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Isa Soares Tonight
Vladimir Putin: Russia-China Relations at the "Highest Point Ever"; Israeli Finance Minister Claims There's "No Such Thing As a Palestinian People"; A New Report Accuses London's Met Police of Letting Predators Flourish; Israeli Minister States "No Such Thing As Palestinian People"; NYPD, Capitol Police Ramp Up Security. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired March 21, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello, and a very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, a show of unity by China and
Russia as the countries' presidents pledge closer ties. We will explore why their talks have put NATO on edge. Then, international outrage as Israel's
finance minister claims there's no such thing as a Palestinian people. We'll have more on that coming up.
Plus, a new blistering report accuses London's Metropolitan police of letting predators flourish. We'll explain what it says of the forces
failures. But first, tonight, China and Russia want the world to know their friendship is strong and they will support each other against pressure from
On their second day of talks in Moscow, Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a joint declaration of partnership,
promising mutual assistance and deeper economic ties. Mr. Putin says the talks were substantive, frank, as well as friendly. He toasted Mr. Xi at a
state dinner, boasting that relations between the two countries are at the highest point ever.
Still, according to Mr. Putin, China is taking an objective stance on Ukraine, one that world really should pay attention to. Have a listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA, (through translator): Of course, we did not ignore the situation around Ukraine. We believe that many of the points
on the peace plan put forward by China are consistent with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis of a peaceful settlement when the
West and Kyiv are ready for it. But this readiness is not observed on their side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, let's -- joined now by Will Ripley who joins me from Taipei, Taiwan, and Nic Robertson is with me here in London. Will, good to see you.
Let me start off then with you. What came out of these meetings? What were the takeaways, would you say?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would say the take- away is this authoritarian alliance, you know, led by Xi, who is arguably now the most powerful autocrat on the planet, you know, and Vladimir Putin,
who once was the most powerful and influential, and now is just the most problematic. They are joining forces and the West be damned.
These guys basically share the same ideology. That the U.S.-led western world order that's been in place for more than 70 years since the end of
World War II needs to go away. It needs to be destabilized. They think that NATO and other groups like that have too much power. And so they're joining
China, for the moment, is helping to keep Russia afloat. They're preventing Putin's Russia from collapsing economically, certainly. But also adding
legitimacy by Xi Jinping, you know, making this his first foreign trip since getting an unprecedented third term. You know, making him the leader
of a country of 1.5 billion people with the world's largest Navy and nuclear arsenal, and a lot of weapons and ammunition that could really help
Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.
In exchange, of course, for Vladimir Putin's unwavering support down the road no matter what happens. For Jinping, ideology comes first. He's been
that way throughout his rising through the ranks of China's communist party. And you see these two leaders there, Isa, you know, sitting in this
vast, you know, very Soviet-style kind of hall, you see them in Beijing, you see them in North Korea, you see it there at the Kremlin, signing these
documents, saying well, you know, when Kyiv, you know, when they decide to come around, then this is what they will want to -- this is what we will
present to them.
I mean, these are two guys that are living in an echo chamber of yes men, not accountable to the public in their own countries where human rights are
abysmal in many cases, and imposing their will now on Ukraine and trying to impose it on the rest of the world.
SOARES: And Nic, I mean, we heard from Xi in the press conference in what the statement he gave earlier, and he's painting himself as an arbiter of
peace here, isn't he? He says the important thing is to abide by the U.N. Charter. Is he really abiding by the U.N. Charter? I mean, because it seems
to me that he's having a bit of his cake and he's eating it at the same time. So, how do you interpret what we heard from him today?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: So two-fifths of the U.N. Security Council, that would be Russia and China, fervently believe
what President Xi is saying. There are three-fifths, the U.K., United States and France at the Security Council don't believe it. I think this is
--one of the big problems that's emerging here, it's the imagery, it is the economic tie-up, it's the international message.
But break that down, where does the problem lie for the West, for Ukraine supporters, for NATO, for the United States? There are a lot in the global
south as well as many countries within the Arab gulf states, that will listen to what she is saying and listen to what Putin is saying as well as
her populations at home.
