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Quest Means Business
Foreign Nationals and Injured Palestinians Begin Leaving Gaza; IDF Confirms Second Airstrike on Jabalya Refugee Camp; UK Foreign Secretary: First British Nationals Have Left Gaza; IDF Say Military is "At the Gates" of Gaza City; Some Americans Arrive in Egypt from Gaza; U.S. Secretary of State Meets Saudi Defense Minister; Fed Holds Benchmark Interest Rate Steady Again; Donald Trump Jr. Testifies in Civil Fraud Trial. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired November 01, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: All right. Welcome everyone. I am Zain Asher. It is not o'clock at night at the Rafah Border Crossing where,
for the first time since the war began in early October, some injured Palestinians and foreign nationals have been able to leave Gaza for Egypt.
This is CNN's continuing coverage of Israel's war on Hamas. Good evening.
Tonight, the IDF has confirmed that a second blast at the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza was, indeed, an Israeli airstrike. It is the second
strike to hit this exact camp in as many days.
On Tuesday, a doctor at the scene told CNN the first blast left hundreds wounded and dead. Israel is saying it targeted and killed a Hamas commander
who was hiding there. It comes as foreign nationals and some wounded Palestinians have started crossing the border into Egypt from Gaza.
Dozens of hurt and injured civilians, including young children, were taken by ambulance to Egyptian hospitals. The deal between Israel, Egypt, and
Hamas to open the Rafah crossing was broken by Qatar. It is the first time civilians have been allowed to leave the Gaza Strip since the war began on
October 7th. An Egyptian government official says that more than 360 foreign nationals have entered Egypt.
I want to bring in our Becky Anderson joining us live now from Doha.
Becky, just walk us through what we know in terms of the numbers, the numbers of people who have been allowed to leave so far .
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes.
ASHER: . and how it worked in terms of how the exit will be staggered from this point out?
ANDERSON: These are certainly hard-earned successes in what are extremely tough negotiations for the Qataris working with Israel, Hamas, and Egypt on
this file in this coordination with the US. So this is where we are right now.
Upwards of 500 foreign passport holders were cleared for evacuation out of Gaza today, Wednesday. That includes citizens of Jordan, Austria,
Australia, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Japan, and some US citizens. The next phase, on Thursday, likely to include about 400 US citizens and
It's really important to note that these are evacuations are into Egypt of foreign nationals, dual citizens, US citizens and, importantly, the
evacuation of critically injured Palestinian civilians who are in need of surgical intervention to frankly save their lives; those services clearly
not available any longer in Gaza. So it's an important first step.
We were always told that this will be a process. There are some of the upwards of 500 -- I think 491 were preapproved for evacuation. About 100 of
those, as we understand it, either haven't made it to the border crossing today or have not crossed because perhaps their family members weren't
included on lists. But this is incredibly complicated. At least in principle, some 300 have now been evacuated into Egypt along with those
Palestinian civilians who are critically injured.
Now, this deal on foreign and dual nationals and these critically injured is separate to the hostage negotiations, which, while still ongoing,
according to diplomatic sources familiar with those talks, have been made all the more difficult, they say, since Israel announced the second phase
of its war on the ground and in the air on Friday last week.
So that is as things stand at present. As I say, some success, some hard- earned success in what are extremely complicated talks in the first
instance on these evacuations through this border crossing.
Remember, you know, Gaza is under total siege. We're not for the border crossing being open on both sides today, there is no other way out of Gaza.
So these foreign nationals and these civilians who have been evacuated today, they have been locked down in Gaza for nearly three weeks at this
stage, so I'm sure a huge relief to those who are able to get through.
The UK foreign secretary says the first British national have just left Gaza. James Cleverly called it "a hugely important first step" and added
that the British government was working with Egyptian and Israeli authorities to ensure the Rafah crossing stays open. I'm sure he's also
working to ensure that the area around that border crossing is safe because, of course, you know, the idea of Israeli airstrikes around that
area would make this corridor for evacuations impossible.
