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Isa Soares Tonight

Israel's Foreign Minister Warns Hezbollah will Be Destroyed If An All-Out War Breaks Out Between Israel and Hezbollah; Russia and North Korea Pledge New Partnership; Record Heat Grips the U.S.; U.S. Key Allies Debate Commitment to Ukraine; U.S. Wildfires Force Thousands to Evacuate; Fallout Over Netanyahu's Accusations; Israel Says U.S. is Holding Back Weapons from Israel; Euro 2024 Matches. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired June 19, 2024 - 14:00:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, fears of an expanding conflict in the

Middle East as Israel's Foreign Minister warns Hezbollah will be destroyed if all out-war breaks out. Then pageantry and politics in Pyongyang as

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un sign a mutual defense pact against outside aggression.

We'll have all the details on the Russian President's visit to North Korea. Plus, record heat is gripping the United States, causing raging wildfires

as well as forcing residents to flee from their homes. We'll have that of course, and much more ahead this hour.

But we begin tonight with a growing rift between Israel and its strongest allies. The fallout deepens over Benjamin Netanyahu's accusations against

the Biden administration. The Israeli Prime Minister released a video, saying the U.S. is withholding weapons from Israel as it presses ahead with

the Gaza war.

He demanded the U.S., quote, "give us the tools and we'll finish the job." And that led the White House to cancel a high-level meeting with Israel on

Iran, according to a CNN contributor reporting for "Axios". Here's more of what Mr. Netanyahu had to say. Have a listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: It's inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and

ammunition to Israel. Israel, America's closest allies fighting for its life, fighting against Iran and our other common enemies.

Secretary Blinken assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks. I certainly hope that's the case. It

should be the case.


SOARES: Well, we are told that a U.S. envoy who has spent time in Israel and Lebanon this week caused those remarks unproductive as well as

completely untrue. The White House says only one shipment of 2,000-pound bombs was withheld over concerns they could be used in Rafah.

Meantime, today, the U.N. human rights office condemned Israel's repeated use of 2,000-pound bombs in densely-populated areas of Gaza. It isolated

six attacks targeting residential buildings, the school, a refugee camp as well as market, accusing Israel of systematically failing to comply with

international law.

Israel strongly rejects that. Meantime, concerns of a wider war are escalating after Hezbollah published a nine-minute video of Israeli

military as well as civilian sites, you're looking at some of it there. Israel's Foreign Minister now warning of prospect of all-out war in


I want to get more from our Paula Hancocks, who is in Jerusalem, Ben Wedeman is in Beirut. And Paula, we're talking just a moment about the

politics of that video from Prime Minister Netanyahu. But first, let me go to Ben because, Ben, in the last ten or so minutes, we've heard from the

IDF chief basically saying that Israel has many forces against Hezbollah, engage in offensive against Hezbollah.

Also saying that the IDF is preparing and coming up with solutions to deal with these and other capabilities, these and other capabilities, referring

of course, to that nine-minute drone video that we saw from Hezbollah. Talk to Hezbollah's military and growing capabilities here, Ben, how that -- the

evolution of that over the years?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing, I mean, for instance, let's start with that nine-minute video. That

shows that Hezbollah is able to get a drone through Israeli air defenses about 25 kilometers to 30 kilometers inside Israel itself, fly it over some

highly sensitive military installations -- war plants producing military hardware.

The port, and what we heard from Hassan Nasrallah; the Secretary-General of Hezbollah today in his speech, he said that we have long hours of footage

of Haifa, the outskirts of Haifa and beyond the Haifa. Now, what we've seen going back to October, was that Hezbollah was almost systematically

knocking out Israeli surveillance posts all along the border.

The Israelis brought in cranes to put the equipment back up, and Hezbollah, knocked those down as well with precision strikes, it should be added.


So, clearly in that regard, the -- Hezbollah has found a hole in Israel's defenses. Now, going back over the last few weeks and months, we've seen,

for instance, Hezbollah has been able to shoot down three Hermes 900 drones belonging to Israel. Those are sophisticated drones which according to the

website of the manufacturer can fly at a maximum height of 30,000 feet.

Hezbollah took them down with surface-to-air missiles. Now, in addition to that, what we saw was two weeks ago, Hezbollah put out video showing what

clearly appeared to be a strike on an iron dome battery. And an iron -- the iron dome, of course, is that anti-missile system that it really, the

mainstay, the backbone of Israel's missile defense system.

