encourage and do what it can to facilitate in ways that it can and influence where it can to make sure that that


So a lot for the president actually to talk about in detail here. But as you say, this is, really early in the day at least, relatively light duty;

this afternoon's speech a little bit more to the to the big meat of his visit south of the border here.

ANDERSON: And as you speak, Nic, we are looking at images of President Biden with the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, watching some youngsters

playing sports, specifically. Irish sports early (ph). Thank you.

More from President Biden this hour when he addresses parliamentarians in Dublin.

A 12th day of mass protests and strikes happening across France. Earlier in Paris, protesters vented their frustration against a pension reform bill by

forcing their way into the headquarters of LVMH, the owners of the iconic luxury brand, Louis Vuitton.

They are hitting out against symbols of wealth as unions say the rich should be taxed more to help fund the pension system. All of this, of

course, comes a day before the constitutional council is to set to rule on the bill that would raise the retirement age by two years.


ANDERSON: Nada Bashir is joining us live from London.

Look, we've known about this bill now for some time, it is extremely contentious. These now the 12th day of protests, not just in Paris but

across France.

What are you hearing and seeing where you are?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, there has been a huge turnout as you can see behind me, the crowd streaming in. I'll just step away just a

second so you can take a look at the crowds.

But I mean, this is a significant turnout. The authorities say they are anticipating up to 600,000 people across the country to participate in

these demonstrations. (INAUDIBLE) the last 12 weeks we have seen people taking to the streets in Paris and protests against this pension reform.

And there has been some violence in some of these protests, pockets of violence. Certainly already seeing some scuffles toward the constitutional

council, where these protesters will be streaming past in the next couple of minutes.

And of course, we've seen in the last few weeks some protesters using smoke bombs, flares and paints (ph) against the riot police, which has been

heavily mobilized. Again, the authorities say more than 4,000 police officers will be deployed to the street here in the capital with tear gas

now being discussed toward the front of the march in order to disperse the crowds.

Of course, the big decision will be tomorrow, the constitutional council coming to a decision on the legality of pension reform, the decision to

raise the pension age, the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Now it is anticipated that call (ph) will go through, will be (INAUDIBLE) the constitutional council could come to a decision to only approve aspects

of that reform. So we'll wait and see what that decision will be. It's likely there will be further (INAUDIBLE) protests tomorrow.

(INAUDIBLE) the final moment, many members of the trade unions here from many protesters have their voices heard. The constitutional council comes

it's been going on 12 weeks now. (INAUDIBLE) a significant amount of this is aimed at restrictions and even anger being directed toward president

Emmanuel Macron for the government's decision to push this legislation through, to use executive powers to get the legislation across the line

without going through the lower house of parliament without a final vote.

There is a significant amount of anger (ph). We're seeing protesters through all age groups taking part in these demonstrations. And we've

already heard from one of the larger unions here in France, saying that, regardless of the constitutional council decision, whether or not it

greenlights this legislation, they will continue to protest in some form or other (INAUDIBLE) legislation is passed. Becky.

ANDERSON: And as you speak, Nada, thank you, we are looking at rather more violent scenes in another part of Paris as Nada explained. She's in the

middle of these protests, a lot more peaceful than the scenes we are seeing at the front here.

And we've had now for some days as we've moved through these 12 days' worth of protests. Allegations that there are anarchists, a group known as the

Black Bloc associated at the front of these ofttimes.

And you see the police there in riot gear, trying to deal with those who are protesting in -- let's describe it as a more aggressive way on the

streets of Paris. So a quite diverse group protesting these pension reforms. These are, of course, contentious reforms, raising the age of

retirement from 62 to 64.

You see here and there, clearly shops on the streets of Paris, anticipating that this was going to get rather ugly, as we see it is boarding them --

boarding their windows up in anticipation of that.

So a long day. It's mid afternoon there in Paris, a long -- a long day and we expect it to be a rather long evening in Paris. We will continue to keep

an eye on what is going there. We've got reporters on the ground and we'll get you back to that, just as soon as we can. Paris for you today at just

after 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The protests continue into a 12th day.

Zeroing in on the Pentagon leaker, the U.S. President says his government is close to working out who might be responsible for putting highly

classified military intelligence on social media. Take a listen to what Joe Biden said just in the past few hours while he has been in Dublin in



QUESTION: Mr. President, could you give an update on that leak investigation, the leaked documents --


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can't right now. There is a full blown investigation going on, as you know with the intelligence

(INAUDIBLE) the Justice Department. And they're getting close.



