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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Israel Bans Non-Muslims From Holy Site In Jerusalem For 10 Days; President Joe Biden Will Speak To Ulster University Students In Belfast; EPA Releases New Vehicle Emissions Rules. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 12, 2023 - 05:30   ET





Israel has banned non-Muslims from a holy site in Jerusalem for the final 10 days of Ramadan. The sacred area is known to Jews as Temple Mount. To Muslims, it is the site of the al-Aqsa mosque where Israeli police mounted a violent raid and beat congregants praying there last week, triggering the violence in the area.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joins us live from Jerusalem. Good morning, Salma. The ban from the Netanyahu government came after Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinians in the West Bank on Tuesday. Do you think this -- will this ban help or exacerbate the tensions there?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it's actually the opposite. The intention behind this from Prime Minister Netanyahu who described -- or the Israeli government described this as not unprecedented. Muslims expected, based on traditions in the past, that the last 10 days those sacred grounds would be reserved for them to celebrate and observe the holy month of Ramadan.

That's why my producer and I visited the place -- visited the site to learn more about how they revered al-Aqsa mosque and what it meant during these very sensitive times.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): A delicate balance that governs and binds this holy site is under strain. My producer and I, both Muslim-born, were granted access to film at the al-Aqsa compound by the custodians of the site. Only Muslims are allowed to pray here under a long- running but unwritten status quo agreement that worshipers tell us is slowly being eroded. Non-Muslims can visit the complex only during certain hours.

UM KAMAL AL-KURDI, MUSLIM WORSHIPER: (Speaking foreign language).

ABDELAZIZ: "I feel pain -- true pain inside," this woman tells me. "This is a place of worship, not a place for occupation or for provocation." This is what she means. While we speak, a group of largely Jewish visitors passes by the mosque under police escort. The women demonstrate by reciting the Quran louder and louder.

This mountaintop is revered by Jews, too. They call it Temple Mount. A growing movement of Jewish extremists is demanding to perform prayers here. That could upend the status quo. We witnessed at least two men praying as police stand by.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): We've seen several small groups like this of non-Muslim worshipers passing through the complex as Muslims continue to pray inside the mosque. This is where the friction is. This is where the controversy lies.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Jordan is the custodian of the grounds but that role is becoming increasingly symbolic, experts say, because it is Israel that controls the security checks at entry points and therefore, access.

The director general of al-Aqsa sees the increasing visits of Jewish extremists under police escort as a provocation.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): "I see these visits as an attack on our holy site," he tells me, "and I warn the government of Israel to stay away from al-Aqsa mosque because any violation here drags down the entire region."

And there are taunts at the gates. Small groups of Jewish radicals sing "The temple will be built," a reference to a far-right cringe call to build a third temple on the sacred grounds.

Prime Minister Netanyahu insists he is committed to keeping the status quo. But under his government, the most far-right in Israel's history, extremists' voices are growing louder and stronger.

All this makes an already extremely contentious place ever more of a tinderbox. One event here can and has sparked deadly cycles of violence across the region.

Al-Aqsa is seen as a political symbol as well as a religious one by the Arab world. The complex lies in the heart of East Jerusalem, which most of the international community considers to be under Israeli occupation, but which Israel sees as part of its united capital.

MOHAMMED, MUSLIM WORSHIPER: (Speaking foreign language).

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): "Al-Aqsa is our life. It is the breath we breathe," he says. "It is an ideology that we carry in our minds."

We enter the Dome of the Rock, an area designated for women to witness the afternoon prayer. Some go to great lengths to get here passing multiple checkpoints, but they tell us they find some peace when they arrive.

NOOR, MUSLIM WORSHIPER: (Speaking foreign language). ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): "Of course, I don't feel safe," she tells me, "and everything can change in an instant, so I'm always scared. But I'm here because I have faith in God."

This prayer passed peacefully as most do -- but here, even quiet worship is not a guarantee.



ABDELAZIZ: Now I have to emphasize, as I did in that report, that Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly said that he is committed to that status quo even as early as just a few days ago after the latest cycle of violence. But with such a sensitive place under a time when Israel has its most right-wing government in history there are a great deal of sensitivities and that spot -- that corner could simply be the catalyst for yet another cycle of violence if there is any perceived shift in those norms.

ROMANS: Salma, thank you so much. What a revealing look at a holy place -- such an important place in the Middle East. Thank you so much. Nice to see you, Salma.

All right, quick hits around the globe right now.

Russia making it tougher to dodge the military draft. A new law in the works would introduce electronic draft notices for Russian citizens.

The United Nations telling all its staff in Afghanistan stay home after the Taliban banned the U.N.'s female staff from working. Last week, Afghan men working for the U.N. -- they stayed home in support of their female colleagues.

And Britain bracing for an unprecedented disruption to health care nationwide after a planned four-day strike by thousands of junior- level doctors began on Tuesday. That strike over pay.

Just ahead, the big announcement expected by a GOP senator from South Carolina today. And what President Biden will do before he speaks in Northern Ireland this morning.



