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Inside Israel's Shadowy Desert Prison; U.S. State Department to Report to Congress On Israel's Conduct in Gaza; Testimony Back Underway in Trump Hush Money Trial; U.N. General Assembly Debates Palestinian Membership Bid; From a Potential Deal in Gaza to Israeli Tanks Rolling into Rafah. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired May 10, 2024 - 10:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECTED THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome to our second hour of the show. I am Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi.

This hour the United Nations General Assembly is holding a vote on a resolution to upgrade Palestine to the status of a full member of the U.N.

It is widely seen as symbolic, but could have an impact on the post-war reconstruction of Gaza.

And Israel's prime minister says the country will fight with its fingernails if it has to after U.S. President Biden threatened to hold back

some weapons shipments.

Plus Donald Trump now back in court after Stormy Daniels' explosive testimony this week.

Well, we want to begin this second hour of CONNECT THE WORLD with a CNN exclusive. Stark accusations. The Palestinian detainees have been abused by

Israeli troops and these are claims coming from inside Israel's military. The accusations surround a shadowy detention facility in the Negev Desert.

Three Israeli whistleblowers who have worked at the prison are describing a systemic pattern of abuse that includes sensory deprivation, beatings, and

torture. They tell CNN they are speaking out now as a matter of conscience.

CNN chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance has our exclusive report.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a place the Israeli military doesn't want us to see.

How many Palestinians are there in there right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you? Give me please now.

CHANCE: Hang on. What is it you want? My camera or my card?

(Voice-over): But CNN has gained exclusive evidence of Palestinian prisoner abuse from multiple Israeli whistleblowers. At the Sde Teiman facility in

Southern Israel we joined human rights activists amid growing public concern for the detainees being held inside.

This is a protest by Israeli citizens outside a detention center close to Gaza, where we know hundreds of Palestinians have been held. You can see

it's a closed military facility. It's behind the barbed wire fence. We're not permitted access.

(Voice-over): And this hostility from passersby.

We just had somebody drive past in a car and they shouted out to us in Hebrew, you're defending murderers.


CHANCE: You're defending --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, we're defending basic human rights.

CHANCE (voice-over): And eyewitnesses are now speaking out. Away from the military facility near the beaches of Tel Aviv, one young Israeli army

reservist agreed to speak about scores of detainees at Sde Teiman he says are kept in cages or pens, constantly shackled and blindfolded many for

weeks on end. We've hidden his identity and voice to shield him from prosecution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were told they are not allowed to move and must sit up right. They are not allowed to talk or peek under

their blindfolds.

CHANCE: And what happened if they if they did do that? What kind of punishments were rooted out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were allowed to pick out problematic people and punish them. Having them stand with their hands

above their heads for an unlimited time. If they didn't keep their hands up, we could zip tie them to the fence.

CHANCE (voice-over): The Israeli military says detainees a handcuffed based on their risk level and health status. But the account tallies with

photographic evidence obtained by CNN of Palestinian detainees inside Sde Teiman. And with hand and wrist injuries shown to CNN by dozens of

Palestinians, released back into Gaza.


We're zip-tied and blindfolded, says this former detainee, and tortured in a way I never imagined. One source telling us the restraints were so tight

they had to amputate a man's hand.

The view that I've heard expressed is that you know, how do you think Israeli hostages are treated by Hamas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This sentiment was voiced in the facility, but I think that if Hamas is so abominable, which I agree with,

then why use Hamas as a bar? It's a descent into dehumanization.

CHANCE (voice-over): A descent that's accelerated. Since the rampage by Hamas on October 7th last year, the killing and abduction to Gaza of

hundreds of Israelis provoked outrage and a brutal response. Amid Israel's wrath, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed, and thousands

detained for interrogation. Transported to facilities like Sde Teiman where one Israeli guard now tells CNN prisoners are routinely beaten.