ANDERSON: All this comes as "The Washington Post" newspaper has reported details of its own. Natasha Bertrand is at the Pentagon with the very


And just explain what we know at this point and also what this social media platform, Discord, which is where we saw this information disseminated,

actually is.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so this is a social media platform where people can chat with each other about games, about

their daily lives. Really it's kind of like a messaging platform.

And gamers, online gamers tend to gravitate toward it. But what we're learning is that "The Washington Post" actually found a member of the

server where those classified documents have been posted over the last several months.

And that member of the server told "The Post" that he knows the identity of the person who has allegedly been leaking the documents. And according to

this friend, he does describe him as a friend, this person was someone who worked at a military base. At least that is what they told the members of

this group.

And it's someone who had access, of course, to these highly sensitive documents and viewed them really all day in a sensitive facility before

going back to the server in the evening and sharing photos of these documents with this group.

Now this group was made up of about 24 different members, ranging in age from young teenagers to men in their early 20s. And it was really a

community of individuals who have found each other during the pandemic and really commiserated about all things having to do with the government.

This person who posted these documents was apparently very suspicious of the intelligence community and the military and he wanted to post these

documents in order to show his friends on this platform basically what he knew about what the government was up to.

Now one of the members of this server did give an interview to "The Washington Post," a video interview, though his face is blurred. And he

revealed a little bit more about how this group was bound together. Here's what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was -- he was a young, charismatic man, who loved nature, God, who loved shooting guns and racing cars. He did see himself as

the leader of this group and ultimately he was the leader of this group.

And he wanted us all to be sort of super soldiers to some degree, informed, fit, with God, well armed, stuff like that.


BERTRAND: So this friend also told "The Post" that this leaker would get very angry when members of the group ignored him and didn't respond. And we

should also note that this group included foreigners, included members from Ukraine and Russia as well as from Latin America, Asia.

You know, these are documents that were marked specifically no foreign nationals. So the fact that some of them may have seen these documents will

be very concerning to the U.S. government -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Natasha, thank you very much indeed.

We are keeping one eye on what is going on in Paris, viewers, just that you know. I mean, there are -- there are some quite aggressive and violent

protests going on.

Can we just bring those pictures back up and just keep an eye on what is going on?

Let's bring those pictures back up here.

OK. The streets of Paris, 12 minutes past 4:00 in the afternoon, protesters across Paris today. And a very diverse group. And what you're seeing here a

very violent scene, a lot of tear gas. The police in riot gear, pushing back protesters.

The protesters sort of pushing on once again. Other parts of Paris you are seeing less aggressive scenes and very much -- this is -- this is my

colleague, Fred Pleitgen, reporting momentarily just moments ago from the streets.

This again another part of Paris today. We are keeping an eye on what is going on there, waiting to hear whether we hear anything from the

president, Emmanuel Macron. Of course, these protests in response to very controversial reform law on pensions, raising the age from 62 to 64.

The unions and union members out in force. What you see here, actually not necessarily members of unions; they're often -- those who are members often

have colored jackets on. And let's just stick on these pictures and have a listen in to what we are hearing and seeing for a moment for you.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Paris midafternoon today, the 13th of April. Protesters have been blocking the approaches to the constitutional council

of France. And that is where tomorrow the council is set to announce a decision on the compliance of the pension reform with the law.

This really the final opportunity for those protesting that reform to voice their opinion. And as I say, you know, we've got a sort of split screen

opportunity today, some peaceful but defiant protesters on the streets of Paris.

And then some very ugly scenes between other protesters and the authorities. The police will very much keep an eye on this for you and keep

you bang up to date on what is going on. Protests across France. We are concentrating our efforts just for the time being for you on these scenes

in Paris.

Well, China says its imposing a six-hour ban this coming Sunday on maritime vessels in an area north of Taiwan. It says the reason is a possibility of

falling rocket debris. And Taiwan's transport ministry says Beijing is planning to impose a no-fly zone in that vicinity.

This coming after three days of Chinese military drills around Taiwan that have put the self-governed island on the defensive. Will Ripley with more

from Taipei for you.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China may be one step closer to attacking Taiwan, staging massive military

exercises miles off the Taiwan East Coast.

