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Isa Soares Tonight
Israel's Parliament Passes The First Part Of The Government's Sweeping Judicial Overhaul Package Into Law; Wildfires In Greece Causes Mass Evacuations; Moscow Continues Its Relentless Attack On The City Of Odesa; Protests Erupt As Israel Reshapes Power Of Courts; Texas Governor Refuses To Remove Water Barriers; "Barbie" Dominates Weekend With $337 Million Globally. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired July 24, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Israel's parliament passed the first
part of the government's sweeping judicial overhaul package into law. We are live on the streets of Jerusalem for you. Then out of control.
Wildfires in Greece forced thousands to evacuate. We'll speak to a tourist stranded on the Island of Rhodes.
Plus, the Kremlin continues its relentless attack on the city of Odesa. We go inside a cathedral Ukraine says was nearly destroyed by Russian
missiles. But first this evening, protesters in Israel say they will not give up, vowing to only intensify the mass resistance after the first part
of the government sweeping judicial overhaul package was voted into law today.
Thousands of demonstrations, of demonstrators have been out on the streets, warning that Israel is becoming, quote, "a dictatorship". The bill removes
a significant check on government power, weakening the Supreme Court's oversight of executive as well as legislative actions. Parliament passed
the measure unanimously, but only because all opposition lawmakers walked out, as you can see there.
Some of them shouting, shame. Israel's defense minister was among those voting in favor, despite threats from thousands of military reservists to
stop volunteering for service if the bill is passed. And the vote happened just hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu return to Knesset after
having a pacemaker implanted. He addressed the nation just a short time ago, in the last 30 minutes or so, defending the overhaul as necessary for
democracy and extending his hand to the opposition. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL (voice-over):Today, we performed democratic need. We put a correction to the reasonableness clause.
According to most people of Israel, this is the essence of democracy, to do what the majority wish. The coalition acted in any way to reach agreements
with the opposition, and it's not taken for granted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Says the essence of democracy. Let's get the very latest now from our Hadas Gold and Frederik Pleitgen for us live in Jerusalem. Hadas, first
to you, we heard a short clip there, so you heard it from Netanyahu who spoke in the last 20-25 minutes. What more do you say, what stood out to
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, what stood out to me was he was really digging in, saying that this was carrying out democracy, not
ruining democracy because it is what the voters voted for. He blamed the opposition, he said, for the compromised negotiations that have been taken
over the last few months for those failing.
And he said though, in spite of all of that, that he still wants to try to have continued negotiations with the opposition before the next stage of
this overhaul, because keep in mind, the legislation that passed today, that will likely still see legal challenges. It's just one aspect of this
massive judicial overhaul that will completely reshape the Israeli judiciary.
Benjamin Netanyahu also had some harsh words for the protesters, saying that they were blocking people going about their everyday lives. And he
also had probably the strongest term, was for those Israeli military reservists who have said that they will not serve if this legislation
There's a big question now about what will happen if they get called up for duty, will they refuse service? Will they face legal repercussions? This is
actually something that the opposition leaders have called on these reservists to hold off on these protests until the legal challenges go
through the Supreme Court, because we've already seen a legal challenge filed to the bill that passed today.
And ironically, what this means is the Supreme Court may essentially be ruling on whether they can rule against the government in the future. And
that could potentially lead to a constitutional crisis in a country that has no constitution because the government may be feeling differently than
what the Supreme Court may rule.
But as we're seeing, this is not stopping the protesters, this only seems to be angering the protesters even further. The fact that this bill passed
today, and I think we should watch very closely what happens on the streets because things could be getting potentially even more dangerous,
potentially even violent as the night continues. Isa.
SOARES: On that note, let's go to Fred. Fred, it seems the crowds behind you, as I was seeing there, still quite lively. It's five minutes past 9:00
in the evening. What are the protesters telling you? Are they going to continue their opposition, Fred, to this judicial overhaul?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Isa, well, they certainly said that they will, and you know, one of the things
that Hadas was just saying is that Benjamin Netanyahu obviously had some pretty harsh words for the protesters. As you can imagine, the protesters
here also have some pretty harsh words for Benjamin Netanyahu.
I want to take you through the crowd that we're seeing here outside the Supreme Court. As you can see, they are still here in force, and they are
still very loud. And they are also saying that they are going to remain here in the streets until what has happened today in Israeli parliament, in
the Knesset is repealed. Now, one of the things that I've been asking people is whether or not they actually feel confident that they can change
Because Benjamin Netanyahu obviously came out today and said, look, essentially, this is the will of the majority of the people. What he has
pushed through today through the Israeli parliament. But a lot of them say that they are still very hopeful, and a lot of people that we speak to also
say that they believe that this is really a historic moment for this nation and certainly for the democracy of this nation.