So, even though the Israelis are saying that they have ways to deal with Hezbollah, and that they have forces on the offensive. What we've seen is

Hezbollah has kept up with the exception of an eight-day period back in November almost daily strikes, multiple strikes on Israeli positions.

And these aren't just claims. They put out almost every day video showing those strikes as well. So, I covered the 2006 war here, Isa, and I saw what

Hezbollah could do. And even back then, it was substantial. But what we're seeing now between 2006 and 2024 is a dramatic improvement in their

military capabilities. Isa?

SOARES: Yes, and the IDF is watching and they're saying, we of course, possess infinitely more powerful capabilities. But let's just stick to what

we heard also, very briefly to Nasrallah before we go to Paula. We also heard the Hezbollah leader today seeming to threaten, Ben, Cyprus, for the

first time. Just give us some context of this here.

WEDEMAN: Now, that came sort of, out of the blue while we were watching that speech. He said that if Cyprus provided Israel with the use of its

airport or bases, it would consider Cyprus to be essentially a participant in a war against Hezbollah if there is a war.

Now, it turns out that Cyprus and Israel have developed their military cooperation program over the years, particularly since the beginning of the

deterioration of relations between Turkey and Cyprus -- Turkey and Israel. Turkey, of course, occupying northern Cyprus since 1975.

And what we know is that in 2014, there were the first joint military exercises between Cyprus in Israel, and as late as May of 2023, they had

another set of exercises. So, Hezbollah, given the proximity of Cyprus to Lebanon, is obviously concerned that Israel might use Cypriot airspace

bases for strikes on targets inside Lebanon. Isa?

SOARES: We should look for a response, of course, from the Cypriot government. In the meantime, let me go to Paula and let's talk, Paula,

about this video that we saw from Prime Minister Netanyahu. Look, I think it's fair to say that, and it's been obvious, I think for some time that

the relationship between Netanyahu and President Biden has been under strain. And now, we are hearing, Paula, this mounting frustration from the

U.S. administration. Just have a listen to this.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We generally do not know what he's talking about. We just don't. There was one particular shipment

of ammunitions that was paused. There are no other pauses, none, no other pauses or holds in place.


SOARES: So, just explain then, Paula, the timing of these comments by Netanyahu and who he was addressing here. Because from what -- from what I

saw the little clip, I saw he was speaking in English.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, he is speaking in English, Isa, so, it's an American audience, it's an

international audience. He's not necessarily doing this for domestic consumption, and it certainly raised eyebrows. I mean, it's -- when you

have your closest ally, saying, we don't know what you're talking about.

It shows that the relationship is not going well. Now, within Israel itself, I mean, the Netanyahu supporters are always going to stand by him,

but we've obviously heard from his critics, Benny Gantz for example, the opposition leader who resigned from the war cabinet just about a week-and-

a-half ago because Netanyahu didn't have a day after-plan for Gaza.

He said that Netanyahu is jeopardizing that strategic relationship with the United States, and also said that he's doing it for political reasons, and

also creating crises that simply don't exist.


So, it was surprising, shall we say, and there were very few officials, certainly, that support Netanyahu who are willing to talk on the record

about this today.

SOARES: Very quickly, Paula, how much was this to appease some of the kind of more far-right members of Netanyahu's party here?

HANCOCKS: I mean, it's certainly -- it's certainly possible. You know, he does have some very far-right elements to his coalition. They're putting

more pressure on Netanyahu to be part of the very significant decision- making when it comes to the war in Gaza. You have those far-right elements who think that Israel should be -- reoccupy in Gaza.

Who think that Palestinians should be driven from Gaza. So, certainly, there is an element that he has to keep them on side because if they leave,

his coalition collapses, and then there are elections. But I think there is an assumption that this was really for America to push the Biden

administration and put pressure on them.

SOARES: Yes, we shall see what else we hear from the Biden administration. Paula Hancocks for us in Jerusalem, Ben Wedeman for us in Beirut. Thank you

to you both. And we will have much more on the rift between the White House and Israel ahead when we speak with the former State Department negotiator

Aaron David Miller, that's in about 30 minutes or so.

Now, two leaders isolated from the West are now marking an agreement to protect each other's nations if attacked. During Russian President Vladimir

Putin's visit to Pyongyang, he cited a so-called strategic partnership packed with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Finally, choreographed pomp as well as circumstance greeted the Russian leader for his first visit to the reclusive state in more than two decades.

Thousands of North Koreans lined the streets there on Pyongyang, waving -- on Pyongyang, waving flags and chanting, welcome Putin.