Senior defense officials in Taipei say 12 Chinese warships surrounded the island simulating a sea and air blockade for the second time in eight


Taiwan's military says three days of war games reveal rapid progress by the Chinese navy. What appeared to be the first ever simulations of aircraft

carrier strikes, with a highly advanced J-15 fighter fleet China calls the Flying Shark.

In the Taiwan Strait, China's Shandong aircraft carrier launched 80 fighter jet missions and 40 helicopter flights.

The drills came with an ominous warning China's military is ready to fight.

The Taiwanese military issuing a strong condemnation, saying it does not seek to escalate but is determined to safeguard its sovereignty.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR-CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Is Beijing, in your view, threatening Taiwan with war?


RIPLEY (voice-over): Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu speaking exclusively to CNN, condemning China's military moves. Menacing imagery

shows a barrage of ballistic missiles aimed at the island.

China launched real missiles over Taiwan for the first time last year.

WU: Look at the military sizes -- exercises and also their rhetoric. There seems to be trying to get ready to launch a war against Taiwan.

RIPLEY (voice-over): China calls the drills "a serious warning against the Taiwan separatist forces' collusion with external forces and a necessary

move to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

China's exercises, like similar drills last August, followed high- profile meetings with U.S. House Speakers Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan, Kevin McCarthy in

California. Meetings the foreign minister calls crucial to counter decades of diplomatic isolation by Beijing.

WU: China cannot dictate how Taiwan make friends. And China cannot dictate how our friends want to show support for Taiwan.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Support including nine rounds of weapons sales to the island under the Biden administration alone.

U.S. intelligence believes the People's Liberation Army is acting on orders from President Xi Jinping himself. The PLA told to be ready by 2027 to take

Taiwan by force. One U.S. general claiming it could happen even sooner.

In 2025, two years from now, a war that could involve the U.S. and its allies as this fragile island democracy fights to fend off a future Chinese

attack. And next time, it may not be a drill -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


ANDERSON: Right. Still ahead, travelers stranded, schools closed and highways turning into waterways. We are live in Florida, which is in the

grip of extreme flooding.

And jury selection begins in Dominion Voting Systems' defamation lawsuit against FOX News. Why the judge said he's ready to appoint a special master

in the trial.


ANDERSON (voice-over): And keeping an eye for you on what is going on in Paris on what is the 12th day of protests against this very controversial

pension reform. Back with you after this short break.




ANDERSON: Right, keeping you across what is going on in Paris today. One of a number of scenes that we have coming in to CNN; a 12th day of

protests. Smoke bombs, projectiles, tear gas has been used on the streets today during these protests.

Not all of the protesters have been violent. And the police ranging against some. These pictures relatively calm as we see them although you do see

some smoke canisters being used just to the back side of that shot.

We've also got very peaceful protesters marching in defiance of the government's decision to raise the pension age from 62 to 64. The council,

primed with getting that legislation through, will meet tomorrow. This is the last chance, really, the dying embers of these protests ahead of that

council meeting on Friday.

More on this as we move through the next couple of hours on this show. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. It is 23 minutes

past 6 here in the UAE. This show coming to you from your Middle East programming hub here on CNN.

Well a jury selection underway in Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation trial against FOX News. Ahead of that, the judge sanctioned FOX

attorneys for withholding evidence from Dominion and said he'd appoint a special master to determine if FOX deliberately hid key evidence.

This trial stems from FOX's demotion of debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. FOX denies any wrongdoing. CNN's Marshall

Cohen is watching developments for us outside the courthouse where that trial is happening.

And just for the benefit of our viewers, who may not be as up to speed as those in the U.S. are about this trial, just remind us what's at stake


What's going on?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, after the 2020 election, when Donald Trump lost, FOX News put people on its programs, on its shows, who

promoted the false claim, the lie that a voting machine company called Dominion rigged the election and flipped millions of votes from Donald

Trump to Joe Biden.


COHEN: That was a lie. It was never true and Dominion sued FOX for defamation. They want $1.6 billion. They filed the lawsuit in 2021. Here we

are today in Wilmington, Delaware, where jury selection is finally underway. The trial is kicking off.

Jurors in the courthouse behind me are being questioned. They are being asked about their news consumption habits, whether they can be fair and

impartial. The stakes are very high. FOX could end up paying a lot of money if they are found liable in this case.