And one of the interesting things that we've been seeing as we've been looking through the crowd is there's a lot of parents who are coming with
their children. And there are parents who have been coming up to us and saying, look, my son or daughter has served in the military or will serve
in the military. And of course, one of the things that has been so controversial is those reservists here, who are now saying that they are
going to refuse to serve.
Of course, the unity of the military is so important here for this country. And it's really one of the reasons also that people are coming out here and
are saying that they need to make their voices heard. And certainly, from what we can see here from the folks that we're seeing, the folks that we've
been speaking to, they say that they are nowhere near backing down.
In fact, maybe we look down the street here, you can still see that there are still a lot of people who are coming and going, most people coming
here. There was a bit of commotion because Hadas was talking about how there is obviously the danger of possible confrontations. There were a few
police officers, also some horseback mounted police that tried to go through here.
They were immediately received with a lot of boos and a lot of whistles. So, you can see, this is a very peaceful protest, I do have to say, but you
can see, obviously, people here on the streets, very angry, vowing to stay out here and vowing to also, of course, block places like this one as the
night continues and through the next couple of days as well. Isa.
SOARES: Yes, and Hadas, I mean, these protests have been ongoing for months. And the scale of the opposition to this bill is significant, not
just of course on the streets, also in the Knesset. But there's talks of a larger labor strike, businesses on strike, and as you mentioned, thousands
of military reservists say they'll refuse to volunteer. What would this mean then for Israel and its security? What is the next step here?
GOLD: Well, the Israeli military reservists is a major question, because amongst those who have said they will not serve are the Air Force, some of
them were senior members of the Air Force and the military reserves who are often called on, and would potentially be called on in a major conflict.
Now, we don't know exactly how the numbers of them, which ones are pilots, which ones are what.
But that could have major impacts on any major operation that Israel might want to take forward. Now, we've already seen the impact on this
legislation on the economy. I mean, even just over the past few months, there have been several reports and studies done about Israeli firms,
especially high-tech firms been more wary about investing in Israel. Today, we did see the stock markets take a slight hit.
And we could see that major labor union, the one that essentially shut down the country last March when they announced a general strike. They are
considering another strike. We're also hearing from for example, the Israeli Medical Association reports that they may be considering a strike
and reducing services just to emergency services. So this can have a major impact.
It's also going to have an impact, Isa, on U.S. relations. We just got a statement in the last few hours from the White House calling it unfortunate
that the vote took place today with the slimmest possible majority, saying that they understand there are talks for compromise for the next part of
They hope that takes place. I mean, you do have to watch that because we did hear from President Biden twice in the last week before this vote took
place, trying to encourage Netanyahu, trying to encourage Israeli leaders, pump the brakes, try to have more negotiations, try to come to a broad
consensus on this, but clearly, Benjamin Netanyahu and his government felt that they just needed to push forward.
Keep in mind, of course, the pressures, political pressures that Benjamin Netanyahu is facing from his right flank, I think he would have been at a
bit of a risk, his power could have been at risk had he not had this vote go through today.
SOARES: Yes, meanwhile, Ben-Gvir saying this is only the beginning. Thank you very much, Hadas Gold, and Fred Pleitgen, we'll keep you up-to-date
with the very latest happening there on the streets of Tel Aviv. Thank you very much. And as you can see there, these are live pictures, and yes, they
are. We'll have much more on the story ahead in the show.
We'll speak with the former U.S. State Department official who is deeply critical of Prime Minister Netanyahu saying he is obsessed with his own
political survival, and has created, quote, "a monster threatening to disavow Israeli democracy." That interview happening in about 20 minutes.
"We are at war". Those words from the Greek Prime Minister earlier as his country battles major wildfires that have broken out on new fronts.
This video shows one of the worst places happening on the island of Rhodes. The fire service said the situation is out of control. And this year is a
devastating damage left behind as you can see there. Fires are burning right across the country as you can see on this map, stretching the Greek
Fire Service to its limits, with temperatures set to rise again on Tuesday.
Officials are scrambling to evacuate tens of thousands of tourists, and a number of airlines have already begun repatriation flights. CNN's Sam Kiley
has this report now from the Greek Island of Leros.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a regular visit of wildfire, and no one knows where or when it will strike.
This is tourism in the 21st century. The latest maelstrom in southern Europe, Rhodes, an island of ancient ruins facing a modern apocalypse.