What I'm saying here is that the pair of them are dominating a very dangerous narrative, if you will, that not only are we in the right,
because we're following the pre-scripts of the U.N. Charter. But we're doing the right thing for the right reasons. This is a very big idea to
puncture for western liberal --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: Democracies. Because it's being perpetrated in autocracies where people don't get another view and don't get to question it. And I
think this is part of the growing challenge from the international community, to unpick what is clearly, factually inaccurate and wrong.
SOARES: So just picking up there, I mean, this call that we are expecting to see potentially between Zelenskyy and Xi, how is that going to go, Nic?
ROBERTSON: Not very well. And look, Putin has a lot of -- a long-time relationship with Xi, 10 years since Xi has been president, this is their
40th meeting, although they've met 40 times already. So there's a very strong relationship. There are no great history like that with President
Zelenskyy. You know, China has already indicated it will help in the reconstruction of Ukraine. I'm sure Ukraine really is not --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: Wanting that kind of help. Look, the messaging today from within the Kremlin is entirely antithetical --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: To President Zelenskyy, saying, hey, here's an honest broker, here is the guy really in the middle who gets Putin and he gets me. That's
just not the way it's going to go. I think Xi retains overtime the threats that can ultimately reign in Putin, and let him play out at the same time.
And this, of course, is something very hard for Zelenskyy to interrupt.
SOARES: On that point then, Will, that Nic just mentioned, let's talk about this bromance between both of them. You mentioned in your first
answer the ideology, how it's so much about ideology. What does Xi get out of this? What would -- why would he involve himself in this, would you say?
RIPLEY: Because by keeping Putin afloat, he is distracting the West with his war on Ukraine, his unprovoked war. He is providing a counter-balance
to the United States. So he's keeping the United States quite occupied and much of the world looking the other way while China continues to grow its
Navy and develop new and more terrifying weapons to add to its arsenal.
And basically stating, without giving a timeline, that at some point, this self-governed democracy, Taiwan, which the communist rulers have always
claimed but never controlled since the end of China's civil war, Xi Jinping believes that this will inevitably become a part of China, and he wants it
to happen on his watch.
And that's pretty unlikely that the voters here, even those who tend to side with, you know, pro-Beijing in terms of business interests and
communication, it's hard to imagine a Taiwan that would willingly just be reabsorbed into the mainland, especially after what they saw unfold in Hong
Kong, which was promised one country, two systems.
And so Xi Jinping needs a Vladimir Putin --
SOARES: Yes --
RIPLEY: Around over the next 5 or 10 years to be in his corner, if and when he decides to make a move on this island.
SOARES: Strengthen the alliance. Just go ahead, Nic, your final point --
ROBERTSON: Yes, I think there's another thing to add, Will, absolutely lays out beautifully there is that, you know, Putin says that the United
States is willing to fight down to the last Ukrainian. But what Will is outlining here, and I think we definitely see at the same way,
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: That China, in a way is willing to fight the United States and NATO in Ukraine down to the last Russian. Because far better and easier for
China to have this day new moon --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: If that's what they want of NATO on a territory a million miles -- well, thousands of miles away from Taiwan. Which is a challenge they're
going to make. Which is all about breaking the United States' grip and influence in the Pacific.
SOARES: Nic, Will, fascinating. I'm sorry we don't have any more time to talk, but I'm pretty sure we'll have more occasions to get down to this, to
talk this in detail. Thank you very much to you both. Thank you. Now, Ukraine is getting a visit from one of its top Asian allies, Japanese Prime
Minister Fumio Kishida made a surprise trip to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Ivan Watson joins me now from Kharkiv. So Ivan, this meeting from PM Kishida taking place, of course, at the same time as you just heard our
discussion, as Putin and Xi met. What has been the reaction, then, from the government there to this meeting?
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Ukrainian reaction to the Chinese-Russian meeting, they are watching nervously and carefully.
We have not heard any official real statements today. The Ukrainians don't want to shut the Chinese out completely. They are saying they're willing to
talk, and there are discussions about trying to set up some kind of direct conversation between the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the
Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
But that clearly hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, we do have this fascinating split-screen, while the leader of China is in Moscow, the
leader of Tokyo is making a surprise visit to Kyiv, and swearing support to Ukraine, while also announcing some -- just recently, some $5.5. billion
worth of Japanese aid to Ukraine. And it just gives you more of a sense of -- kind of the polarization into blocks.