But of course, they say, they've done nothing wrong. FOX News say they've - - they're incredibly proud still of their coverage from 2020. They think they're going to win this case. It's a huge battle over the First Amendment

in a huge part of American constitutional law.

Jury selection here might spill into tomorrow. Opening statements scheduled for Monday and, Becky, the trial is probably going to last as long as six

weeks. It's not going away.

ANDERSON: Marshall, thank you, concise and full of what we needed to hear. Thank you, sir.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now.

And Qatar and Bahrain are resuming diplomatic relations after five years. It's been two years since the Arab boycott on Qatar was lifted. This

decision comes just out ere the Arab League summit scheduled for May.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia hosted Syria's foreign minister in Jeddah on Wednesday. The Saudis supported opposition forces early in Syria's civil

war. But it recently joined other Arab states to push for normalization with the Syrian president, Bashar al Assad.

In Iran, authorities say they have arrested dozens of people who planned to poison students. Girls' schools across the country have seen a wave of

suspected poisonings in recent months. Keeping an eye on that for you.

Sudan's army warning a powerful paramilitary group to stand down or face confrontation. A military official said the rapid support forces, some

mobilization is increasing tensions and is in violation of the law. The group has worked with Sudan's military to carry out two coups but their

relations have worsened.

ANDERSON: Right. Taking a very short break. Coming up, former Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett joins us live on the show. More on that

after this.





ANDERSON: Right. Welcome back, folks. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. The time here is just before half past

6:00 in the evening.

At one point, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, promised to have his controversial judicial overhaul bill passed. He has since backed down

from that promise after protests brought the country to a standstill.

But he only kicked the can down the road, agreeing to wait until after the Passover holiday to resume discussions over the legislation. Well, this, of

course, is the last day of Passover and Israelis are looking to see what happens now.

The plans have deeply divided the country and drawn international condemnation. My next guest calling for the current government to find a

solution. Naftali Bennett is the former Israeli prime minister, who ousted Benjamin Netanyahu back in 2021, leading quite a diverse government that

included representatives from both religious and secular communities.

But most noticeable of all -- or notable of all, for the first time in Israel's history, an Arab party joined his coalition. Naftali Bennett joins

me now live from New York.

And it's so good to have you with us. As we mentioned, your government was relatively diverse. It has to be said for the first time in Israel's

history an Arab party joined your coalition at the time.

Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the end of your government, calling it the worst in Israeli history.

Given the response that his own right wing, right religious government has had by both people in Israel and around the world, some calling it the

worst in Israel's history, how would you -- how do you reflect on his comments about your own?

NAFTALI BENNETT, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, what we're seeing here is democracy in action. And the obviously, political opponents make

accusations. I think now it's almost common knowledge that the government that I led was one of the most effective governments in Israel's history.

I inherited a declining economy and brought it up to 8 percent growth, the highest in the world. I gave the quietest and most secure period, year in

the in 20 years for the area of Gaza and southern Israel.

And what we really did was proved ourselves and the world that folks who have very different opinions can actually work together well if there's

enough good faith. Right now, the -- Israel indeed is an internal crisis regarding our constitution and the very future and soul of Israel.

ANDERSON: Many have described that current Israeli government and its right wing policies -- and some describing those as the right religious

policies -- as the worst thing ever to happen to Israel, I repeat, both domestically and internationally.

Do you agree?

BENNETT: Well, I don't want to criticize my government, even if I have disagreements with them. What I would tell the public that's watching us,

that what you're seeing now in Israel is democracy in action. It's one of the messiest periods in the history of Israel but also one of the most

beautiful periods in the history of Israel.

Because millions of Israelis are out demonstrating for freedom, for democracy. And we saw other countries around the world that declined

gradually into a loss of democracy. Well, Israel is showing an example of a country that is fighting.

And I can say with full confidence here, democracy in Israel will prevail.

ANDERSON: Recently you said the composition of your government wasn't right.

Is the composition of this government a good thing for Israel or not?

I am putting you on the spot here, sir.

BENNETT: No, that's OK. That's your job.

The real composition that we need in Israel is a unity government of both right and left, Jews, Arabs, religious and secular. We need a centrist

government that will fight primarily polarization and the radicals on both sides.