We've hidden his identity and voice, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You can take them out and hit them maybe four or five times with a club. It's not dying in the face so you

don't see blood. The detainees lie belly down, being hit and kicked, people screaming, and dogs barking at them. It's terrifying. Some detainees are

taken away and beaten really hard. So bones and teeth are broken.

CHANCE: So you saw people who are subject to these beatings or had their bones broken and who had their teeth broken?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes. It's a practice which commanders know about. They want intelligence, but they also want revenge

and punishment for what happened on October 7th.

CHANCE (voice-over): The Israeli military hasn't approved CNN's requests for access to Sde Teiman. But at the gates of the facility we challenged

the Israeli guards.

How many Palestinians are in there right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I prefer not to answer it.

CHANCE: I see. Do you know if they're handcuffed? Are they being blindfolded?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a facility.

CHANCE: As we leave, masked soldiers approached.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. How are you?

CHANCE: I'm filming this way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot film --


CHANCE: We'll leave now but the army so if you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you guys?



CHANCE (voice-over): They tried to take our cameras.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me please now. Give me please now.

CHANCE: Hang on, what is it that you want? My camera or my card?

(Voice-over): Then ordered us to leave.

Well, we're driving now to meet one Israeli with personal experience at the Sde Teiman facility. It's experience that he says has left him shocked at

the condition and the medical treatment of Palestinian detainees there.

(Voice-over): He told us he treated Palestinian detainees with gunshot wounds, fresh from the war zone in Gaza, and was appalled at the lack of

equipment and expertise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The problem is Gazans who are brought in are labeled as terrorists and it is very popular opinion over

here that terrorists deserve to die. So they do not deserve the same medical care as everyone else.

CHANCE: Satellite imagery obtained by CNN shows how the Sde Teiman facility was expanded after the October 7th attacks with detention facilities and

makeshift medical bays being added after public hospitals in Israel refused to treat injured Gazan suspects. Eyewitness accounts described a field

hospital with 15 to 20 patients virtually naked and blindfolded with hands and feet shackled to their beds, and wearing diapers.

What eyewitness told CNN painful procedures were carried out by underqualified medics, treatment the medical worker told us amounts to


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): In my view, it's the idea of total vulnerability. If you imagine being unable to move, being unable to see

what's going on, that's something that borders if not crosses into psychological torture.

CHANCE: The Israeli military says prisoners are stripped for security checks and that investigations are opened when there's suspicion of

misconduct. Still, accounts from Israelis and Palestinians inside and the shocking images paint a disturbing picture.


ANDERSON: And Matthew Chance joins us now.

Matthew, what's been the IDF response to this?

CHANCE: Well, of course, Becky, before we put these allegations to where we sort of gave the Israeli military a heads up and asked for their response

and they gave us quite a detailed reply.


Much of it has been reflected in the report that you just heard. But it basically boils down to this, that any actions the Israelis take that they

do it for security purposes and they say that none of the things they do to detainees violate either Israeli or international law. But I think what's

really interesting about this investigation that it's Israelis, Israeli citizens, who were increasingly disputing that.

Remember, you know, the whistleblowers that we spoke to in this report are not sort of pro-Palestinian protesters. They're not the kind of people that

we've been seeing, for instance, you know, protesting on campuses across the United States and elsewhere in Europe and elsewhere. These are Israeli

citizens, they're people who have served, who are serving with the Israeli military or alongside the Israeli military in Gaza.

And they're increasingly uncomfortable with what they've been asked to do and so I think it could have real resonance inside Israel.

ANDERSON: Yes, I wonder what the political implications of this are?

CHANCE: Well, we'll see, but I think clearly the fact that Israelis are speaking out points to a much broader debate that's taking place inside

Israel itself. I mean, there's already a great deal of concern inside the country about whether the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is placing too

much emphasis on, for instance, destroying Hamas instead of recovering the hostages from inside Gaza, the Israelis that are still being held there by

Hamas and other militant groups.

And this is another sort of iteration of that. You know, many Israelis asking the question about whether the country has sort of stepped over its

own moral boundaries, you know, in the aftermath and in the response to October 7th, the Hamas attacks then.