Intense heat waves have turned forests into desiccated tinder yearning for a spark to roar into flames. And anything that fails to flee the inferno
has little chance of survival. Greek authorities have evacuated tens of thousands from popular resorts at peak season. And the government says it's
the largest such operation in the country's history.
KEVIN SALES, BRITISH TOURIST: All her money, passports, clothing, we had to lend a woman some of my wife's clothes because she had nothing to wear. It
KILEY: British tour operators are flying empty planes here to bring desperate tourists home.
(on camera): Powerful winds have made life just about unbearable for people on these islands living through this heat wave, but those self same winds
are fanning the flames of these infernos.
(voice-over): And the problem is spreading. The latest overnight, the island of Corfu where thousands have now been evacuated, and police are
bolstering their ranks in anticipation of more to come. The Greek government has been battling wildfires across the country for a week,
during what's expected to be the longest heat wave this country has ever seen.
As temperature records are shattered across Europe and the world, every day, our planet has become slightly more unlivable.
JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO, POPE, CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): We are experiencing here and in many countries extreme climatic events. Please, I
renew my appeal to the leaders of the nations to do something more concrete to limit polluting emissions. It is an urgent challenge and cannot be put
off. It concerns everyone. Let us protect our common home.
KILEY: As heat waves and fires are escalating yearly in southern Europe, the threat is now even perhaps to the pontiff's own home. Sam Kiley, CNN,
SOARES: And as you heard there, Rhodes Island is one of the places where the wildfires have been burning most fiercely. Katherine Waldemar Brown was
evacuated from the hotel where she was staying with her children on Sunday to a safer location in Rhodes. She joins me now on the phone. And
Katherine, just give us -- just describe for our viewers what the last 24 hours have been like for you and your family?
KATHERINE WALDEMAR BROWN, TOURIST FLEEING RHODES ISLAND (via telephone): Exhausting and very sweaty and very chaotic.
SOARES: What exact --
BROWN: Is the few words I'd use.
SOARES: Just explain to -- explain to us where you were, and what it's been like for you as you're waiting to come back home now?
BROWN: Yes, we were on the west of the island. And we could -- we knew there was a fire, there was smoke and you could see the sea planes.
But it suddenly got very worse on Saturday afternoon, and by Sunday evening, you could see the sun, it was -- there was going to be an
evacuation. We thought earlier in the day that we'd be OK, we were having other hotel load, people evacuated to us. So we were quite complacent at
that stage, so you can at least, decide.
And then it developed really quickly in the evening. And at 10 O'clock, there was -- there was an announcement which no one could really hear what
they were saying. But the effect was just go now. We didn't know where we were going, we didn't know how we were getting there, and when we got to
the roads, they were cattle trucks in one bus, people were fighting to get on.
I think in actual fact, we only went quite a short distance. If they'd said, look, this is where you're going, I think some people would have to
walk. But as it was, everyone was trying to shove themselves on these cattle trucks. And people were trying to take their luggage and just
staying just as we arrived(ph), and left at the roadside.
And we have to leave with the small bags that we take, and so, we just had the clothes we were wearing on our path to -- we were sent to -- we went a
short distance in a bus -- trucks. We were then pointed in a direction and told to walk, again, didn't know where we were going, got to a beach, and
then it was obvious when we got to the beach, that they were going to take us off the beach on boats.
But there were between 1,500 and 2,000 people, and they were sending small boats, some of them were army boats, some were civilian boats taking about
ten people at a time offshore to ferries. And the process took a long time. There were people not behaving very well, it was every man for himself.
After four hours, we managed to get on one of the boats.
And we got taken to a ferry. And then -- so there was four or five hours on the ferry to Rhodes town, which is on the far west of the island. Then we
got taken on a bus, again, we didn't know where we were going, and we were taken to a school, but there was nothing there, and nobody there to tell
us. So, we waited there, and eventually, this army of Greek ladies came with volunteers, came with food and provisions and water.
And at that point, I just started looking for a hotel because It was obvious that it was going to be chaos for a couple of days.
SOARES: Incredibly scary, I imagine for you and your children, Katherine, we looked at some of the photos, I'm just going to ask my producer to bring
those back up that you took. And it looks like --
BROWN: Yes --
SOARES: An inferno, the photos that we took that you shared on our screen, what are you hearing now, clearly communication or poor communication has
been a problem as you've outlined there, Katherine. What are you hearing from authorities, when are you going to be able to come back home? Have you
been given a time, a date?