I feel that and believe that the overwhelming majority of Israelis, roughly 70 percent of Israelis, will agree on 70 percent of the issues. And we need

to focus on those issues because we're not going to solve the extreme issues. And that's exactly what my government did. And I'm optimistic that

we can do that again.

ANDERSON: What do you make of this judicial reform?

How much of it do you want to see pass and what part of this judicial reform, which is currently only suspended --


ANDERSON: -- Benjamin Netanyahu by no means has said he's going to, you know, rescind on putting it in front of parliament.

What do you want to see out this judicial reform?

And what do you believe genuinely crosses the line, which would mean that they, Israel no longer had any checks and balances?

Let's be quite clear about this.

Where are your red lines?

BENNETT: Yes, absolutely. Well, I'd say that the overwhelming majority of Israelis agree on two things: first, that we needed judicial reform.

People agree that the Supreme Court has gradually usurped authorities away from the executive and in a wrongful way and also agree that the supreme

constitutional court of Israel is a bit of a closed club that clones itself.

And instead it needs to pretty much, you know, reflect the diversity of opinions in Israel. Therefore, if we take those two principles, what we

would need is, well, the second principle, of course, is that we need to our achieve any reform in consensus.

He can't shove it down the throat of the other side. So we agree we need a reform but we also agree that we need to achieve it in consensus. So I

would say, yes, a gradual change in the way we select and appoint supreme court judges, also do it in a more transparent way.

And, secondly, set a clearer barrier between the judicial branch and the executive branch in Israel but by no means would we allow to remove checks

and balances.

ANDERSON: Right. I wanted to hear what your thoughts were on the removal of checks and balances. It's important that we allowed you to make that


You recently called Israel's government -- called on Israel's government, this current government -- and I quote you here -- "not to act power


What did you mean by that?

BENNETT: Well, what I mean is that Israel has a very diverse population. We have religious and secular, ultra orthodox; we have Arabs, Jews; we've

got it all. And while the Right indeed got 64 votes out of 120.

So as a solid majority, what you don't want to do is to overreach. And I think prime minister Netanyahu now understands that they overreached, both

in the tone and the content of their actions, which is why he basically trimmed off 90 percent of the original reform and even diluted the 10

percent that's left.

So what we need now in Israel is not to pull to the extremes. We don't want to pull to the extreme left or extreme right. We want to stay central

around our security, our economy, around making life work in Israel between these various populations.

ANDERSON: You dissolved your government after your coalition effectively fell apart.

Do you genuinely believe that this current government, which is the most right-leaning in Israel's history, is good for the country?

I mean, Benjamin Netanyahu has always been in a position where he's had, you know, some wiggle room, some maneuverability between right and left. To

a certain extent, he doesn't have that facility, as far as most experts can see now.

Is this a government that that should be running Israel at this point?

I want your personal perspective on this.

BENNETT: No, we need a centrist government with the Likud, with Lapid and Gantz and then the others, because the challenges that are facing Israel

right now are huge. We've got Iran, who's joining forces with other countries around the area and is instigating terror everywhere, like an

octopus of terror.

We have weakening relations in the region. We have an economy that's now in crisis, even though I left a very growing high tech economy. We need to fix

all of this. It can only be done from the center. It can only be done in a bipartisan manner.

I've become a big believer in moderacy; in fact, I'm a radical moderate in terms of how to do things. My opinions still are right of center. But it's

not about the actions. It's about the tone and about bringing people together and being able to identify common ground and get those things


ANDERSON: Right. Well, Israel's relationship with its allies in the West and right here in the Middle East have been --


ANDERSON: -- let's be quite frank -- seriously damaged under this new government and many saying that your enemies are rubbing their hands with

glee at present.

You, a few weeks back, were here in the UAE where I am. And you met with the country's leader shortly after Israel and the UAE activated a major

economic partnership agreement.

Those images that we see on our screens now are certainly images with the leader of this country, that Benjamin Netanyahu would rather have been in

than you. He is still yet to be invited to the UAE.

Do you worry about the impact on the Abraham accords, on the normalization that Israel has got with some Arab countries?

Do you worry that that could end, should the problems that Israel sees today continue?

BENNETT: I believe that the Abraham accords are here to stay. However, I do agree that we have to get out of this domestic crisis ASAP because we're

losing time. I think the whole region views Israel as a anchor of stability, of democracy, of strength against Iran.