ROMANS: Here is today's fast-forward lookahead.

Republican Sen. Tim Scott planning to launch a presidential exploratory committee. He has been teasing a White House bid for months and is expected to make that announcement today in Iowa.

County commissioners in Memphis will vote today on whether to appoint Justin Pearson interim representative in the Tennessee House. Pearson held that seat until last week when he was expelled by Republicans for joining a gun violence protest. President Biden kicking off his trip to Ireland with a speech at

Ulster University in Belfast later this morning. He's expected to discuss young people's impact on high-tech innovation.

CNN reporter Kevin Liptak is live in Belfast with the latest on the president's trip. Good morning, Kevin. Great to see you.

You know, the president will first meet with the British prime minister, we're told, over coffee, which makes it sound like a casual meeting on this -- on this international trip. What do you think the president is hoping to achieve this morning, Kevin?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, certainly, they have a lot to talk about but what is at the center of their conversation today is the Good Friday Agreement. And, of course, that is why President Biden is here in Northern Ireland to mark 25 years since that U.S.-brokered deal.

When they sit down today they will want to talk about this issue of the power-sharing government here. That was one of the key outcomes of the Good Friday Agreement but it's currently paralyzed over this dispute over Brexit trade rules.

President Biden also plans to meet with leaders from the parties to try and cajole them back into a functioning government. President Biden had originally been invited to address that government. It's called Stormont. He declined the invitation and instead, he'll speak to students at Ulster University. And I think that choice of venue really is so symbolic.

He wants to talk to students, many of whom may not have even been born in 1998 and have no direct memory of the troubles here in Northern Ireland. Talk to them not necessarily about this country's bloody and violent past but more about its potential and its future. And so that's really what President Biden wants to accomplish this morning.

ROMANS: You know -- and Kevin, he's also scheduled to take a -- I guess an ancestry tour and get in touch with his Irish roots.

LIPTAK: Yes, and that's really kind of the centerpiece of this entire four-day visit to the island of Ireland, and it will start today.

He's going to County Louth. That's on the border with Northern Ireland and that is where his great-great-great grandfather, Owen Finnegan -- he was born in 1818. He was a shoemaker. And he came to the United States in 1849, right around the era of the Irish famine, and that's really kind of the origin of Biden's sort of well-told Irish history.

He'll do it again later in the week. He'll go to another county on the -- in the west of Ireland and explore that family roots as well.

But that is really sort of the intent of Biden in this visit is to explore his history, explore his roots, and really sort of relay that to the broader American public, Christine.

ROMANS: Great-great-great grandfather -- three greats -- wow. Kevin Liptak --


ROMANS: -- thank you so much.

LIPTAK: That's right.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

All right, LeBron James and the Lakers rallied in dramatic fashion to win in overtime, locking up a spot in the postseason.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning, Andy.


So a lot of people think this Lakers team can make some noise in the playoffs but first they had to get there, and for much of last night it looked like the Timberwolves were going to pull off the upset.

The Lakers were down 10 in the fourth quarter but they would rally back. And with it tied with time winding down, LeBron is going to drive and find Dennis Schroder who knocks down the three. The Lakers celebrate like they've won with just a second left on the clock.

But Anthony Davis is going to foul Mike Conley Jr. here in the corner on the ensuing possession. He makes all three free throws and we go to overtime. But in O.T., LeBron down to Anthony Davis. He puts it in.

The Lakers win 108-102 to claim the seventh seed in the west and a date with the Grizzlies.

And here is LeBron after the game on what should have been the game- winner to Schroder.


LEBRON JAMES, FORWARD, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: I've been playing the game like that since I was a kid. I drew the defense, trust your teammates, and he knocked it down. It's unfortunate that A.D. had a brain fart and messed his game-winner up.


JAMES: If I messed his game-winner up, I apologize. I definitely apologize. So --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Apology accepted?

JAMES: A game-winner for Diaz. Crockett, big (PH).

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: All right. The Hawks, meanwhile, putting a beatdown on the Heat last night. Trae Young and company jumping out to a big first- half lead, up by as many as 24. The Heat cut that lead to five in the third. But the Hawks would prevail, winning rather easily 116-105. They now move on to face the Celtics after that big win in Miami.



TRAE YOUNG, GUARD, ATLANTA HAWKS: They're known around this league for being a very physical team and try to bully a lot of teams on the defensive end. And if you don't match their intensity and their physicality you can get beat, and that's what I feel like has been going on these last couple of games against them -- the last few games. So tonight I think we really matched their physicality and it showed.

CHARLES BARKLEY, SPORTS ANALYST, TNT: I've got to make sure this is Trae Young. Let me hear it.

YOUNG: (Making hawk sound).


SCHOLES: All right, to hockey, where the Boston Bruins have just pulled off the greatest regular season in NHL history after a record- breaking 63rd win on Sunday. The Bruins beating the Caps 5-2 last night to set the mark for the most points in a season with 133, surpassing a record set by the Montreal Canadians almost 50 years ago. The last team to finish the full season with the most points and go on to win the Stanley Cup -- that was the 2008 Red Wings.