Moscow and Beijing on the one side, and arguably, G7 countries supporting Ukraine as well as Europe, on the other.
SOARES: And this meeting from Kishida, of course, in Ukraine, as we saw that footage there, comes of course, on the heels, Ivan, as our viewers
would know, of the indictment by the ICC for war crimes, this is for Putin here. Russian soldier, meanwhile, is also being accused, from what I
understand, of war crimes in absentia. Just talk us through this truly horrific crime.
WATSON: Sure. I mean, and just some bigger context. The United Nations came out with statistics today estimating that at least, 8,317 civilians
have been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine in February of last year. And that, just in the first 19 days of this month, at least 113 civilians
killed, 356 injured, the U.N. thinks that the real number is probably much higher than this.
This is just what they've been able to confirm. So the Ukrainian authorities here have been investigating one particular attack, a severe
wounding of a Ukrainian civilian that they say amounts to an alleged war crime committed by the Russian military.
WATSON (voice-over): From a battlefield in eastern Ukraine, a desperate call for help as a Ukrainian woman pleads for her wounded husband's life.
Footage from last June shows the moment when a Ukrainian couple took a wrong turn towards an active frontline, their car came under fire from
nearby Russian forces, badly wounding the driver, Valeria Ponomarova's husband.
VALERIA PONOMAROVA (through translator): I saw his head was injured and immediately began to bandage his head.
WATSON: The incident captured on video by a drone piloted by Ukrainian soldiers and later compiled into a documentary by the Ukrainian Director
PONOMAROVA: I turned, it fell on my knees, and just screamed with the most agonizing cry, I didn't know whose drone it was, our forces or the enemy.
WATSON: The pilot taped a sign, saying, follow me on his drone and directed Ponomarova to safety. She made the agonizing decision to leave her
wounded husband behind as she followed the drone, Russian soldiers emerged to approach her car. They took her husband, Andrii, and dumped him in a
(on camera): This is the intersection where that terrible shooting took place in June. The Ukrainian military subsequently liberated the area,
allowing Ukrainian police to come in and launch an investigation into an alleged Russian war crime.
(voice-over): Ukrainian police investigator Serhii Bolvinov says he has gathered evidence to accuse a 25-year-old Russian army officer of the war
crime of attempted murder of a civilian.
SERHII BOLVINOV, KHARKIV POLICE (through translator): He is a company commander of the second motorized rifle division, First Tank Army Western
Military District. We established his identity.
WATSON: For police to work here, sappers first had to clear the area of land mines.
(SOUND OF ARTILLERY)
Then police conducted forensics and ballistic analysis of the crime scene.
(on camera): Ukrainian police say the Russian troops were stationed here on this side of this wall, and it's from here that they opened fire on the
(voice-over): Inspector Bolvinov shows me what he says are incriminating telephone intercepts of their chief suspect calling his wife.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WATSON: Ukrainian police say the weapon was a 30 millimeter cannon aboard this type of infantry fighting vehicle. Police say they've also tracked
down photos of the officer and his wife from their social media accounts. On that dark day, Valeria Ponomarova followed the drone to safety, stepping
around deadly land mines until a Ukrainian soldier met her. It was too dangerous for troops to retrieve Andrii Bohomaz. .
(on camera): Is this where they brought the victim, the Russian soldiers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WATSON (voice-over): But that's not the end of Andrii's story, miraculously, he somehow survived after spending the night badly wounded in
ANDRII BOHOMAZ, SHOOTING VICTIM: I felt I had fallen. I looked around and realized I was lying in some kind of a ditch.
WATSON: The next day, he limped to safety.
BOHOMAZ: It took 30 or 40 minutes, I stopped a lot because I was in a lot of pain.
WATSON: Andrii is still in treatment for multiple shrapnel wounds to the head, chest and spine. The alleged attempted murder of a Ukrainian civilian
at these crossroads, just one of hundreds of potential war crime cases being investigated by police in Ukraine's Kharkiv region. But it's perhaps
the only incident that has been so incredibly well documented.
WATSON: And Isa, Ukrainian law enforcement is sending a powerful message to the Russian military, that there is somebody here, collecting evidence,
taking names that they hope one day down the road, that there will be accountability, that adds a certain amount of pressure, potentially doubt
to frontline commanders when they carry out the orders of their Russian Generals. Isa?