During my term, according to foreign sources, Israel had hit Iran very aggressively in -- on Iranian territory in response to various terror acts

around the region. And I think that garners a lot of respect.

But we need to fix our own situation. What I would say to our enemies, I think they're misinterpreting Israel. They view the current crisis as

weakness. In fact, it's not weakness. The Israel is the Jewish state. The Jews are a nation of debate. That's in our bones. It's a sign of strength.

It's not a sign of weakness.

You know, days ahead of the Six Day War, there were also very tough debates in Israel, yet we came out victorious. Israel is very strong. So I wouldn't

recommend any of our enemies to try us out at this point.

ANDERSON: Naftali Bennett, you are no -- currently not still working in the political realm.

Do you want a rollback in politics in Israel?

Do you want to lead the country once again?

BENNETT: Well, I enjoy life. I enjoy my family. I missed my family for the past 12 years in politics. I anticipate that whatever task or mission there

is for the good of the state of Israel, I'll be there.

ANDERSON: So you are looking for a way back in.

BENNETT: Becky, that was a very political way to dodge your question.


ANDERSON: With that, I'll leave it there.

Make of it what you will, folks.

Naftali Bennett, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

Want to return to France now, where the country is seeing a fresh round of nationwide protests against pension reform. Protesters and police have been

facing off in these streets. Garbage workers are on strike. And the unions say they will not stop until president Emmanuel Macron's pension reform law

is withdrawn.

Let's get you Fred Pleitgen. He joins us live from Paris.

The scenes -- certainly I can hear it's noisy. Explain to me what you are seeing, what's going on around you, Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Becky. It's been noisy and it's been violent at time. We have seen some

pretty big clashes over the past 30 to 40 minutes.

You can see, if you pan over here into that street, that you do have riot police contingent right there. That's in the waiting. They've sort of gone

back a little bit. But you do see intermittently the riot police charging forward.

We have seen some tear gas being deployed by the police. We have seen rocks being thrown. We've seen paint bags being thrown, all sorts of things that

have happened here over the last 30 minutes ago.

Right now, we're sort of in a lull again. But certainly, as you pointed out, you're absolutely correct. The situation here is one that is very

tense. You can feel the friction in the air at all times. And you can feel the anger here on the street at Emmanuel Macron and his government.

And I think one of the interesting things that we see -- if you pan around again, you can see that the folks who have come out here, a lot of them are

very young.

And I think that that's certainly shows that, for a lot of these people, it is obviously about this pension reform that Emmanuel Macron is trying to

push through the legislative process here, that raises the retirement age to 64.

But it's also very much about the way that he did it, using executive powers to essentially try and bypass a full vote in parliament and

essentially putting this as a fait accompli, if you will, in front of the electorate. And they're showing that they are not happy.


PLEITGEN: His approval ratings have obviously plummeted. As you can see, a lot of people coming out here on the street to voice their anger at the way

all of this has been conducted. And certainly we can see that from Emmanuel Macron, the way that he is being perceived by a lot of people.

And some of the signs that you see here, the chants that you hear, it becomes pretty clear that this is about the pension reform first and

foremost. But it's about a lot more than that.


Fred, thank you.

Fred Pleitgen on the streets of Paris for you.

We are watching, viewers, President Joe Biden. Any minute now he's expected to address Ireland's parliament. We will bring you that as soon as it


Before meeting with two Irish leaders earlier, Mr. Biden told reporters that being back home in Ireland feels like, well, being back home. On

Friday, he is set to visit County Mayo and the town of Ballina, where his great-great-great-grandfather came from. Our very own Donie O'Sullivan is

there and he joins us live.

What's the atmosphere there ahead of the U.S. President's visit, Donie?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: A lot of excitement here, Becky. As you say, this is a sort of homecoming for Joe Biden. He is going to

deliver a speech tomorrow night just outside the church here behind me.

And there's already a lot of excitement and anticipation building on the keys of the river here. He'll, as you mentioned, he is about to address any

minute now a joint sitting of the Irish parliament in Dublin.

Tonight he will be attending a state banquet at Dublin Castle and then tomorrow he will travel across the country to here, to County Mayo on

Ireland's west coast on the Atlantic Coast.

And he's going to learn -- he's actually going to visit a heritage center here, learn about his family history. His, as you mentioned, great-great-

great-grandfather left from this town in the 19th century, soon after the Irish potato famine.