ANDERSON: Good to have you, Matthew. Thank you very much indeed.

And there is a detailed account from Matthew and his team. The investigative teams reporting on that detention center. And CNN Digital

with more stark details of what whistleblowers say has been going on inside. Do use the Web site for that and all the latest on the war in Gaza

and of course the other major stories from this region and around the world.

Well, the United Nations says conditions in Gaza have reached, quote, "even more unprecedented levels of emergency." A U.N. official in Rafah cites the

closure of vital aid crossings and the nearly 110,000 people who have fled Rafah since Israel's evacuation order Monday now moving north into areas

aid officials say are simply not suitable for human habitation. Satellite photos show the tent city in Rafah literally shrinking out of sight.

And there are new concerns about whether Israel will launch a full-scale ground operation in Rafah after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to

go it alone if necessary. Now his comments, of course, followed U.S. President Joe Biden's public ultimatum that he would halt some weapons

shipments if a full-scale operation happens. Joe Biden to date has described what the Israelis are doing in Rafah as a limited operation.

Well, the U.N. Security Council is issuing a new warning today about a possible all-out assault on Rafah. Take a listen.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS, SECRETARY GENERAL: A massive ground attack in Rafah would lead to an epic humanitarian disaster and pull the

plug on our efforts to support people as famine looms.


ANDERSON: Well, amid that backlash over Mr. Biden's ultimatum on American weapons to Israel, we've now got information on a highly anticipated U.S.

report regarding Israel's conduct in this Gaza conflict and whether it has violated international humanitarian law.

Now, the Secretary of State Antony Blinken will report to Congress possibly as soon as today that Israel did not violate the terms for its use of

American weapons in Gaza.

That is certainly according to our CNN contributor Barak Ravid. Kylie Atwood is at the State Department for us and she joins us now.

This is very significant and could be hugely consequential given that clearly the president at present is making decisions about whether or not

to withhold some weapons over concerns about what happens next of course in Rafah.

Kylie, explain.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. So we're expecting this report to be delivered to Congress as soon as today, Becky.

It was due earlier this week, but the administration briefed Congress saying that there was slightly delayed.


And as you said, Barak Ravid has gotten us ahead of the reporting here in terms of one aspect expected in that report. According to him, that the

U.S. isn't going to find that Israel violated the terms of use of U.S. weaponry, that would indicate that the U.S. doesn't find that Israel

violated o international humanitarian law. That's one of the key things that this report is meant to study, meant to give an answer on.

Now, notably, we already know that in the construction of this report, in the, you know, efforts here at the State Department to put it together,

there wasn't a consensus opinion on this question. There were certain bureaus who thought that the assurances that Israel provided the United

States on this front weren't credible and weren't reliable so well be looking to see if this report is able to provide us some insight into how

the United States made this determination, how the secretary of state made this final determination, if he took those assurances or if he also got

evidence from the Israelis surrounding these specific strikes for many Palestinians were killed that justified their rationale for going ahead

with those strikes in that way.

And then the other part of this report, as we talked about last hour, Becky, is there is going to be a determination as to whether Israel stood

in the way at all of the delivery of humanitarian goods support into Gaza. Now that's a significant one. Of course, we've heard the United States say

that Israel has to be doing more here. They've said at times that they have made strides in the right direction, but it's -- you know, it's not an

assessment as to where Israel is right now.

It's be an assessment as to where Israel was at different points in time since October 7th, did they ever stand in the way of that delivery of

humanitarian aid? So I think that that's a really key area for us to watch. And this could have implications policy-wise for the Biden administration.

Administration officials are already pointing out, of course, that this week the president made the decision to put a pause on those 2,000 pound

bombs that were to be sent to Israel as a point of pressure to try and pressure the Israelis to not go ahead with that all-out invasion into

Rafah, into those city centers, into those densely populated areas of Rafah.

So we'll have to watch and see what this report actually says and the implications it could have for the Biden administration.