BROWN: Well, I -- no, we're flying back on Wednesday anyway. And my understanding is that, that flight will go. But they're trying to get us on
an earlier flight. But I -- we've only got one phone charger between all of us. So, my phone died last night, and when I charged it in the morning, I
then got a message, saying, get to the airport now, we've got a flight for you to London.
By the time I saw the message, I had already missed that. So -- but then, when I got to reception, we thought we'd go to the airport anyway. And when
I got a reception to call a taxi, there were -- the representatives from our holiday company were there, so I was able to talk to them, and I said,
take us to the airport, we all -- you know, you're on another list for another flight.
But worst-case scenario, Wednesday, so and we're quite lucky we managed to get a hotel room. Most people are just sleeping on the floor. And a lot of,
you know, very young children, that's lots more unpleasant for those people and for us, really. So I'm happy to wait for Wednesday, but we may be going
tomorrow, I don't know.
SOARES: Katherine, do stay safe, thank you for taking the time to speak to us. I hope your journey back home goes safely. Thank you very much,
BROWN: Thank you. A goodbye, bye.
SOARES: Bye. Still to come tonight, dozens of monuments in Ukraine are now badly damaged as Russia attacks the city of Odesa. The latest is a historic
cathedral. We'll show you what's left of it. Plus, Spain caught in political limbo. The country's snap election was meant to choose new
leadership. But now its future is unclear. Both of those stories after this short break.
SOARES: An official from Ukraine's Defense Ministry tells CNN their country carried out a drone attack on Moscow just hours ago. It's rare for the
Ukrainian side to claim responsibility for these kinds of brazen attacks. The Russian Defense Ministry says two drones were, quote, "suppressed by
electronic warfare means without causing injuries or serious damage."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had promised that Moscow would feel the retaliation for attacking the city of Odesa for several days. And as
Ukraine vows to respond, it says Russian missiles have almost destroyed a historic cathedral in Odesa. Alex Marquardt shows us the damage.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (on camera): President Zelenskyy had said that Russia would feel the retaliation for all the
strikes that we've seen here in Odesa. And now, Ukraine's Defense Intelligence director claiming responsibility for that overnight drone
strike in Moscow, which did do less damage, far less damage than we've seen here in Odesa for the past few days.
We are in the Transfiguration Cathedral, church officials have asked us to put these helmets on because of all the work that's going on, all the
debris that is falling from the roof. I want to show you this corner of the church, this is where there is the most destruction, this is where we are
told, that the missile or rocket came plunging through the roof, going down at least two stories, that daylight, that sun coming through the roof and
really brightening up this otherwise dark cathedral.
Over here is the altar, you can see up there, those pillars now off to the side. That altar just leaning over, and really only staying upright because
it's leaning up against the wall. And then, farther up, is the beautiful dome of this cathedral, all of its windows have been blown out. Below that,
the frescoes have also been knocked down, we've seen large sections of the roof also coming down as these workers seek to clear it.
They say that will take several weeks, but it could be months or years before this cathedral is fully repaired. The nave goes all the way back
there, and in the corner, there was a fire. We're told that a shockwave started an electrical fire. Now, this church was destroyed in 1936 when
Stalin was in power. It was rebuilt when Ukraine got independence, and now, of course, in a significant state of disrepair.
It is attacks like these, on civilian infrastructure, on buildings that, frankly, have nothing to do with this conflict, that now has President
Zelenskyy calling for more air defense support from western allies, for what he calls a full-fledged air shield for Ukraine. Alex Marquardt, CNN,
SOARES: Well, the Kremlin denies hitting this cathedral, and claims without providing any evidence that it was damaged by missile from Ukrainian side.
Our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is here with me for more to discuss all of this. And Nick, what we have seen today, what Alex just
showed us there follows a week of really bruising attacks we saw in Odesa, Mykolaiv, now in Danube River near Romania, of course, a NATO member. Just
put this all into perspective for us. How do you see the counterattacks here by Russia?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, Russia pulled out of the grain deal, and counter-intuitively, it's now gone after Ukraine's
grain storage facilities in Odesa. And now, it's gone after the backup route, of course, the Black Sea grain deal that Russia pulled out of was
the way for Ukraine to get most of its grain out to the -- out to the world, and particular the third world, the developing world that is really
most affected by the impact of the -- of lack of Ukrainian grain.
The Danube was the alternative. You take it by barge down the Danube River to Europe. So, what has Russia now done, it's now gone after ports actually
on the Danube, but worse than that or perhaps more troubling than that and upping the ante of the situation --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: The Danube at that point in the river, perhaps a few 100 meters across the Romanian border is literally on the other side of the river. So,
in a way, Russia is playing with fire because if one of their missiles missed by a few 100 meters, and that's not uncommon for Russia weapon
systems. That would land in a NATO country, and then that would be potentially an attack on NATO. This -- so, not surprisingly today --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: That U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his counterpart in Romania, the foreign minister there to talk about security.