SOARES: Well, let's get more on the pomp and the politics. Joining us from Seoul is Mike Valerio. Mike, good to see you. So, we saw -- we saw the red

carpet being rolled out. We saw a bit of the bromance between these two leaders. But what exactly has come out of this? Just explain what this

strategic partnership actually means.

MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that is the biggest question, Isa, that has emerged after this meeting has concluded. Have we

just witnessed with our own eyes the emergence of perhaps an autocratic version of NATO's Article 5, when one member of alliance -- of an alliance

is attacked, the other member or members step in to defend the member that's attacked.

This is what could be unfolding between North Korea and Russia, as these two leaders hope to reshape the world order.


VALERIO (voice-over): By the end of the celebrations in Pyongyang after an indelible image of two authoritarian leaders riding in an open limo,

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un brought ties between their two countries even closer, announcing a

comprehensive strategic partnership agreement that includes assisting one another in the event of aggression.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): The comprehensive partnership agreement signed today provides among other things, for the

provision of mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties to this agreement.

VALERIO: Kim hailed what he called a new alliance.

KIM JONG-UN, LEADER OF NORTH KOREA (through translator): The great democratic People's Republic of Korea, Russia alliance, which will become a

watershed moment and the development of this bilateral relations finally raised its anchor in history and announced this solemn departure here


VALERIO: It's unclear if Wednesday's agreement is as strong as a 1961 treaty between the USSR and North Korea, which called for automatic mutual

defense if one of the countries were attacked. But notable during the pageantry in Pyongyang, no tanks and no weapons parading past Kim Il-Sung


Analysts say it's a fine balancing act for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un not to draw too much attention to a linchpin of his strengthening bond with

Russia, and illegal exchange according to the U.S. in South Korea of weaponry and weapons technology between Moscow and Pyongyang.

PETER WARD, RESEARCH FELLOW, SEJONG INSTITUTE: It's very good they're not showing off missiles. It's probably because although we have very credible

Intelligence now indicating that North Korean missiles are being used on the battlefield in Ukraine, they don't want to necessarily draw too much

attention to missiles in the relationship with Russia.

VALERIO: In front of the cameras, Kim pledged his full support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. U.S. officials say North Korea has sent

Russia more than 10,000 shipping containers since September, deliveries of ammunitions or ammunitions-related material.

Russian forces have also launched at least ten North Korean-made missiles on Ukraine since September, a U.S. official said in March, both countries

deny such weapons trades are happening.



VALERIO: OK, so, Isa, if Russia and North Korea now have a mutual assistance agreement that is in place, and important to note, we haven't

seen the text of that agreement. It seems to be purposefully vague to keep leaders and certainly the military component, the military -- you know,

operations in the West on their heels.

But if we do have this new agreement between North Korea and Russia, does that mean that both of these countries begin to have military drills? Sort

of like a mirror image of what the United States does with South Korea south of the DMZ.

If that happens, certainly that would reset, that would cause a re- evaluation of the security posture here on the Korean Peninsula. And on that point, Russian President Vladimir Putin at the lectern said that the

Russian federation, quote, "does not rule out developing military grade cooperation with North Korea."

But again, a lot of this is vague. Watch this space, they are apparently going to have another similar summit in the near future in Moscow, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, we would need more details on that. I know you'll keep chasing. Mike, appreciate it, thank you very much. Well, earlier, I sat

down with CNN's Fareed Zakaria to discuss what the deepening alliance between Russian President Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong-un actually

means for geopolitics. A little clip of our conversation.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: It's a sign of just what a different world we're in. You know, Russia was one of the four powers that

was actually holding North Korea to account, restraining its sanctioning it or through the '90s and then the 2000s. It would -- it would act as a kind

of monitor. It was the Chinese who are providing the North Koreas with assistance.

And it shows you, you know, that whole world has gone. Russia is now firmly in the -- in the -- in the camp of opposing the United States, opposing the

West, opposing even, you know, ideas like nuclear non-proliferation, which it was once very much a part of, and why is it doing that?

Because Russia is desperate. Russia needs the ammunition, it needs the weaponry that Kim Jong-un can provide, and you know, the only interesting

question that we don't know is what is Putin giving Kim --

SOARES: Yes --

ZAKARIA: Jong-un in return?

SOARES: The quid pro quo --

ZAKARIA: In return --

SOARES: That's what we don't know.


SOARES: And in terms for our viewers, in terms of how Putin is desperate to keep -- like you say, desperate to keep his war machine running. Just

for context, Russia has received -- this is according to United States, more than 10,000 shipping containers, that's roughly 260,000 metric tons of

ammunitions just from North Korea --


SOARES: Since September. We also know that the -- Russia has launched some ten North Korean missiles into Ukraine. So, how should the West then -- I

mean, we heard them talk about this defense pack, we don't have the details on this. So, how should the West be looking at this alliance? What can they

do? How should they respond, Fareed, to this?