All right, finally, the Pirates and Astros were tied at four in the bottom of the ninth yesterday. Ji-Hwan Bae comes to the plate with two on and let's just listen to how it sounded in South Korea.


JI-HWAN BAE, PITTSBURGH PIRATES: (Hitting game-winning home run).

KOREAN T.V. CREW: (Speaking foreign language).


SCHOLES: Yes, so Bae hitting a three-run walk-off home run to beat the Astros 7-4. The Pirates now 7-4 on the season. So they were certainly having fun there, Christine.

And you know who else is having fun? The Tampa Bay Rays. They beat the Red Sox and they are now 11-0 to start the season.


SCHOLES: Just one of four teams, Christine, since 1901 to win their first 11 games. ROMANS: Wow, amazing.

All right, nice to see you. Thank you, Andy. A lot of games --

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: -- to go, though, for this season for sure.


ROMANS: It is a strong start but we'll see where they go. All right, thanks, Andy.

Coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" the looming legal deadline today for medication abortions. And next right here, new rules just out for new cars in America.



ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this morning is 47. Forty- seven percent of Americans surveyed say it is unlikely they will buy an EV -- an electric vehicle -- as their next car. That's almost half. Only 19 percent said they are ready to go electric, citing high costs and battery range. We'll talk about some new rules just out that could change the game in a moment.

But a quick look at Wall Street and markets around the world this morning. European markets are higher this morning. Asian markets finished mixed. And on Wall Street, stock index futures at this hour -- it looks like they treading water, up a little bit here.

You know, stocks finished mixed yesterday. Investors awaiting March's Consumer Price Index due in a few hours. The S&P barely moved yesterday. The Nasdaq down. Consumer prices are forecast to cool both monthly and annually. That reading would mark nine months in a row of CPI inflation cooling.

One window on inflation, gas prices up a penny overnight to $3.62 a gallon.

And today, the minutes from the Fed's March meeting are due out this morning giving further insight into the central bank's 25 basis point rate hike decision.

All right, brand-new. The Environmental Protection Agency has just released a proposal to tighten vehicle emission standards. If this goes through this new rule could increase electric vehicle sales to two-thirds of new car sales by 2032 -- in just a decade. That would cut planet-warming pollution from cars in half.

Let's bring in CNN climate reporter Ella Nilsen. Ella, so great to have you this morning.

Walk us through this. If this happens the rules will be the strictest federal environmental regulation for U.S. auto -- the U.S. auto industry. What is it aiming to achieve here?

ELLA NILSEN, CNN CLIMATE REPORTER: Yes. So, Christine, this rule is a big deal. So looking out from model year 2027 to 2032, this rule would basically -- it intends to push new car sales toward electric vehicles up to two-thirds by 2032 -- the start of the next decade.

And as you said, this is a big deal for U.S. consumers, U.S. automakers, and it's a big deal for climate. This is one of Biden's most aggressive climate policies yet that the Biden administration has unveiled.

ROMANS: This is even more aggressive than what we've recently heard from the president. He was aiming I think for half of new car sales to be EV in the next decade or so. This is even more aggressive if this goes through.

NILSEN: Yes, and we're talking about light-duty cars -- you know, the cars and trucks that Americans drive -- but this rule also covers medium-duty vehicles like delivery trucks, and also covers heavy-duty vehicles like dump trucks, buses, utility trucks.

But yes, this would have the effect, as you said, of slashing planet- warming pollution by half. Transportation is the biggest source of planet-warming emissions in the U.S. and light-duty vehicles that Americans drive, like cars and trucks, make up more than half of those emissions. So this is -- this is a big deal.

ROMANS: You just heard me say that one of the things holding people back is the cost of the vehicle. We know in the Inflation Reduction Act there's a $7,500 tax credit for EV vehicles. But it's been very messy here and we know that the Treasury is going to tighten some of these rules. So essentially, fewer cars qualify for the full $7,500 tax refund.

Is that a key part of the administration's effort to green -- you know, green the nation by offering money -- tax credits to get people to buy cars? We know cost is one of their biggest holdouts.

NILSEN: Yes. So the tax credits are a huge deal from the consumer side. Basically, the Biden administration wants to incentivize consumers to buy these electric vehicles. These are due out next week and as you said, these were in the Inflation Reduction Act that was -- which was written by Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia.


And basically, these tax credits were designed to move the EV battery supply chain away from China and towards the U.S. and its allies. So these rules are written in a really complex way. When they come out on April 18, actually fewer EVs are going to be eligible in the short term, which the Biden administration is hoping will ramp up over the coming years. But we are expecting Americans to sort of at the start, at least, be sort of confused about what qualifies and how they can take advantage.

ROMANS: Right, because they are -- it is confusing, no question. Ella Nilsen, we know you'll be there following it for us. Thanks for your great reporting.

NILSEN: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Louisville police releasing bodycam footage from the deadly bank shooting, and why the Manhattan D.A. is now suing a Republican congressman.