SOARES: Ivan Watson there for us in Kharkiv this evening, thanks very much, Ivan. Fascinating report there. And still to come tonight, a shocking
report on London's Met Police that lays out widespread failings within the force. What the report says straight ahead. Plus, we'll see how U.S. stock
markets are doing as the fate of another regional bank hangs in the balance.
SOARES: Now, regional banks in the United States are under enormous pressure after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank of course, and Signature
Bank. Now, it's First Republic that is indeed fighting for its survival. Now, here is the good news, its shares as you can see there are up sharply,
34 percent in fact, just over that after losing almost half its value on Monday.
Sources say JPMorgan Chase's investment bank has been hired to advise First Republic and find a solution. All major indices on Wall Street are in the
green as you can see there, Nasdaq faring the best, 1.5 percent, but green arrows is right across the board. And this is really on hopes that this
month's banks crisis may be finally contained, and waiting of course, critically for the Fed that meets tomorrow.
Rahel Solomon is in New York. Rahel, great to see you. Right, let's start with the First Republic. The shares are looking pretty good. How are
regional banks in the U.S. doing? And the nerves still there? Is every -- do you feel like everything is contained here?
RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, well, that is a dangerous statement to make Isa. I mean, I certainly hope so, for the sake of our
economy. But it certainly feels like at least, for today, that pressure has taken a back seat. We haven't really gotten a ton of news on the banking
front today, and so Isa, in this market and this environment, may be nosy news is good news for the banks --
SOARES: Yes --
SOLOMON: Because investors certainly like it as you point out, all of the major U.S. averages are up. The Dow is up 349 points at the highs of the
day, so helping stabilize the market is that news, as you point to that, that we got yesterday, that First Republic may be getting some help again
from JPMorgan to perhaps consider another rescue plan.
So that happened on the First Republic side, that happened with the regional banks, and providing a bit of calm in the markets. Now all eyes
turned to this March FOMC meeting and the announcement tomorrow in terms of what the Federal Reserve does with interest rates. You can see that traders
are largely pricing in another rate hike, but this time, a quarter of a percent versus what we were expecting a few weeks ago of half a percent.
So, you can see, if we can pull it up here, that markets are largely expecting -- well, this is First Republic over the last six months or so. A
quick note about this, although markets are -- although those shares are higher, just take a look at how much they had fallen. But this is what
traders are expecting tomorrow when we hear from Jay Powell; the Federal Reserve Chairman, 85 percent of the traders expecting a quarter of a
percent, and 15 percent expecting a pause, which Goldman Sachs is actually advocating.
Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius saying in a research no, that it really doesn't make sense to raise rates right now with the banking
instability that we are still in the midst of seeing in part. It doesn't make sense to tie a monetary policy amidst ongoing stress in the banking
system. I think we can get this pulled up for you. That could present potential downside risk to the economy.
And Isa, what the concern is of course, is while we are still in the thick of it with these banks, even if we don't see another bank fall, we
certainly hope that we don't. Even if we don't, there will be an impact to the real economy. You think about these small and medium-sized banks who
are responsible for quite a bit of consumer lending, business lending, for example, who are now in a position where they feel like maybe they should
hold onto a bit more cash, maybe they should try to be a bit more nimble, a bit more liquid.
Well, that is less money going out the door, in terms of lending, right? And so Goldman Sachs pointing out that, that pullback and lending could
essentially be the equivalent of a rate hike of a quarter of a percent to half a percent, or considered another way, a decline in GDP growth in 2023,
about quarter to half a percentage point.
And you can argue, Isa, well, isn't that the point? Isn't what that the -- what the Federal Reserve is trying to do, in terms of slowing economic
growth? And yes, they are. Although, I don't think they want to see it this way. I don't think they want to see it at the expense of banks and sort of,
financial stability. So, a lot for the Fed to consider when they meet today and when we hear from them tomorrow.
Another thing to consider, Isa, it's what they do, but it's also critically what they say. What they say about the economy, what they say about what
they're willing to do, and what they say about the path forward.