ZAKARIA: The most important thing we have to do is out-produce Russia at every -- at every level --

SOARES: Which Europe is not doing --

ZAKARIA: With the -- which Europe is not doing. We should be thinking about this -- you know, if you -- if you -- if you look at Russia and

Ukraine by themselves, the Russian economy before the war, was ten times larger than the Ukrainian economy.

Russia's population is about four times larger than Ukraine's. So, the only way Ukraine is going to be able to hold its own is with enormous western

assistance. And we should be out-producing Russia ammunitions. We should be out -- you know, giving Ukraine everything it needs.

We've gotten into this fight. So, question right now is, we have to ask ourselves, do we want to win or lose? It's as simple as that. You know, if

we don't do what it takes, the Russians -- for Russia, this is existential.

SOARES: Yes --

ZAKARIA: They have decided that they're going to do everything it takes. They've turned their economy into war economy. The West has to realize if

we don't want Putin to win and all the consequences of that. We have to ramp up production in Germany, ramp up production in Britain. You know,

Britain is -- it was below the 2 percent NATO --

SOARES: Yes --



SOARES: And that interview is part of why the conversation that I had with Fareed, which you can watch it later this week, focusing on rather some big

issues of our time, that's democracy, liberalism, as well as migration. Fareed discusses these topics in his latest book, "Age of Revolutions:

Progress and Backlash from 1600s to the Present", which is out now.

You want -- you do not want to miss that lengthy discussion that we're going to have. And still to come tonight, Ukraine's future is up for

debate. We'll take a closer look at the intense talks happening between U.S. and its allies ahead of course of next month's NATO Summit. That

discussion just ahead.



SOARES: Well, the red carpet treatment Russian President Vladimir Putin received in North Korea is in stark contrast to the scene playing out on

the frontlines of war. And now, Mr. Putin must face Russia's setbacks. Ukrainian officials say U.S. support is coming through, and they are

gaining the upper hand in key battles as CNN's Frederik Pleitgen now reports.



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukrainian troops storming a Russian trench in the Kharkiv region, firing

and throwing grenades at those unwilling to surrender. Elsewhere in the same region, a Russian soldier does give up after the Ukrainians decimated

his unit.

"We run to him and I saw his uniform up-close and realized he's a Russian serviceman", he says. "Then I shouted at him, hands up, he put up his hands

in the air and then did everything I told him to do." Moscow's military launched a surprise offensive, targeting the northeast of Ukraine earlier

this year, destroying a key town and gaining a foothold not far from Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv.

But now, the Ukrainian say they've killed scores of Russians here and are back on the offensive. A major reason resumed military aid from the U.S.

and its allies, Ukraine's president says. "We see the world's determination opening up new perspectives for restoring our security", he says.

"Among other things, this concerns the security of Kharkiv, the destruction of Russian terrorist positions and launchers near the border by our forces

and soldiers really matters." As Ukraine's land and air forces are pounding his troops, Russian leader Vladimir Putin was at a children's musical

school in Russia's far east, en route to meet a key ally, North Korean strongman, Kim Jong-un.

With the going tough on the battlefield, Putin has already threatened the West for supporting Ukraine, but also claims he wants peace talks. "So far,

the West has been ignoring or interests", he says, "while they forbid Kyiv to negotiate, they hypocritically call on us to start some sort of

negotiations. It just looks idiotic."

But Ukrainian troops facing the Russians on the eastern front say they have no trust in the Russian leader's words, and want to fight on. "Russia

understands force only", the soldier says. "All the agreements and signings are just games with a beast. Sooner or later, it will regain its strength,

lick its wounds and will be conquering even more because it has already tasted blood."


And so, Ukraine's forces continue the battle against an enemy with more troops and a lot more firepower. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


SOARES: And our thanks to Fred for that report. And away from the frontlines, the U.S. and its key allies are debating Ukraine's pathway

forward to a potential, of course, NATO membership. A central European diplomat tells CNN, the U.S. is facing criticism from a variety of European

countries for not outlining a concrete path, something that we have heard here on the show.

Ukraine has both being grateful as well as frustrated as it watched the U.S. offer bigger weapons packages, but at a slower pace. And of course,

then it has needed for a touch on that at next month's NATO Summit in Washington. The question is going to be about Ukraine's membership and

whether they can secure that, make sure that's center stage.