SOARES: Playing with fire you say, yet, I've heard different guests on our show in the last week, do not sound optimistic at all that they can bring
Russia back to the table when it comes to this negotiating with this grain deal. What is Russia hoping to achieve then? Is it hoping that the West
will give into some of their pressures to bring them back to this deal if there's no other alternative, because at the moment, there doesn't seem to
be an alternative.
ROBERTSON: It doesn't seem that Russia wants to come back into the deal in any time in the near future. It's trying to reshape the narrative. It's
offered sub-Saharan African countries its own grain. It said its grain -- its grain harvests are going to be big this year, and that it can supply
and replace what can't come from Ukraine. So, it's offering itself to all these nations who are dependent on the grain flows from Ukraine and Russia,
an alternative. But it's not something that sells in most of the western world --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: But Russia seems to be in a very tight spot because this is a desperate move. Because it seems to these sort of saying, we're not the bad
guys here to all these smaller nations who are beginning to see that actually, yes, they are. So, it's a losing gambit for Russia it appears,
not one that's going to bring them closer to a deal.
SOARES: And very briefly in terms of Ukraine, how does -- then, is there a way out for Ukraine in terms of its delivery of its grains too?
ROBERTSON: Well, overland by -- to Europe --
SOARES: But just it will be more difficult, right?
ROBERTSON: Logistically, and it's much harder, you know, 35, I mean, to give you some rough numbers here, 35 million tons of grain have shipped out
through the Black Sea over the past year or so, since the deal has been in place. That's about 18 billion loaves of bread --
SOARES: Wow --
ROBERTSON: According to U.S. Secretary of State Antony --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: Blinken. So, that gives you a sense of how much foodstuff has come out. It's much harder to ship that all by road because the containers
are smaller, and this is why the Danube was important.
SOARES: Nic, thank you very much, I appreciate it. And still to come tonight, Israel's prime minister is defending a controversial new law that
weakens the Supreme Court, saying it's necessary for democracy. We'll speak with a former State Department official, that is just ahead.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Return now to our top story, fresh outrage on the streets of Israel after parliament formally approved a key part of
the government judicial overhaul plans. Demonstrators vowed they will not give up their months long resistance, warning the country is on the brink
of dictatorship. The bill passed today strips the Supreme Court's power to declare government actions unreasonable. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
rebuffed repeated calls from the United States Israel's, of course, strongest ally to pause the overhaul effort. The White House issued a
statement calling today's vote unfortunate.
We spoke to our Fred Pleitgen if you remember the top of the show, he's in Jerusalem. He joins me now because I've seen the anger is continuing in the
streets and I'm hearing from my team that water cannons have also been out, Fred, just based on the picture of what you're saying.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Isa. Yeah, they certainly have and we certainly did see somewhat of an escalation in the past couple of
minutes. We move forward a little bit, you can see that the cops came in here with a few officers. They look a little bit lost now as the protesters
just said that they aren't going to budge. Right now, it seems to us as though there's some negotiations or something going on between the
protesters and the cop.
We can also see if we move forward here, and this is something that happened just a couple of minutes ago, there was a charge by the police
with water cannon trucks and those water cannon trucks are actually still around here. The police charged the two water cannon trucks. I think that
we can go over here. We move forward that we can see those water cannon trucks here behind the crowd. The protesters then dispersed for a little
bit, but came right back together and vowed that they are going to stand their ground.
I think you can see a pretty good scene right here as you can see some people kneeling down in front of the police officers. Again, some of them
wet already from those charges that we saw with the water cannon truck and then if we turn around, you can see the water cannon trucks right there.
Those were used by the cops. In fact, right now you can also see that the police, Israeli police moving in with what appears to possibly be more
police officers. Doesn't appear like riot police right now, but the cops certainly moving in in more force than they have before. They had charged
the protesters before they had charged with water cannon trucks. Again, for now the protesters vowing to stay here, saying they are going to stand
But I think what we can clearly see is that there is a lot of rage here on the streets certainly of Jerusalem as we know and in some other places as
well. And for now, the protesters are telling us they believe it's so important for them to stay out here right now and voice their anger at the
decisions that were made today in the Israeli parliament, but they say they are not going to budge. You can see here more police officers coming out
right now, Isa.