SOARES: Indeed, it's in fact, often is what they say, isn't it? That helps to at least 10 percent with the nerves. Interesting enough performance,
President of the New York Fed said on CNN that there was no right answer --
SOLOMON: Well --
SOARES: Rahel, for the Fed. So we shall see, probably the toughest decision yet. Rahel Solomon, I know we'll touch base tomorrow. Appreciate
SOARES: Now, Britain's Metropolitan Police Commissioner is acknowledging systemic failures in the force, including a culture of harsh,
institutionalize prejudice. A new independent report has found a culture of racism, misogyny, homophobia and predator behavior permeates the
department. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says trust in the police has been hugely damaged.
Met Commissioner Rowley says he had made some cultural changes, but clearly there were not enough. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ROWLEY, COMMISSIONER, METROPOLITAN POLICE, BRITAIN: It's not simply the gusty fact that we have racists, misogynist and homophobes in the
organization. But actually, it's also about, we've got systemic failings, national(ph) failings, cultural failings, which has given them more license
to operate and we ought --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Let's get more on all of this, CNN investigative producer Katie Polglase joins me now here in London. And Katie, you have been following
the story now for some time here for us, with an investigative report on this.
But I want to get first your takeaways from what you heard today, from Baroness Casey findings. Because not only were these scathing -- it's a
scathing report, but actually pretty frightening.
KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER: Absolutely, Isa. And it's very notable that a lot of the language used, a lot of the findings that she
described, they really closely match what we were looking at last week when we erred that report, particularly to do with the violence against women.
Talking about victims not feeling believed and complaints being dismissed and patterns of predatory behavior not being spotted.
This is what we found when we spoke last week to victims, but also to fellow police officers that have reported abuse of a fellow abusive
officer. And the question is really, is this going to be the turning point? Because this --
SOARES: Yes --
POLGLASE: Is not the first inquiry. There have been inquiries over the years, dating back really decades here in the U.K. And so, the question is
whether the -- whether it would change this time, and whether as a result, public trust can really be restored.
SOARES: So when you heard that little clip there from the Met, what was your -- what did you think of it?
POLGLASE: Well, the language is strong. The language is very strong, like clearly very apologetic. But it's notable that this language has been used
before. You can see if you search online, there were a lot of clips of Rowley and other senior figures in the Met Police talking about how deeply
sorry they are, how they're very insistent, this is the time for change.
But the question is really, is that the operational reality? And if you look at how the Met has operated over the last 20 years or so, there have
been a lot of processes, there have been a lot of reforms that have been suggested by previous inquiries. The question is whether the implementation
is successful. And what's notable in this inquiry is she talks about Baroness Casey, a culture of denial.
A sense of we know best culture. And that is the question of whether or not, they're going to be able to implement these reforms successfully, it's
not just about the policy suggestions, it's about implementation.
SOARES: So cultural denial, really a broken force of boys club. In terms of reform, what are we looking -- what are we looking here? What are the
suggestions? What needs to be done?
POLGLASE: Well, it's very --
SOARES: Like you said, it's important now to get --
POLGLASE: Yes --
SOARES: That trust back.
POLGLASE: A 100 percent. And it's notable that in some of her suggestions, the reforms suggest they're quite drastic. She talks about for example one
particular firearms unit being completely disbanded. Now, whether or not that happens, that we shall see. Where she talks about completely resetting
it, creating a new ethos. We're talking about really drastic overhaul and change to the Met Police.
SOARES: Katie Polglase, thank you very much, Katie. Now, in a major assault on individual rights, Uganda's parliament has just approved a
measure allowing harsh penalties really for anyone who identifies as LGBTQ. Under it, people identifying as LGBTQ could receive up to 10 years in
prison. Its supporters say they are trying to uphold family values and their faith, and comes after Uganda's president called same-sex
One lawmaker who pointed out that the measure violates international human rights norms was dismissed as a homosexual. We will start -- stay on top of
that story for you. And still to come tonight, an Israeli minister with significant powers over the next -- West Bank says Palestinians do not
exist as people. We'll look at the fire storm of reaction. That is just ahead.
Plus, New York prosecutors could soon lay out charges against a former President of the United States, which would be unprecedented in American
history. Both their stories after this short break. You are watching CNN.
ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back, everyone.