Joining us on set here is a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, and former U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations. Kurt Volker, thank you

very much, great to have you on the show, ambassador. Let me pick up with the discussions among NATO allies ahead of the NATO Summit that's happening

in Washington.

And there is -- there does seem to be a point of tension -- point of tension that I don't think has shifted too much between those central and

European allies, including the U.K., who want the communique in Washington to be around the word "irreversible" in terms of NATO's -- Ukraine's

position. The U.S. doesn't want to go there. Why not?


last year in Vilnius when we had a NATO Summit then. And several allies and Ukraine all seeking stronger language about inviting Ukraine to join NATO

as soon as possible.

Stronger than the language we've had for the last 16 years since 2008, somewhere in Bucharest. Washington and Berlin do not want to do this. They

feel that it would draw NATO into a direct confrontation with Russia. Now, Article 5, if you know, the collective defense commitment would apply, we'd

have to go fight Russia against Ukraine.

So, they don't want to do that. There's a lot of room in-between the position of saying, get things started and we're at war today. And part of

this question that is being debated now is what's the signal that Putin is going to take from this if we just repeat the same language or a similar

that we've always done, then Putin is going to say, all I have to do is keep the war going --

SOARES: Yes --

VOLKER: And they're never going to bring Ukraine into NATO.

SOARES: Exactly because around Vilnius, the language was that Ukraine's position is in NATO. I think the language was something Ukraine's future is

in NATO --


SOARES: So, how do you advance that?

VOLKER: Yes, well, what it said also --

SOARES: By giving a strong signal --

VOLKER: When there's a consensus, and when Ukraine is ready, which is language that means there is no consensus --

SOARES: Yes --

VOLKER: Then Ukraine is not ready. And so --

SOARES: What about timeline?

VOLKER: What I think -- so, there was a report that was prepared by former Secretary-General of NATO, Rasmussen, together with the chief of staff to

President Zelenskyy, Andriy Yermak, was an international working group, I was a part of that.

And there, the recommendation is to begin ascension negotiations with Ukraine now, knowing that it will take some time, knowing it's not going to

be immediate, but to send that kind of signal to Putin that this is going to happen, there will be a democratic, prosperous and secure Ukraine, and

he's not going to do anything to change that. The compromise that people have been talking about is now this word, "irreversible".


VOLKER: So, nothing new about the process, but the process is irreversible. And here again, I think you have Washington and Berlin

saying, let's not go quite that far.

SOARES: That certainly would send a very strong message to President Putin.

VOLKER: It will --

SOARES: And then some of the eastern European countries and Foreign Ministers I've had on the show would have said, perhaps, the U.S. has been

too afraid to push on that front, afraid of Putin, of rattling Putin. Is that --

VOLKER: Yes --


VOLKER: Well, I think the way to say that is again, I point to Washington and Berlin.


VOLKER: There is a serious concern about escalation of the war. And they think that if we were to give them certain weapon systems, or if Ukraine

were to strike deeper inside Russia, or if we were to move on NATO membership or any number of other things, that Putin would find this a

provocation, and he would somehow escalate the war either conventionally or attack other countries or use nuclear weapons or something.

I think that concern of escalation plays to Putin's hands.


VOLKER: It gives him the control of what he does when he does it. And he can deter us from taking actions as we seem to have been deterred.

SOARES: And Putin is probably rubbing his hands with glee, seeing kind of the divisions and the tensions --

VOLKER: Yes, indeed --

SOARES: Right? But are facing right now. But I mean, I wonder from many foreign ministers I've had on the show over -- just this year, the concern

always -- also is about a potential return of Donald Trump. Now, I wonder how much the language and the push that we're seeing by allies now, is to

shield NATO and those allies from Trump 2.0.



SOARES: What have you been hearing?

VOLKER: Well, I think that that's -- I've heard something different, but before I come to that, I think what's driving this is actually the urgency

of the situation in Ukraine.

There's a perception that we've been consistently sending a signal of weakness, that despite all of the arms and all the aid we've given to

Ukraine, we always set limits. We always come in later. We just had this six-month delay in aid from the United States because we couldn't agree in


So, this is sending a signal to Putin, keep fighting, wait it out, he believes he can win. So, the goal here, it's less about Trump or Biden,

it's more about what do we need to do as an alliance to start setting this on the right trajectory. I think that's where that's coming from.

Now, that's for U.S. politics, what I heard when I was in Ukraine just a few days ago is that there is a certainty, a predictability about where we

are today with the Biden administration and others, which is, yes, support, grateful for that support, but it's never enough, never on time, never

enough to win, and there's no strategy to help Ukraine win.