Well, my next guest has family trapped in Gaza, some of whom are British citizens. Laila El-Haddad is a US-based Palestinian journalist and blogger.
It's good to have you on and you join me now. As I understand that one of your uncles, a Jordanian passport holder, made it out through the Rafah
crossing today. Have you been able to talk to him?
LAILA EL-HADDAD, PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST AND BLOGGER: We have not, but we just received word a few hours ago that he successfully made it over to the
Egyptian side. But I don't know where he is at the moment. I don't know if he has made it to Cairo or not, yes.
ANDERSON: I understand, yes. Okay, all right. And it's -- I know that the details are very difficult to come by. But you must be relieved in the
So I know though you still have a lot of family inside, both on your mother's and your father's side. Can you just explain what the situation is
EL-HADDAD: It's horrifying. I mean, I'm struggling to find words to describe -- and excuse me, my throat is still hoarse from, again, trying to
just find the words to describe their situation.
I was just speaking with my cousin who is in Gaza City, along with dozens of other members of my father's side of the family. They're all in the
city. They were in that area that was told to leave to self-displace, but they refused.
They had flyers dropped over their house, telling them if they don't leave they will be considered accomplices to terror. But they told me over
WhatsApp that they choose to die in the dignity of their own homes rather than risk another Nakba or Palestinian displacement.
So I was just speaking with one of my cousins there. And she was telling me that there is continuous, around the clock, Israeli artillery fire from the
east coming westwards and Israeli Navy gunship fire from the west coming eastwards. And they were literally stuck in the middle between that, not to
mention the constant shelling all around them.
She was telling me that water is very scarce. They are using a little bit of (inaudible) that the building that they are in has left. The bakery, she
said, are pretty much out of flour. And none of the aid that has been coming in is being allowed north, where they are, at the moment.
ANDERSON: That's the story in Gaza City from the perspective of your family. And, you know, I realize this isn't easy for you to relate. And
clearly, times are awful for them.
I also, as I understand it, know that you've got family in Khan Younis, near the Rafah border. A few of them, as I understand it, have British
citizenship. So what is their status at this point?
EL-HADDAD: Yes, all of my mother's side of the family is in Khan Younis in the south. A few of them, my aunt actually left on October the 8th to
Egypt, on the last day that the Rafah crossing was open.
But my uncle and his son, my cousin and I -- my other cousin are British citizens. And they have not yet have been able to leave. One of them tried
today and was unsuccessful.
The other, I think, is making the decision that he's going to stay there. He feels it's a powerful moment, and he needs to witness it and use his
privilege as a British citizen to be able to report on what's happening there. But I know that my other cousin is attempting to leave but hasn't
been able to.
So far as you mentioned in the report, names need to be crosschecked, so it's not as simple as I'm going to, you know, pack up and leave today. But
it's a similar situation in terms of the access to .
ANDERSON: Can I just ask you -- we've heard from James .
ANDERSON: . Cleverly today who has said one British citizen has got through, and they hope there will be more to come. Is it clear to you from
your relatives inside Gaza just how much communication or how that communication about, you know, getting preapprovals and trying to evacuate
for those who want to? How that process has worked?
EL-HADDAD: It's a real mess to be honest. I -- the first thing I did when I woke up is I checked my WhatsApp, all members of our family, some in
Canada, some in Jordan, some in Egypt, myself in the United States, were, you know, sending different documents we had received.
There was one that was named that were approved that was being circulated and others were names that had made it across. And then there was
information from the embassies telling, I know, the Americans and I'm not sure about the British that, okay, the border will be open from these
hours, be ready by the border.
The other problem is, of course, there's no cell phone reception at the border. And so, then we're relying on somebody to go with them and then go
back and relay that information manually.
So it's just, you know, luck at this point. I want to say I am not sure what's behind this election of who can leave. I know in my uncle's case, he
was 80 and required some medications that were running out. So were just relieved that, at least, he was able to make it out.
ANDERSON: Listen, you know, I can hear that you're struggling. I'm going to let you go momentarily.