ANDERSON: And just briefly, is it clear from the State Department, the sources that you are talking to at this point, whether or not they believe

the Israelis have made a decision to expand that operation? Joe Biden speaking with Erin Burnett described it as limited to date.

ATWOOD: I think there is an expectation that in the private conversations Israel has said it's going to go ahead with this all-out invasion, and that

is what actually triggered the pause that President Biden put on those weapons because it's not the incursion into Eastern Rafah that actually led

to that pause. It's actually the determination that Israel has said publicly and also privately to United States that really plans to go fully

into Rafah because they believe that's the only way to go after Hamas. The U.S. has very clearly said they're opposed to that tactic.

ANDERSON: Good to have you, Kylie. thank you. Right. Kylie Atwood is in Washington, of course.

Right now, one of Donald Trump's former White House aides is back on the witness stand in New York in Donald Trump's hush money trial. It comes

after perhaps the most explosive and explicit testimony so far from adult star Stormy Daniels.

Our CNN political analyst joins me to discuss the implications of what we have heard to date after this.



ANDERSON: Well, new in the last hour, CNN has learned that Donald Trump's former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, is now set to take the stand

Monday in what is his criminal hush money trial. Cohen expected to be the last major witness in the prosecution's case.

Now, it follows the most explosive testimony of the trial so far. Adult film star Stormy Daniels describing to jurors in graphic detail her alleged

sexual encounter with Trump. Well, a much quieter Friday is expected after what has been a pretty eventful week. Daniels stealing the show early this

week with a former White House aide now right back on the witness stand.

So given that it's a little bit quiet, I wanted to bring in CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston to discuss what we've heard.

And I think it's important that we step back and take a look at this, Mark, through a political lens as it were. Let's just discuss the optics here and

the politics of this. Stormy Daniels was taunting Trump, tweeting, "Real men respond to testimony by being sworn in and taking the stand in court.

Oh, wait. Never mind."

She is far from cowed by the grueling cross-examination, correct?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm going to tell you what, this was -- this is one of these situations when you look at the case on

the merit, you know, as you know, Becky, you can talk about the legality of it all, but the reality is it's about the politics of it all, and who here

in the United States is watching this trial and who here is going to be galvanized to support Donald Trump because they believe he's getting a raw


Or is there a group of women in specific states that we think are going to basically decide the election, who hear these sordid details and say they

just can't vote for President Trump? And I think you're absolutely right. It's the politics that matter in this specific court case.

ANDERSON: I' want to bring up an argument made by "The Economist" magazine when this Stormy story first broke back in, what, 2018, the president's

recipe for political success is to appear more down to earth and his critics in the media, she, Stormy Daniels, is a self-made Republican voting

woman from Louisiana who has sex for a living. She out-Trumps Trump.

Is part of what was actually on reread, you know, a really fascinating article that "The Economist" wrote at the time, do you believe Stormy could

actually make a dent in Trump's support in a way that E. Jean Carroll or other detractors, I won't call them detractors, haven't?

PRESTON: Well, you know, let me answer it this way. There are probably five, six, seven states, depending on who you speak to here in the U.S.,

that will decide the election. Michigan, Wisconsin, rustbelt states down to Pennsylvania, then we're looking at the state of Georgia, we're looking at

Nevada, we're looking at Arizona.

Where it could have a difference and I'm not saying it will, but where it could have a difference is, are there suburban women who are walking that

fine line between being, you know, fairly conservative, but perhaps moderately liberal in some other views? And will they then be turned off by

what they've heard so far? A man who, you know, allegedly had sex with a porn star, allegedly had sex with a porn star and did not use protections.

So it even goes beyond the idea of cheating on somebody but are you then putting, you know, your wife at risk. And I do think certainly the Biden

campaign is hoping that that comes out of this campaign, and certainly that message does.


ANDERSON: It's really good to have you, Mark. And we will continue this conversation at a later date. Thank you very much, indeed. Your perspective

is so important. Thank you.