President Biden is re-elected, that's what they anticipate the continuation to be. If President Trump is re-elected, then it's an unknown. And so, we

don't know what he would do. There are examples of things he did in his first term, like lift the arms embargo on Ukraine that had been in place

until he took office, closed down the Russian consulate in San Francisco, tried to shut down Nord Stream 2.

So, a lot of things that were in the right direction. But it's still very unclear what he would actually do as president.

SOARES: Should NATO be worried though?

VOLKER: I think that NATO should do its job. I don't think it should base what it does, or European nations should not base what they do based on who

the U.S. elects as a president. NATO's mission is, first and foremost, to defend its own members, and is preparing for this, doing a very good job at

this. Second, it is to try to maintain peace and security in Europe through whatever means.

And here, NATO, I think, needs to step up a bit more. Some of this will happen at the Washington Summit. For instance, moving the assistance

coordination to Ukraine into NATO as a clearinghouse mechanism. This is something NATO's good at. It should have been done two years ago. We're

finally doing it. This is a very good step.

Putting in place a program to help Ukraine with its defense modernization, training, equipping, procurement, that's a good thing, but then the

ultimate question of are we bringing Ukraine closer to NATO, I think we need to do more there, too.

SOARES: Ambassador, great to have you on the show.

VOLKER: Thank you.

SOARES: Thank you very, very much. And we're going to take a short break. After this, raging wildfires, we've been showing you, leaving behind really

a trail of destruction in two U.S. states. One man says he was lucky to get out alive as ash was falling from the sky. We'll bring you those reports

after this short break. You are watching CNN.



SOARES: Well, we have heard repeated warnings about the climate crisis. Now, we are seeing its devastating impact across the globe in the form of

repeated heat waves, massive wildfires and hyperactive hurricane season.

In the U.S. State of New Mexico, the governor has declared a state of emergency. Growing wildfires have led to evacuations there. At least one

person has died and more than 1,400 structures have burned. Record heat is gripping the United States from Ohio to the Northeast. Heat alerts are in

effect for more than 80 million people. And South Texas is being slabbed by flooding from the heavy rain ahead of the expected arrival of Tropical

Storm Alberto.

And for more now on the wildfires in New Mexico, here's our Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The City of Ruidoso, New Mexico is essentially a ghost town, it feels like at this point. Less

than 48 hours after these fires started in this mountainous region of New Mexico, more than 8,000 people have evacuated.

As I mentioned, there's two different fires that are -- that have consumed so far about 20,000 acres, almost none of it has been contained here at

this point. And the visibility, because of the smoke from these fires, is just really in -- cut down dramatically. The smoke is intense. This is a

roadway that leads out to the northern edge of town. This is an area where people were scrambling Monday night to get out of this area, as one

resident described us, ash was falling from the sky.

And as you look at it, everywhere you look here, visibility is cut down dramatically. Very difficult to breathe, and it really kind of gets into

your eyes as well. You can imagine what the firefighters on the front lines are battling in this canyonous mountainous area, fighting these fires are

extremely difficult.

As I mentioned, about 1,400 structures have been destroyed or lost so far in these fires. More than 8,000 people have evacuated. And one resident

says they're lucky to get out alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We reached a point where it was just a solid blackout. I've never seen anything like it. But the thing that kind of startled me

more than anything, my truck was being hit with chunks of ash. I could feel him hitting the hood and the gray. It was almost like big gray rain hitting

my truck.

LAVANDERA: Now, there is a sliver of good news, and there could be some relief on the way, and that is weather forecasts are showing that later

this afternoon and into Thursday as well, rain is expected in this area, and that would obviously help dramatically for the firefighters on the

ground here battling these massive wildfires that have consumed the areas Ruidoso, New Mexico.

So, that relief can't come soon enough because there are thousands of people who have evacuated this area. They've scattered to other communities

around here in New Mexico, and they are desperately awaiting word to find out if their homes have made it through the worst of these wildfires. Back

to you.


SOARES: Thank you very much to our Ed Lavandera there. Well, the climate crisis is also affecting Central America, where heavy rainfall, flooding

and landslides have led to the deaths of more than a dozen people. At least 11 have died in El Salvador, eight adults and three children. That is

according to a civil protection official. More than 1,900 people are taking shelter.


And in Guatemala, eight people have died, while five others have been injured. Around 6,000 people have been evacuated so far. This as emergency

alerts are in place for parts of neighboring Honduras.