"Racist," "unacceptable," "an incitement of violence," just some of the words being used to condemn remarks by Israeli finance minister, who says
there's no such thing as a Palestinian people.
Bezalel Smotrich triggered an international firestorm during a trip to Paris, when he claimed that Palestinians have no culture, no history and no
identity of their own. Smotrich has significant powers over the West Bank.
Just weeks ago you will remember he said the Palestinian town of Huwara should be erased by the state of Israel. Condemnation of his most recent
remarks is pouring in from right across the Middle East and the United States and the European Union.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEP BORRELL, E.U. HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS & SECURITY POLICY: We have to deplore these unacceptable comments by minister
Smotrich. It is wrong, it is disrespectful, it is dangerous, it is counterproductive to say these kinds of things, in a situation which is
already very tense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Josep Borrell there. It wasn't just what Smotrich that said that is causing alarm but also what was draped on his podium when he actually
said it. CNN's Hadas Gold has the details for you from Jerusalem.
HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of Israel's top government ministers, Bezalel Smotrich, once again causing a diplomatic
While speaking in Paris at a memorial service for a right-wing activist and former executive of the World Zionist Organization, Smotrich not only
claimed that there is no such thing as a Palestinian identity, claiming it was invented in the past century, in response to the creation of Israel.
But also on the podium was a flag that appears to show an extended map of Israel that included Gaza, the occupied West Bank and parts of Jordan.
The remarks about Palestinians and that image of a senior Israeli minister, speaking alongside that extended map, drew swift combination from the
Americans, the Europeans and Emirati Saudis and, of course, the Jordanians, who summoned Israel's ambassador in Amman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYMAN SAFADI, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The Israeli government should say clearly that this minister's comments do not
represent it. I saw the statements already made by the government that pointed to their position on this.
But we continue to follow up to make sure that we sent a clear message on our stance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD: Now without directly disavowing Smotrich, the Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said he called the Jordanian foreign
minister and assured him, quote, "of "the commitment the Israeli government has to uphold the peace treaty between the two countries."
The relationship between Israel and Jordan, who signed a peace treaty in 1994, is very important. But it can often be tense. The Jordanian kingdom
is the traditional custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, which is often the site of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police.
Smotrich's comments actually also came on the same day that Israelis and Palestinians were holding a summit attended alongside the Americans,
Egyptians and Jordanians, Sharm El Sheikh, a meeting that was meant to try and help calm tensions ahead of the upcoming Ramadan and Passover holidays.
But clearly other elements of the Israeli government, like Bezalel Smotrich, seem to be doing the opposite.
SOARES: And that was Hadas Gold there.
We want to go now to Francesca Albanese, an international attorney who serves as U.N. special rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian Territories.
SOARES: Thank you very much for taking the time to speak to. Us I want to get your reaction to these comments by Bezalel Smotrich.
What do you make of them?
FRANCESCA ALBANESE, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR, OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: I think that that statement was shocking for many reasons.
But let me point to two.
First of all, it is shocking that someone known for genocidal statements and someone known for the (INAUDIBLE) response to the recent violence
against the (INAUDIBLE) Palestinian population is allowed to deliver such a message in France at the (INAUDIBLE) European Union basically without real
consequences other than words of condemnation.
European Union has a legal framework that prohibits and demands states to punish racist and xenophobic inside public incitement. And in other cases,
like in the case of Russian propagandists, attacks against the identity of the Ukrainian people, political leaders, including U.S. President Joe
Biden, have promptly warned (ph) against the risk of genocide.
And without getting into the material condition of genocide, international law enshrines triggers states' responsibilities to make the best efforts to
prevent the incitement to the commission of atrocity.
But also the (INAUDIBLE) element that I find shocking is that this statement is not just another -- yet another slip of the tongue of an
extravagant minister. This statement has been heard before, the denial of the Palestinians as a people.
And respond to something that we have seen practiced happening and consolidating, meaning the occupation, is a denial of the existence of the
Palestinians as a people. And therefore, that the upper time (ph) is it true (ph) to manage the problem, an unoccupied people who shouldn't be
there is to be displaced and replaced.
SOARES: Like you said, it is not a slip of the tongue, we have heard incendiary comments from Smotrich and these are fight far right views. But
he is part of a government, it is important to point out here, who was democratically elected.