I just want to dip into the United Nations General Assembly where debate is getting underway this hour. The draft resolution and what you see there is

the UAE's representative. The draft resolution put forward by the UAE in its capacity as the Arab group's chair for May. This is the chair of the

15-country group. At issue, whether Palestine should be given new rights at the world body and should it be elevated to a full member or near full

member status.

This issue came up last month at the Security Council. It was vetoed of course then by the U.S. The move comes as a growing number of countries

around the world are calling for Palestinian statehood. So the UAE speaking, this is the audience at the U.N. General Assembly. They are set

to vote on what is this UAE draft resolution on Friday that would or could recognize Palestine as eligible for full membership.

Let's watch this. There are many who say this is -- this may not get through, and that this is symbolic even if it does because it's, you know,

non-binding, but it is important as we consider the certainly chorus in support of Palestinian statehood around the region that I am in and the

U.S. putting a two-state solution on the table as absolutely imperative for a Palestinian horizon going forward, of course.

A two-state solution wrapped up in the idea of Saudi normalization with Israel should that actually be an option going forward. So these

incremental steps perhaps that we see on the road to recognizing Palestine and Palestinian statehood is important. So this is the UAE's representative

draft resolution now being talked about on the floor of the U.N. General Assembly. We should expect to see a vote from there after this.

Staying with that for you one ear and one eye across it, let us just listen in for a moment.

MOHAMED ABUSHAHAB, UAE AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS MALE (through translator): Fulfilling the U.N.'s historic obligation toward the

Palestinian people is long overdue but it is never too late. Today more than ever the Palestinian people need the support of the United Nations.

Today, each country has the freedom to choose this position and how it will be remembered in history.

Will you take the side of truth, justice and the principles of equality upon which the United Nations was founded? Will you defend an international

order rooted in the rule of law and the legitimate rights of states to full membership? Will you support a people who have endured occupation and

aggression for more than seven decades? Are we going to send a clear message the Security Council today that we will not relent in demanding

Palestine's right to full membership and that the council must respond to the will of the international community?

Mr. President, your excellency, the draft resolution presented today is unambiguous. As we have mentioned, it recommends that the Security Council

reconsider and support Palestine's request in light of the General Assembly's recognition of Palestine's eligibility, and the advisory opinion

of the ICJ dated May 28th, 1948. And in accordance fully with Article Four of the United Nations charter.

Despite this, this resolution alone does not do justice to the state of Palestine as well it only grants additional rights, meaning that Palestine

will remain an observer state without the right to vote in the General Assembly or look forward --


ANDERSON: Well, this is the UAE's representative with a resolution, a draft resolution put forward by the UAE in its capacity as the Arab group's chair

for May. The U.N. General Assembly will vote on this resolution for the Palestine membership, and do remember a state can only gain full with

backing from the U.N. Security Council and two thirds of the members or a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly.

And that's really important. I think you could sort of wrap up what is going on here at the security at the U.N. General Assembly by saying those

who are in favor of Palestinian statehood will be hoping to get a two- thirds majority here, which would balance this issue back to the U.N. Security Council and put it back in front of the body there. Remember last

time it went in front of the Security Council, it was vetoed by the United States. So another push effectively starting here at the UNGA and moving

through back into the UNSC.

All right. We're going to take a very short break. We'll get back to this and discuss what's going on here and its significance after this.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Just after half past 6:00 here in the UAE. Just after half past

10:00 of course on the East Coast of the United States.

And I want to get you back to there, to New York, and to the United Nations and a two-state solution with talks in limbo that's been long evasive in

the Middle East. But today with the war in Gaza intensifying the U.N. General Assembly is taking up a measure that could give the Palestinians a

boost in their quest for status at the United Nations and their attempt to eventually achieve statehood.

Let's get more from our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson.