That's not the only part of the world that's facing extreme heat. Dozens of people reportedly died in sweltering conditions in Saudi Arabia. As

temperature soared to above 50 degrees Celsius or 120 degrees Fahrenheit. And this happening during Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. It's

one of the biggest religious gatherings in the world and the largest annual event in Saudi Arabia.

Jordan says at least 41 of its citizens died during this year's Hajj due to extreme heat. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have yet to release official figures

on the death toll, which is expected to climb. We'll stay, of course across the story.

And still ahead, the White House is fuming in private after a very public accusation by Israel's prime minister. Much more on the fallout from

Benjamin Netanyahu's claim that the U.S. is withholding weapons from Israel. That is next.


SOARES: Well, returning now to one of our top stories, and that's the fallout from Benjamin Netanyahu's accusations against the Biden

administration. The Israeli prime minister says the U.S. has withheld weapons from Israel for the past few months. And while the White House

acknowledged one shipment was put on hold in May, it says all others are going through.

There's now cancelled a high-level meeting on Iran between the U.S. and Israel's scheduled for tomorrow. That is according to a CNN contributor.

Let's get some perspective now from someone who knows very well the relationship between these longtime allies. Aaron David Miller is a former

Middle East negotiator at the U.S. State Department, a well-known face on the show.

Aaron, good to see you. Welcome back to the show. I wonder what you make, then. I mean, we all saw this video kind of perplexed, including the White

House and the White -- the Biden administration seemed to be fuming. What do you make of what we heard from Netanyahu?

AARON DAVID MILLER, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT MIDDLE EAST NEGOTIATOR: You know, I think it's the latest episode -- first of all, thanks for

having me. It's the latest episode in what has become a sort of Bibi Netanyahu-Joe Biden soap opera. The reality is this relationship is

fundamentally strained largely as a consequence of practices and policies pursued by the Netanyahu government and by the prime minister himself.


I think the administration, frankly, is reluctant, unwilling, I would argue, almost nine months in to create the circumstances for a profound or

sustained break with the prime minister. I don't think that's where we're going. But I think the prime minister's comments reflect politics. And not

just Israeli domestic politics, I mean, I hope I'm wrong, but I think the prime minister is setting the stage for his visit next month, where the

Israel issue has become quite extraordinarily a polarizing issue in U.S. politics.

I never thought I'd say that, but it's true. I mean, Netanyahu is the preferred candidate of the Republican Party. And I think the Republican

objective as well as Netanyahu's I think is to demonstrate that the Biden administration is somehow not sensitive or supportive of Israeli needs. How

could anyone watching the Biden administration policy over the last nine months, which is costing the president politically, not come to the

conclusion somehow that Biden is not supporting Israel? So, I think that's what's going on.

Whether or not this is a full-blown effort by Netanyahu to go politics, it's still unclear, but I think that the headline suggests this could

become a trend line.

SOARES: And like you said, we are expecting Netanyahu to address Congress, I think, is in late July. And already, Aaron, we are starting to see some

pushback with some lawmakers basically saying they will boycott it. Just have a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you plan to attend Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to Congress?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): No. Look, we need a ceasefire. We need to get those hostages back. We need humanitarian relief. And we need to be

giving both parties a big shove toward getting to the negotiating table and working out a peaceful solution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should the president make clear that he should not address Congress, Netanyahu?

WARREN: Look, that's up to the president, but I'm not going.


SOARES: I mean, that really speaks to the point that you were making just now. I mean, where does this leave then, Aaron, President Biden? And should

the administration, the Biden administration be addressing this visit and even these comments more forcefully?

MILLER: Well, it depends where we are. It'll be fascinating to see whether or not -- and Mr. Netanyahu may well be among the small minority of Israeli

prime ministers, not just at the White House, not in -- just in his first year, but perhaps not at all. We're going to wait to see exactly whether or

not the president, the administration -- the president will see Netanyahu. We saw him in New York but no White House visit.

Look, I think Mr. Netanyahu's court domestic constituency, it's not the Republican Party, it's certainly not the Biden administration, it's

survival. And survival means maintaining the right-wing coalition that he has. And that's, I think, the real problem for the prime minister.

I mean, on trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust three years now in the Jerusalem District Court. If he doesn't maintain himself on power, and

I mean, remain prime minister, prospects are pretty grim. He could be convicted or if not, he may have to cut a plea deal that would drive him

from politics.

So, I think, again, I don't say this lightly, I think Mr. Netanyahu may well be the worst Israeli prime minister at the worst possible time, and

during the worst possible circumstances for this country. And I think it's negatively affecting U.S.-Israeli relationship for sure despite the Biden

administration's efforts, I think, want to continue to work with Netanyahu.