I just briefly want to ask you. I mean, this has been described as a living nightmare and I don't think anybody, you know, would describe it as
anything else at this point. But as you speak to your relatives, can you just sum up, you know, in a couple of sentences, if you will, just how they
EL-HADDAD: It's -- I mean, it's absolutely terrifying. And I think they feel -- they keep telling me, don't worry about our actual physical needs.
Don't worry about the food. We'll manage. We're down to a few cans, a few bottles of water, but we'll manage.
But I think what they feel most is that the world has abandoned them. They feel that this is just a loss, that their -- you know, humanity has failed
them is the best way to describe it right now. And that the most basic thing we can do -- call for an immediate ceasefire -- even that is being
met with resistance.
ANDERSON: Laila, I'm going to let you go. I do appreciate the time.
I know it's -- you know, I'm sure, your priority is staying in touch as often as you can with your family there, so we'll let you go. But I very
appreciate the time. It's important conversation, and we do appreciate it. Thank you.
EL-HADDAD: Thank you.
ANDERSON: Just to that point, on the immediate ceasefire, there have been calls for a ceasefire. Israel has categorically rejected those demands. It
was a demand from Hamas in the first instance in negotiate for the release of the hostages.
I mean, there is a conversation going on behind the scenes. We know an emergency UN Security Council meeting was held on Monday, UN agencies
presenting a horrific story to UN Security Council members.
There is an effort to try and get a resolution passed which would echo, to a certain extent, what was passed at the UN General Assembly, albeit, a
nonbinding resolution on Friday calling for an immediate humanitarian pause.
This is diplomacy. Language is important at this point as countries negotiate on what that resolution might look like, what the text might look
like. Clearly, there is an enormous call at present for, at least in the first instance, an immediate humanitarian pause possibly followed by more
It was a UAE-led effort at the UN to call the Security Council meeting -- emergency meeting on Monday and to try to get a text tabled for a vote. As
I understand it, those negotiations are still ongoing as we speak.
Well, the injured who have been able to leave Gaza are now being treated in hospitals in Egypt. Melissa Bell joins me with more from Cairo -- Melissa.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Becky, these have been extremely difficult negotiations involving, as they do, and this is what you've been
speaking about all evening. These conversations between so many different parties that don't actually speak directly to one another.
And yet, that news that 81 of the most severely wounded Palestinians were coming through the Rafah crossing emerged yesterday. We understand that
there will be more. And part of what is made these negotiations so difficult, we understand from officials who have been involved in the
talks, Becky, is, on one hand, the Israeli insistence.
And we heard just a moment ago from an IDF spokesman saying, look, we're keeping a very close eye on everything and everyone that's going out of
Gaza and everything that's coming in.
Speaking to the aid, we know that that is what's been made -- contributed to making the aid getting in so slower the Israeli inspections. And they've
also just confirmed that they're keeping a very close eye on anyone who's hoping to leave. We also understand from sources close to the talks, Becky,
that Egyptian officials have been extremely wary and wanting to keep a close eye on anyone who is being allowed to leave the Gaza Strip.
Remember that the Egyptian position here, Becky, is not only that they've been very wary of the idea of a massive influx of refugees into the Sinai,
but also that, politically, they're opposed to what would amount to the wholesale displacement of the Palestinian population from Gaza. And so they
have also been reluctant to take in people coming out of Gaza, and yet, 81 of those Palestinians now being treated here in Egyptian hospitals. And, of
course, that is tremendous news.
They are the most (inaudible) wounded. We're talking about those who needed immediate surgical intervention. And the idea is there will be many more.
But as you were just saying a moment ago, the situation in the Gaza Strip is so chaotic and so difficult with the lack of communication in so many
parts of it. No food, no water, no communications. They're just getting as far as the Rafah crossing will prove a logistical nightmare for many, even
if they've been made aware of the fact that they might be allowed to get out -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Absolutely. Yes, I mean, you've nailed it. I mean, it is so complicated.