SOARES: Yes. And in the last, what, 40 minutes or so Fred, when you and I were talking, we heard from Benjamin Netanyahu who basically said this is
the essence of democracy. What has been the response to those words to what we heard from Netanyahu? How did they respond to that? Because they're
clearly not budging.
PLEITGEN: Yes, yes. I think a lot of people are pretty angry at the words from Benjamin Netanyahu, certainly folks that we've been speaking to here.
As you can see, we turned around again. The police officers right there on the one side of the protesters, on the other side you can see folks dancing
over there, sort of having a party in response again saying they aren't going to budge. But quite frankly, a lot of people told us that had heard
what Benjamin Netanyahu said that they were quite angry about it. They say they don't believe that this is the will of democracy. They say this is not
democracy in action.
They feel that they're being marginalized. They say that they believe the Supreme Court of this country has a vital and important role in checking
the power of those who are in power here in this country. And they feel that what has happened today specifically is very bad for Israeli democracy
and indeed some are saying (INAUDIBLE) again at some point of Israeli democracy if it continues and if it stands. And as you can seek, the folks
here are coming out and saying they are vowing to not let it stand over here. You can see one gentleman who's just come out and the police moving
in, moving forward, possibly clearing some of the protesters here.
Obviously, the situation here on streets escalating here right now as the cops' stop telling us to move back, we're going to move back real quickly
so we're not in the way. They're obviously trying to go forward and clear out the square right now. With a couple of dozen police officers, you can
see how that goes, apparently trying to peep people up who have sat down on the streets and clear them away. But the protesters here have been pretty
vocal about the fact that they want to stay around and right now, as you can see, they are screaming back at the police officers who are sort of
trying to move in. Not a very large police force as you can see, also the cops not wearing riot gear, but certainly trying to get the protesters to
Some of them, we can see right now pretty good in our shot right here, that some of them have actually rocked arms trying to prevent the police
officers from carrying them away. They're obviously civil disobedience trying to lock on, trying to stop the cops from clearing this place out. We
can see the police officers already trying to get people to move, trying to pick people up. Again, Isa, in the last sort of 40 minutes since we spoke
at the top of your show, the situation certainly here has escalated considerably as now the police are moving in in force to try and get the
protesters to disperse again the protesters saying they are going to have none of.
You can see some scuffles are breaking out over there. I saw some pushing and shoving going on between the cops and between some of the protesters. A
lot of anger here on the streets after what happened in the Knesset today. Among the folks, as you can see here, a lot of them saying that they
believe that this is something that is detrimental to Israeli democracy, also of course detrimental to Israel's relations with the United States as
well. Of course, the U.S. by far, Israel's most important ally, and there has already been criticism coming from the White House after the decisions
that were made in the Knesset today, calling it unfortunate.
And certainly, the folks that you see on the streets here saying they believe it's unfortunate as well, Isa.
SOARES: Yeah. And it's, what, 9:38 in the evening. I remember you telling me the protests throughout the day have been mostly peaceful. They're
having something like 19 arrests or so, that's the last thing. But we also heard comments today not just from Benjamin Netanyahu, but also from Ben-
Gvir who said that this is only the beginning. And that is the concern, isn't it, Fred, that this could potentially lay the groundwork for a
political crisis here after what we have seen of months of protesters.
PLEITGEN: Yes, I think you're absolutely right, Isa. I think a political crisis, and possibly also a constitutional crisis, of course, this country
doesn't have a written constitution. Now you can see really the cops and the protesters going at it. This is clearly breaking out into a melee here.
Police pushing people away, obviously trying to clear this area. Right now, to me, still seems to be a lot of pushing and shoving going on. But as you
can see, certainly a lot of anger. But I want to get back to what you said because you're absolutely right, you had Ben-Gvir saying that this is just
Of course we know the vote that happened in the Knesset today is just part of the flurry of laws that the government wants to enact, which is
essentially a large scale overhaul of this country's judiciary that would take away a lot of the power from the Supreme Court that would give power
to the government that is currently in power.
Or more power than before, or putting judges into office, it would make it non-binding for ministers to decide to listen or not to listen to judicial
advisors, but before that, they did have to listen to. So certainly, a lot of people believe that some of the checks and balances of this country,
because it does not have a written constitution and because it relies so much on the Supreme Court to keep the government that is in power in check,
but some of that could be lost. And right, now you can really see how this is descending here as these police officers now dragging people away who
had sat down and who were essentially doing a sit-in here, trying to stop the cops from clearing the square.
Obviously, you know, very, very tense atmosphere, and parts violent atmosphere here. I was just a photographer in the south of the way of the
police. Really starting to be some pretty ugly scenes here on the streets of Jerusalem, Isa.