He's also going to visit Knock Shrine, which is a Roman Catholic pilgrimage site, here since the 19th century. And then, of course, the big event

tomorrow night, along with some musical acts, he will be appearing here in Ballina.

ANDERSON: It's a bit of a mutual love-in, really, isn't it, because as much as the U.S. President talks about his roots, so the people of the city

where you are and in other parts of Ireland are really very fond of the U.S. President and I'm told very fondly of him and his journeys to Ireland.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, and, you know, despite whatever his approval ratings might be in the United States, people here saying, you know, if the U.S.

President wants to feel popular, they should come visit Ireland.

President Kennedy started this tradition. He was, of course, the United States' first Catholic president. He came here 60 years ago this year,

actually, and traced his family roots.

And since then we have seen multiple U.S. Presidents -- Reagan; Nixon came back as well. And also, of course, Obama about 10 years ago, tracing their


So you're right. It's a totally -- this kind of mutual love affair between U.S. Presidents and Ireland. Of course, so much Irish immigration to United

States over the centuries. And last night we were on the east coast of Ireland in County Louth in a town called Dundalk.

Thousands of people there in the wet and rain, wet rain and wind, lined up for hours just to get a glimpse of the president. So big welcome here for


ANDERSON: Good stuff. All right.

Well, listen, we're going to take a very short break. Waiting on Joe Biden, the U.S. President, who will address those gathered in Ireland's

parliament. Shortly back with more, right after this. Stay with us.





ANDERSON: Well, things on the streets of Paris today, protests now in their 12th day across France. This is Paris at just before 5 o'clock in the

afternoon and relative calm. We've seen pockets of violence as demonstrators clash with armed police during the afternoon.

Earlier protesters venting their frustration against a pension reform bill by forcing their way into headquarters of LVMH, the owners of the iconic

luxury brand Louis Vuitton. And some demonstrators hitting out against symbols of wealth as unions say the rich should be taxed more to help fund

the pension system.

The government's argument, of course, is that the pension system is underfunded and, therefore, they need to raise the age that you take a

pension in France from 62 to 64.

This all coming a day before the constitutional council is set to rule on the bill that would raise that retirement age by two years. We'll get you

to our correspondent on the streets of Paris just as soon as we can.

Let's get you a bit of background on how we have got to where we are today in France.





ANDERSON: Right. Let's get you back to Paris. Fairly intense scenes in some parts of the city; more calm in others. This is Paris just before 5

o'clock in the afternoon. And protesters here demonstrating for the 12th day, as they continue to rail against Emmanuel Macron's proposed reforms to

the pension.

Twelfth day of protests; the council debating this bill will meet tomorrow. So many demonstrators feel rightly perhaps that these are the sort of dying

embers of their opportunity to protest. Nada Bashir is joining us live from Paris.

And Nada, just explain where you are and what you are seeing and hearing.

BASHIR: Well, look, Becky, went toward the very end of the mall and I have to say it's a little peaceful and calmer in this portion of the (INAUDIBLE)

toward the front, where we have already seen some stumbles and tension between the police and protesters.

And I have to take where we've been for the majority of the march today, it almost feels like the atmosphere was a festival of carnival to have

(INAUDIBLE) and high spirits, despite the frustration.

And behind them, they have told the government reforms against the decision by president Emmanuel Macron's government to bypass the lower house of

parliament, using that executive power to push the legislation through without a final vote.

There is certainly a lot of frustration and the other (INAUDIBLE) you've seen Fred reporting from the front of this. We have seen this scuffles

taking place. Paris believes already reporting some arrests have been carried out.

We've seen tear gas being used toward the front of the march flying at the police, who have heavily mobilized at least 4,000 police officers on the

streets in Paris today. They are taking part in riot gear, using tear gas to disperse the crowd.

This is expected to carry on for a couple more hours (INAUDIBLE) and there could be further violence and tension later on today, of course everyone

focusing on the decision tomorrow to be taken by the constitutional council on the legality of this legislation.

ANDERSON: Nada, thank you.

We're going to take a very short break. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. We are waiting on the U.S. President. Joe Biden's

in Dublin. He will address those gathered in the Irish parliament at any minute now. And we will get you to that when it happens. CONNECT THE WORLD

continues after this short break. Stay with us.