Because the only way the Biden administration is going to de-escalate this conflict is through possibly in an Israeli-Hamas negotiation and a deal.

Those don't look -- those talks don't look very promising at the moment, but I don't see much in the way of hope for an alternative right now.

SOARES: Yes. And so far, what we've heard from the U.S. envoy saying that Netanyahu's comments, unproductive and untrue, but we haven't heard a very

little else. We keep an eye, of course, in the near to what comes out of the White House. Aaron David Miller, always great to get your insight.

Thanks, Aaron.

MILLER: Thanks very much.

SOARES: We're going to take a short break. You're very welcome. We're going to take a short break. We'll be back after this.



SOARES: And this year's Euros are well underway now, and the matches are full of drama. Host Germany are already through to the knockout stages with

2-nil thumping of Hungary. That follows beating Scotland in the first match, of course, of the tournament. Earlier, underdog Albania pulled off a

dramatic equalizing stoppage time, earning a 2-2 draw with Croatia.

Our Don Riddell has the pleasure of watching all these matches. I -- very envious. He joins us now. So, Don, Germany round -- the first team round to

-- the first team through to the round of 16, I should say.

DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, the host nation doing very, very well already in the knockout stages after just six days of this tournament. I'll

show you how they did it. So, Wednesday night in Stuttgart, the Germans up against Hungary in Group A. As you say, they beat them by two goals to nil.

The opening goal coming midway through the first half. There was all this chaos of the Hungarian defense, but Jamal Musiala wasn't complaining as he

dispatched his second goal of the tournament, and this in his hometown, too.

Musiala was exceptional throughout the game. He is already being hailed as one of the tournament stars. In the second half, Germany making it 2-nil.

Musiala, again, involved. Good finish there from Ilkay Gundogan. Germany know that the opposition will soon get tougher, but they couldn't really

ask for much more right now. And the seven goals that they've scored are the most they've ever scored in a Euro's group stage. And there is still

one game to go.

Albania had already given the defending champions Italy a scare in their opening game. Today, they took an early lead against the 2018 World Cup

finalists, Croatia. That's Qazim Laci with the opening goal. They then defended superbly for over an hour, keeping Croatia at bay until Andrej

Kramaric drove in an equalizer. And just two minutes later, they were ahead, thanks to a very unfortunate own goal from Klaus Gjasula.

But Albania never dropped their heads and believe it or not, it was Gjasula who had the last word, making amends by side footing home a dramatic

equalizer in the 95th minute. 2-all the final score. What a result for Albania, but that could be really problematic for Croatia. We'll soon see.

Great action so far, Isa, and it has been a really fun tournament with some brilliant performances and some amazing goals.

SOARES: Indeed, and my Scottish producer, my wee Scottish producer is very excited about the game that's starting in about eight minutes or so. What

are Scotland's chances here against Switzerland?

RIDDELL: Well, they need to play a lot better than they did against Germany. I mean, they got absolutely walloped on Friday night. So, it can

only improve from here. It can only improve.

Hopefully, good news, by the way, for one of the biggest stars in world football right now, Kylian Mbappe, remember he broke his nose on Monday

night, and it looked like he would be out for the Netherlands game on Friday. We've actually seen him training today, albeit cautiously with a

bandage on his nose. And he has actually said on social media today, something to the effect of there are no victories without the risks being

taken. So, does that indicate he might play in the next game? We'll see. French fans certainly hope so.


SOARES: It's definitely good to see him out and about. And good luck, of course, to Scotland and to Switzerland. Thanks very much, Don. Appreciate


And finally, tonight, food artist Michelle Wibowo has unveiled these rather unusual portraits. If you look closely, you may be able to see it. They're

made from authentic Japanese sushi ingredients like salmon, rice, and even pickled ginger. Wibowo spent 107 -- and 20 hours, I should say, creating

this lineup of iconic British celebrities. And she has some, well, let's just say creative names for them, including the legendary singer,

songwriter Eelton John, as you can see there, footballer star Bukayo Saki (ph), and actor, if you can bring it up, Benedict Cucumberbatch. I wonder

what's in that one.

Each sculpture measures about 18 centimeters tall and 10 centimeters wide. That is roughly the size of a grapefruit. Incredible artistry, of course,

with sushi. I can just about make rice and that's it.

That does it for us for tonight. Thank you very much for your company. Do stay right here. "Newsroom with Erica Hill" is up next.

I shall see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.