SOARES: Yeah, do stay safe, Fred. But we're starting to see, as you say, police moving into those protesters that you would say had their arms
locked. We've seen these last protests throughout the day. We've also been seeing if the last several months in fact, and they have said they will
continue their opposition to this. And there's even talks of larger labor strike here, businesses on strike, military reservists on strike. This is
quite a political pickle for Netanyahu.
PLEITGEN: Oh, yes. Certainly. It's a big political pickle, if you will, for Benjamin Netanyahu. Definitely very difficult situation for him and that's
definitely also one of the reasons why he came out tonight and decided to address the nation, to do this address to the nation because he understands
that there is so much anger on the streets here. Of course, he tried to justify himself. He tried to justify the decisions that his government has
made, certainly this flurry again of laws for a judicial overhaul to get through. But as we can see here, a lot of people here aren't having it. And
you're absolutely right, there are businesses who say that they are going on strike.
There are people, there are organizations who are saying that they are going to on strike. The medical organizations say that they want to do a
work stop. So, certainly, this is slowly ballooning into a big problem, not just for Benjamin Netanyahu, but for Israel as a state. And you can see
this right now here all the streets of Jerusalem that some of these people who have been sitting down currently being dragged away by the police
officers, just sitting there having a lot of trouble doing that. People obviously trying to defend themselves, trying to make sure that the cops
can't pull them away. But certainly, some pretty ugly scenes.
And I think you're absolutely right to point out that this is having a big ripple effect throughout Israeli business. We saw the stock market today
here in Israel essentially tank, go down by a great deal. This confidence is obviously down. Someone's obviously right in front of us seems to have
been injured here tended to by a police officer. But again, a big ripple effect on Israeli businesses on the society on a lot of societal
organizations. And, of course, we also know, Isa, that there have already been challenges, or already an official challenge to this law to try and
get the constitution, to get the supreme court itself to declare this law to be illegal.
And so, this is something that we can see that many, many people here on the streets in society, but also in politics trying to prevent this, Isa.
SOARES: Fred Pleitgen for us in the streets of Jerusalem, and things are escalating rather quickly. As you see there, police trying to disperse the
crowd to water cannons now, people sitting in the streets with their arms locked. Fred, we'll give you a couple of minutes to regroup, but we'll come
back to you in the next few minutes.
But I want to get more exactly what the scenes we have been seeing in Israel in Jerusalem early with sworn Tel Aviv as well. Our next guest says
Mr. Netanyahu has thrown Israel into crisis because of his "obsession" with his own political survival.
Aaron David Miller served in the State Department as a Middle East negotiator. He's now a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace. Aaron, great to have you on the show. I'm not sure whether you were able to hear our Fred Pleitgen for us there in Jerusalem,
situation in the ground escalating very quickly with these protesters. But this is, of course, only the first part of the government's package to kind
of weaken the power of the courts. Just explain why this bill is such a dangerous shift for Israel.
AARON DAVID MILLER, SENIOR FELLOW AT THE CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: First of all, Isa, thanks for having me. Look, in a
system like Israel's, no formal bill of rights, no written constitution, no bicameral legislature, the judiciary is the only constraint and break on
power. So, that means that the executive, the prime minister, and the legislator of the Knesset basically are one. And this government has
decided for any number of reasons.
Including Mr. Netanyahu's own legal travails, that it needs to essentially emasculate the independence of the Supreme Court. This is the first step.
Probably in Mr. Netanyahu's mind, it was the least objectionable of the some of the legal reforms, some of his ministers want to achieve. But I'm
afraid the situation here is going to get worse before it gets worse. Protest movements have now emerged as a force in their own right not just
for Mr. Netanyahu, but for any Israeli prime minister and the government, led by Mr. Netanyahu, has no incentive to compromise.
Netanyahu looked at the polls and he knows what they show. If you have elections in Israel today, he could not form a government so he must
maintain this coalition filled with radical fundamentalist, extremist ministers even with the risk of undermining, destroying the Israeli
institutions, undermining the cohesion of the country, and injecting a fair amount of tension into US relationship. It's a marathon, Isa. It's not a
hundred yard dash and it seems to me there's no way out right now.
SOARES: And Aaron, on that, I mean the White House has, and President Biden, as he said more specifically, has expressed repeated concerns in
fact about the overhaul, calling it unfortunate today, saying they should look for consensus. Where does this leave the U.S.-Israeli relations here?
MILLER: You know, I think that the president's trying to navigate a very fine line. In one hand, I'd work for Republican Democratic administrations.