So what does this tell you about this Israeli government and what they stand for and what they want to achieve here?
ALBANESE: I think that this government is triggering a huge reaction among the Israeli people. But at the same time, I see it as alarming, the fact
that the Israeli public, an international community with it, seems to be more concerned with the judicial reform, within Israelis' domestic system,
rather than with the explicit genocidal rhetorics of its members vis-a-vis the Palestinians. And this is not something new.
SOARES: And so, what we have seen, at least in the last 24 hours, we have seen Jordan, as you saw, summoning the Israeli ambassador to Amman in
response of course, to that expanded map that we just saw, of Israel, displayed at an even in Paris.
The E.U., as you heard from Borrell, calling on the Israeli government to kind of disavow his comments. Then we have heard the U.S. say it utterly
objects to comments.
Is this condemnation enough in your view?
What more can be done?
What can the U.N. do here?
ALBANESE: Ending the exceptionalism that is reserved to Israel, applying international law, which requires, first and foremost, accountability
because not pursuing accountability has produced an environment of lawlessness in the case of Palestine.
But also resorting to international law to put an end to the occupation because -- and the colonization, the presence of 750,000 illegal settlers
in the West Bank, is and will continue to be the cause of tensions and violence and instability in the occupied territory.
SOARES: Again, very briefly we, talked about what we heard from the U.S., saying it utterly objects to the comments.
Are you disappointed by the U.S. comments or actions or lack thereof?
ALBANESE: Yes. I am. I have always been disappointed with U.S. policies and politics vis-a-vis the question of Israel and Palestine. Because again,
by passes international law in the name of the preservation of the status quo, which is very convenient to the Israeli colonial occupation, I am
SOARES: So what can the U.N. do in terms of applying pressure to the U.S.?
SOARES: Is there any leverage here?
ALBANESE: It is very hard. It is very hard. I mean, for me, the U.N. needs to take a solid stand because this is -- the Israeli-Palestinian question
is not a bilateral issue.
ALBANESE: It continues to be treated as a neighborly dispute. But in fact it is a multilateral question and needs to be dealt with as such by the
But there is a schism, a sort of a disconnect between what the United Nations as a General Assembly recognizes as wrong and condemns as wrong and
what the U.N. has the capacity to do.
Because the Security Council, which is critical to translate and to enforce the law is paralyzed by U.S. (INAUDIBLE).
SOARES: Francesca, thank you.
The intense gang violence gripping the Caribbean nation of Haiti is escalation. The U.N. reports more than 550 people have died this year,
including more than 200 in just the first two weeks March.
Most of the violence is around the capital, forcing families to flee their homes and communities. Rapes and kidnappings are rampant. The U.N. High
Commissioner for Human Rights is desperately calling for international help. Patrick Oppmann joins me now from Havana.
Patrick, very troubling without a doubt but not surprising given the deteriorating situation you and I've been talking about in Haiti.
So what are they actually calling for here?
Who would step in?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a chilling report when it doesn't seem it can get any worse and you realize how bad it is getting there. As
you said, hundreds killed just in recent weeks, kidnapped; tens of thousands of people displaced.
And you read these accounts of neighborhoods that always have been dangerous places in Haiti, that have become, frankly, unlivable now, where
people are being targeted randomly by snipers; where young women, women are being targeted by sexual violence just to terrorize residents of these
neighborhoods, to prevent people from going to school, from going to work, to have access to food.
And it is the result of gang warfare. Gangs are completely out of control, are fighting over turf in Haiti and are not being challenged by the police
or the government in many cases. So as bad as things have been over the recent months in Haiti, it does seem like it's a situation that gets more
and more out of control, worse by the day.
And this report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, they are calling for what they call or what they say is a specialized support force,
a force from a foreign government that would come in and essentially prop up the failing national police.
The national police have been outgunned by the gangs. As you know, I've discussed this police force in recent weeks; at times, things have turned
onto their own government because they feel like they're essentially have been given a mission that is unwinnable to try and force the gangs to stop
killing their own people.
And so, if a government will step up, we've seen Canada supplying more and more assets to the national police. But of course, no government at this
point is saying that they're willing to put boots on the ground, because it is such a dangerous situation, a situation that the government, that the
police are unable to bring back under control.