And Nic, as you and I begin to speak, so I think we are just about to hear from the representative for Palestine, let's just set up for our viewers

why it is significant what we are seeing at the General Assembly today and perhaps we'll just dip in to listen to a little bit of what is going on

there. Just take it away, Nic.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. So he, the representative of Palestinian state, is the second speaker and there's

going to be 109 different countries speaking. Of course, this is the U.N. General Assembly, 193 countries to get a vote. The importance of what's

happening here is the debate on the motion is that the U.N. Security Council should recognize Palestine's eligibility to get a favorable hearing

again on its requests to become a member U.N. state.

And remember, just back in April, the United States vetoed the U.N. Security Council vote. The U.K. and Switzerland abstained. Twelve others

voted for it. And the expectation here is that the general assembly where there are no vetoes that there will be overwhelming or high support, at

least for this motion to move.

Now, the United States deputy ambassador yesterday said that what was happening here is an effort to circumvent the normal procedures, but should

this motion pass, what would be expected to happen? Palestinian representatives would have the right to propose topics for discussion at

the U.N. General Assembly, to answer back in debate, to engage in conversations on topics that don't just involve the Palestinian issue and

the Middle East.

But the most important part of this move and the thrust of it is, is to give the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian people a second shout at

the U.N. Security Council on being considered a state, an important move in the context of course of potential peace talks, potential rebuilding of

Gaza, potentially recognizing a Palestinian state, a two-state solution.

ANDERSON: Let's just have a listen to what the representative for Palestine has to say.

RIYAD MANSOUR, PALESTINIAN OBSERVER TO THE UNITED NATIONS: -- every inch of Gaza has witnessed massacres, as mass graves continue to be uncovered.

Where hospitals used to stand. As the word is barely starting to grasp the cruel and extensive nature of the actions committed against the Palestinian


I stand before you as the Israeli prime minister is ready to kill thousands more to ensure his political survival. As he openly declares the

Palestinian state as an existential threat and together with his co- conspirators continues 76 years after the Nakba to try and finish the job.

ANDERSON: Riyad Mansour speaking at the United Nations General Assembly ahead of a vote on a resolution drafted by the United Arab Emirates on

statehood, proper recognition of a Palestinian state there at the United Nations. Bouncing it back to the United Nations Security Council, which of

course didn't pass the resolution recently vetoed by the United States.

Let's keep an eye on that for you and we'll do more analysis up after this short break.

Nic, I'm going to get you on the other side of this break as negotiations for a ceasefire in Gaza stall, Israel's military operation in Rafah

intensifies. I'll get analysis on where things stand from a Middle East expert in politics up next.



ANDERSON: Want to get back to what is going on at the United Nations General Assembly because it is important. Our international diplomatic

editor Nic Robertson is with us. As we continue to monitor the representative for Palestine there at the UNGA, we are waiting on a vote on

resolution for Palestine membership and a state can only get full membership if it gets the backing from a majority, two-thirds majority of

the assembly, the General Assembly, which is what we are looking at now, and of course the backing of the UNSC, the Security Council.

So, Nic, just explain what's going on here and why.

ROBERTSON: Well, right now we're hearing from the principal players. We heard from the UAE representative laying out the proposal and its terms.

We're hearing from the Palestinian Authority representative Riyad Mansour, putting forward why the General Assembly should take this vote in favor of

recognizing or moving towards that position of recognizing Palestine as a state.

Our next stop, we're expecting to hear from the Israeli representative at the General Assembly there who will I'm sure reinform us of Prime Minister

Netanyahu's view is that he does not want to recognize Palestine as a state. So we'll likely hear a lot of that. We'll also hear from U.S.

representatives. Look, it's a long list from the UAE through to 109 on that list. I think it's Cyprus number 100 as the U.K., whether or not they'll

all speak the question is how will the vote go at the end of it? And that's going to be the telling point.

And I think there's a couple of things to consider here. You know, they're talking about the draft, this resolution. It's already had a revision. We

know back at the U.N. Security Council resolution vote back in April, where the U.S. vetoed, both China and Russia wanted Palestine to be recognized as

a state. But now when they look at the terms of what this draft is about right now, Russia has concerns about giving too much influence to

essentially powers at the U.N. to Palestine because of Kosovo. China equally has its concerns about Taiwan.