American presidents don't like to fight and they have open breaches with Israeli prime ministers. It's annoying, it's distracting, it's messy, it's
politically problematic. I think Mr. Biden is trying to find a way to navigate a line between embracing the prime minister.
You saw the point counterpoint with president Herzog's visit to Washington and the fact that the prime minister got an open invitation, no date, no
venue. On one hand, he's not going to embrace it, but on the other hand, he has no desire, it seems to me, to impose any cost or consequences. Not just
on the issue of Israeli internal politics, but on what the Israeli government is doing in the West Bank, which is pursuing a set of
annexationist policies in everything but name.
So, again, I think it's going to be very difficult for Mr. Biden to continue to walk that line but I believe he will.
SOARES: Aaron David Miller, appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. A very busy night in Israel, as you can imagine. Thank you very much,
MILLER: You bet.
SOARES: And still to come tonight, tensions in Texas. The state's governor fights back over his controversial method of stopping illegal crossings.
We'll have more on his defiant message to president Biden, that is next.
SOARES: See you in court, Mr. President. That is the defiant message from the Republican governor of Texas over an order to remove floating barriers
in the Rio Grande.
They were installed to combat illegal crossings over the U.S.-Mexico border. But last week, the Justice Department threatened legal action
unless they were removed by today. Well, that deadline expired about 50 minutes ago, about 49 minutes ago. Rosa Flores has been following this
story. She enjoys me now from Eagle Pass, Texas near the southern border.
So, Flora what is the latest then? Rosa.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me show you because this is what Texas Defiance looks like on the Rio Grande. These are the buoys that are
in question, Isa. These are the buoys that the U.S. and the state of Texas are now going to be apparently in a court battle over. The USDOJ is asking
the state of Texas to remove these buoys and the state of Texas is digging in his heels, saying that it's not going to remove the buoys, that it's
ready to take the United States to court.
Now this is an international incident. The Rio Grande is the international boundary between the United States and Mexico. Mexico's top diplomat
complained to Washington about these buoys because there are treaties that govern the flow of this water, the flow of this river, and Mexico is
concerned that these buoys could be on Mexican soil. And they said that they're sending a team to verify that they're in fact in U.S. soil and not
But the latest, of course, is that the USDOJ gave the state of Texas a deadline today and the state of Texas decided to respond. Governor Greg
Abbott responded with "Mr. President, Texas is going to see you in court" and so now that's what's next. We're waiting to see what that filing is
going to look like, what the USDOJ is going to file against the state of Texas for the removal of these buoys. But, Isa, I have to leave you with
this because this border battle is over something that is not even stopping illegal immigration. We've seen migrants cross this morning so there's a
battle between the USDOJ in Texas over something that is not even effective to stop illegal immigration. Isa.
SOARES: Very good point. Rosa Flores there for us. It's going to be a long legal battle, I suspect. Thank you very much, Rosa. And we'll be back after
this short break.
SOARES: Well, it was a Barbie world at the box office this weekend, the movie about the beloved dull defied predictions and took in $337 million
right around the world.
More than a hundred and fifty five million of that was just in North America. Margot Robbie stars, of course, as the iconic figure with Ryan
Gosling as Ken, as you saw a clip there. The movie is now on the pace to be the biggest female directed movie in the United States. An executive with
Mattel, the maker of Barbie, explained to CNN why the company finally decided to agree to a Barbie movie. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA MCKNIGHT, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, MATTEL: We wanted to do something that was groundbreaking. We certainly, throughout the years, received many
creative treatments for a Barbie movie but it really wasn't until we were introduced to Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig that we knew we had something
incredibly compelling. The movie is smart, it's unexpected, it pushes boundaries, it creates fun comedic moments, but also emotional moments. And
there's really something for everyone in this film.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Go try and see it. And we have seen the movies I Am Legend, Apocalypse Now, those I have seen, imagining what earth would look like if
humans vanished. But this photographer's work is steeped in reality, capturing what the world really does look like without people. Have a look
at this, Romain Veillon has spent years photographing abandoned places overtaken by nature, as you can see there. So much of nature coming out of
those windows, the last picture, predicting reproducing really eerily beautiful results as you can see here, like a ghost town in Namibia, an
abandoned theme park that you just saw there in Japan.
The French photographer had this to say, "We are all fascinated by this post-apocalyptic vision. Maybe we need to be the witness of that to enjoy
what we have and the time in front of us." And with that, I'll leave you for tonight. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next. I shall
see you tomorrow. Have a wonderful day. Bye-bye.