So it is unclear what will a foreign government be able to do?
Of course will have more resources, properly trained police but, as we've seen in years past, when a foreign government gets involved in Haiti, they
don't necessarily make things better.
And this report notes that, if a foreign government goes in, they will be looking at a mission that could last not weeks or months but years. And the
fear, of course, is not about how bad things are right now but how much worse they could come or they could become.
SOARES: Yes. An important context there from our Patrick Oppmann in Havana. Thank you very much, Patrick. Great to see you.
A powerful earthquake hit the Hindu Kushner region of Afghanistan, killing at least three. The 6.5 magnitude earthquake caused tremors in Pakistan,
killing at least three people there, including an 8-year-old girl. A local official says that more than 41 others have been injured. The tremors also
were felt in India.
CNN personnel in Islamabad and New Delhi say that they could feel the ground shaking.
Still to come, tonight, a New York grand jury is deciding whether to indict Donald Trump in a hush money scheme involving adult film star Stormy
Daniels. What we know as of now, that's next.
SOARES: Now in New York, a grand jury is expected to decide whether to indict former U.S. President Donald Trump. Prosecutors are asserting that
he violated campaign finance laws by giving hush money to Stormy Daniels, pardon me, before the 2016 presidential election.
Trump denies he had an affair with Daniels. New York and Washington are now on alert ready for the potential protests. Kara Scannell is outside the
courthouse in New York.
For day two, Kara, what are you learning this hour about the timing of all of this and when this may come?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is just a waiting game at this point. Yesterday we did see a witness come before a grand jury, a
former attorney to Marshall Cohen. He went in at the request of the Trump team.
They wanted this witness to get before the grand jury because they've already heard a lot of evidence presented by prosecutors and this was an
opportunity to put in one side of their story, to undercut Michael Cohen, who's a star witness for the government, to undercut what he said.
So that witness was in yesterday for three hours.
Now the big question is, when will the DA's office make a decision as to whether or not they'll bring charges against the former president?
It's possible the grand jury could have questions, they could want to hear from other witnesses or maybe this is the time when the DA's office
deliberates and before they come out to make a decision. So it's a bit of a waiting game here until we know what the next steps will be.
SOARES: And Kara, if he's indicted, do we know how that announcement would be announced?
SCANNELL: Well, the way that it usually works for the typical defendant is that the prosecutors will go to the grand jury, present them with an
indictment, the grand jury would vote on it. If 12 of them voted in favor of bringing the charges, then the defendant's attorneys would be notified
and some kind of date of surrender would be.
That's if it's a non violent felon or somebody they're worried about fleeing the country.
In this case, this is an extraordinary situation. It would be an unprecedented move to indict a former president. President Trump has Secret
Service security. There would probably be some kind of an arrangement for him to be brought in safely into New York to be processed here.
He'd have to get his mug shot taken, be fingerprinted and then appear before a judge for an arraignment, where he would likely enter a plea of
not guilty or guilty. Then he would be escorted out of here because this is not the type of crime that they're weighing, that would require someone to
be detained while awaiting trial.
So there are a lot of logistics that they'd have to work out --
SCANNELL: -- particularly involving security since he's a former president. Those are some of the things that they're discussing behind the
scenes of just how they would secure this building and secure the person. Isa.
SOARES: Yes, we're very much waiting to see. This Kara Scannell, thank you very much.
We'll be back after this short break.
SOARES: This just in to CNN. We show these pictures of protests and clashes that erupted tonight, excuse me, in Paris over the government's new
We brought you this story earlier this week. These are pictures from moments ago in fact from the French capital. Protesters there are burning
trash cans and scuffling with police who tried to clear them out. As you can see, the French unions have called for nine nationwide strikes against
the pension reform on Thursday.
And the legislation, if you remember, would see the age of retirement go from 62 to 64 for most workers.
They are pretty angry, I think it's fair to say, as you can see from those scenes, given, of course, the vote yesterday. The government survived two
no confidence votes in parliament following, of course, this pension reform law.
And this means it moves ahead and unions and protesters have just not been happy about. It we will stay on top of the story for you.
SOARES: And that does it for us for this evening. Thank you very much for your company. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next. I
shall see you tomorrow. Have a wonderful day. Bye-bye.