So the language has already been sort of watered down to what Palestine short of a U.N. Security Council vote can get. But what if it passes and

what it will get is a stronger voice at the U.N. which is an erosion of Israel's position, trying to stifle its voice at the U.N. over the years.

ANDERSON: Good to have you, Nic.

Nic is our international diplomatic editor. And what we are witnessing here is extremely important at the UNGA. We will continue to monitor what is

going on there on the floor.

Thank you, Nic.

This morning outside Jerusalem's Old City, a demonstration for peace and humanity. A group of Israeli women staging a sit-in call for an end to the

war in Gaza. They described themselves as, quote, "Women who lived between the river and the sea, born into a complex reality of violence, fear,

oppression, and terror, which started long before October 7th."

Well, the flyers they handed out went on to say, and I quote, "We acknowledge that violence only leads to a cycle of more violence and

revenge, to more generations born into death and hatred. We had enough of this cycle. Each and every person on this earth longs and deserves to live

a safe, free, and dignified life on Monday."


On Monday this week, Hamas said it had agreed to a proposal for a ceasefire and the release of hostages. Prompting these celebrations in the Gaza

Strip. And like those Palestinians, most of us went to bed that night hoping we would wake up to see the beginning of the end of this war. But

instead those hopes were dashed when Israeli tanks rolled into Rafah and presumed start of a long feared ground invasion there. Just when it seemed

an end to tragedies might be near, instead it feels further away than ever.

Let's get more insight from an expert on relations in the Middle East. A good friend of this show. Firas Maksad, the director of Outreach and a

senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. He joins us now live from Washington, D.C.

It's good to have you, sir, with us.

President Joe Biden telling Israel that the U.S. will stop sending it certain weapons if it launches a major invasion of Rafah. We know the

Israeli troops are already on the ground. Stepping back, what do you make of everything that we have seen happen this week?

FIRAS MAKSAD, DIRECTOR OF OUTREACH, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: Well, Becky, it's good to be back on the show. Thank you for having me. Very clear here

that there's still a significant gap between where Hamas is and where Netanyahu, the Netanyahu government is. What Hamas accepted and signed on

to seemed to be a modified American version of the proposal, which is not what the Netanyahu government is ready to sign on to. And so we saw these

tanks rolling in. Obviously, domestic consideration for Prime Minister Netanyahu are very right-wing coalition that does not want to see a

ceasefire agreement come into fruition under these terms.


MAKSAD: So where I'm afraid we're going is that there's going to be a military operation in Rafah. It's going to be more of a slice and dice

operation that rather than a massive campaign. And despite what we're hearing from Washington and the shot across the bow from the Biden

administration, I do believe that the White House will be OK with a slice and dice measured approach, rather than a full throttled campaign like we

saw in Northern Gaza.

ANDERSON: We are reporting a pause in the ceasefire and hostage talks. This is -- these are talks and let's just talk about the loose parameters here

because I don't want to get caught in the weeds. The three-phase deal, first is the release of up to 33 hostages, and that would be, you know, a

temporary ceasefire. The second part of this deal if both sides sign up is what is being described as the restoration of sustainable calm.

And in the last phase of a deal should it be signed up to by both parties would focus on reconstruction in Gaza, which as you and I both know

involves bringing the region's heavyweights namely Saudi Arabia and others who were and may still be on the verge of normalization, of course, with

Israel. And I'm talking about the kingdom here that pre-requisites for that to happen, are things that Benjamin Netanyahu frankly is unwilling to agree

to. A two-state solution and an irreversible path towards a two-state solution.

There is a mega deal on the table for the Saudis with Washington at the moment, but all -- most parties say it is wrapped up in this normalization

wrapper at this point. You genuinely believe there is, you know, another root here. So two questions. Firstly, are we anywhere close to

normalization? And if we are not what chance better U.S.-Saudi relations and deals going forward?

MAKSAD: Well, Becky, as you know, I was just recently in Riyadh and I could tell you that the Biden administration is literally on the cut, on the

verge of clinching a momentous deal with Saudi Arabia, one that is multifaceted, goes way beyond normalization. In fact, includes a defense

pack, an AI, and a high-tech pack. Certainly talks about possible normalization, energy, long-term coordination on energy issues.


But I think the framing of this deal has been lost in Washington. It has become so much entangled in that discourse about possible Saudi-Israeli

normalization. And we forget that the reason the Biden administration did a 180 U-turn in July of 2022, went from calling a Saudi Arabia a pariah to

having President Biden land on the tarmac in Riyadh is because of great power competition.

It's because of Russia's invasion in Ukraine and the consequences that had on energy markets. But also concerns about China, particularly after

President Xi's visit, and the Beijing brokered accords between Riyadh and Tehran. So this is first and foremost a deal being negotiated because of

great power competition to bring Saudi Arabia fully back under the umbrella of the United States and much of the region, too.

Yes, normalization was added. It's an important component. It's a component that would make a deal much easier here in Washington given Israel support

to borders in the Congress. But my argument is, in an essay I wrote this week, that this shouldn't be premised on normalization and maybe we need to

take a staggered step-by-step approach.

ANDERSON: I'm going to have to leave it there. We'll have you back on this because we need to take a much deeper dive than we're able to on this show

this hour. It's really important stuff and I'm just going to close out, Firas, with a little more of that piece that you recently wrote. Let's get

an excerpt for you, quote, "Premising a crucial U.S.-Saudi alliance on the fate of an embattled Israeli prime minister," Firas wrote, "And the

complexities of Israeli Palestinian peacemaking amounts to diplomatic malpractice," you said.

"The potential blowback from the collapse of U.S.-Saudi talks after having come so close would cause considerable and enduring damage to U.S.

strategic assets."

I've got to take a short break. We're going to ensure that we talk about this with you again. Before I do that, I've got to get back to the U.N.

General Assembly where the representative for Israel has just taken the stand. Let's listen in.

GILAD ERDAN, ISRAEL AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Following the Allied victory, this institution, here, the United Nations, was founded with the

mission of ensuring such tyranny never raises its ugly head again, never. Today you're about to do the exact opposite and advance the establishment

of a Palestinian terrorist state, which will be led by the Hitler of our times. The Hitler of our times.

In the 1940s, the world united to destroy a murderous regime, yet today, with sick and twisted irony, the very body established to prevent evil is

now welcoming a terror state into its ranks. What would Churchill say if he were alive today? What would Roosevelt think? They are turning in their

graves, turning in their graves.

This week, only this week, Israel commemorated Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and it is during our sacred week that this shameless body

had chosen to reward modern-day Nazis with rights and privileges? As Israelis mourn the Jewish babies burned in the crematoria, you here at the

U.N. usher in --

ANDERSON: You're listening to the Israeli representative on the floor of the UNGA. Let's just be -- I have to ensure that everybody is quite clear

about what is going on at the U.N. today. The U.N. General Assembly is to vote on resolution for a Palestinian membership. A draft can only gain full

membership with backing from the Security Council and two-thirds -- a majority two-thirds of the U.N. General Assembly.

So, you know, just to be absolutely clear, as we listened to the Israeli representative there, this is on a vote for membership of the -- full

membership by the Palestinians of the U.N. That is the vote that will be tabled -- resolution being tabled, vote will happen later.

Taking a very short break. Back after this.



ANDERSON: Well, we have been keeping an eye on the United Nations this hour for you. A key vote moments away, where in the global community will vote

to make the state of Palestine a full member. That resolution authored by, amongst others, United Arab Emirates, where I am broadcasting to you from.

CNN will monitor this.

That is it for CONNECT THE WORLD. At least from the team working with me here, it is a very good evening. Stay with CNN. NEWSROOM is up next.