I'm talking to diplomatic sources here and others involved with these negotiations. You made a very good point about just how difficult these
things are with the Israelis so insistent that they see everything, you know, coming in. Hamas, as we understand it, at one stage, demanding that
some of its injured fighters would be evacuated through that border crossing, clearly, something that the Israelis were absolutely insistent
would not happen.
So these talks continue. It does sound as if we're getting, you know, a comprehensive deal on the evacuations. And as I've been reporting, you
know, meantime, these very, very delicate negotiations on the release of the hostages continue, albeit at a -- you know, at a difficult pace, not a
slow pace, necessarily, but it's difficult.
Melissa Bell in Cairo, thank you.
Well, when we come back, the Israeli military says it is at the gates of Gaza City. We'll bring you the latest as the IDF presses ahead with its
ASHER: All right. Smoke was seen rising earlier today above the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza. As we noted, the IDF has now confirmed that they hit
the camp with an airstrike. This is the second time that this happened in as many days.
Israel said it killed a Hamas commander in Tuesday's strike. Salma Abdelaziz has more on the aftermath. We want to warn you though some
viewers may find some of the images in this report disturbing.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dust and debris fill the air after an Israeli airstrike.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)
ABDELAZIZ (voice over): "Ambulance, ambulance," calls the man carrying a child. These are the moments after the Israeli military's attack on the
Jabalya camp in Gaza.
Everyone is disoriented and terrified. And this is the result. Several city blocks leveled in an instant. The scene is apocalyptic. Survivors
desperately dig for their loved ones with bare hands.
Israel says it was targeting a Hamas commander hiding in this densely populated residential area. An IDF spokesperson called the death of
innocent civilians "a tragedy of war." That tragedy tearing apart this community, no one yet knows how many still lie under the ruins.
Shortly after the bombs fell, columns in the enclave were mostly severed. But one Palestinian cameraman was among those able to post on social media.
The anguish is heart wrenching. The victims small and afraid. Moms and dads will bury their children.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)
ABDELAZIZ (voice over): "All three of my children are dead," this father screams, "all three!"
Entire families are wiped out. This man holds up the names of 15 relatives killed in the airstrike.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)
ABDELAZIZ (voice over): "My whole family -- innocent people -- are dead," he says. "Total destruction. Our whole building is gone, 20 stories. This
is a massacre."
At a nearby hospital the carnage is on display. The bodies keep piling up.
With her dead children at her feet, this mother prays for strength. Many in this forsaken enclave feel they have no one but God left.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)
ASHER: Selma there is reporting on those really distressing images there, just right outside the Jabalya refugee camp.
The Israeli military is at the gates of Gaza City. Brigadier General Itzik Cohen claims Israeli forces have pushed deep into Gaza. They say that they
have been met, though, with fierce resistance. Cohen said dozens of anti- tank missiles have been fired at his troops.
For more on this, I want to bring in Nic Robertson who's in southern Israel, in Sderot.
So, Nic, the IDF have been approaching Gaza City from all sides. They're now surrounding the city. Just walk us through what happens next because
they have been pointing out, from this point -- from before this point.
In fact, they have been met with fierce resistance. Once they get into Gaza City, it's going to be very difficult for Israeli soldiers to distinguish
Hamas fighters from ordinary civilians. What happens next?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I can tell you very accurately what's happened in, literally, the last minute. There's
been three absolutely massive missile strikes behind us in Gaza, really loud impacts.
It's not clear what's been targeted. Gaza City is about 7.5 miles behind me.
The inference of what we're seeing in the Jabalya camp, where the IDF has brought to bear, so say that second strike today on precise intelligence,
they say, of where a Hamas leader and others were hiding is indicative of what's to come because the IDF has described their fight in Gaza as one
where the ground troops identify Hamas strongholds and then airstrikes, perhaps similar to the one we just heard there, are brought in on those
What the defense minister was describing a few hours ago at a press briefing about the fight inside Gaza, he said, "it's intense urban combat."
And there's a lot of discussion in the IDF military briefings and by the defense minister about anti-tank weapons that Hamas is using.
And there was this huge expectation by the IDF that when they went into Gaza -- and we heard a briefing that was given earlier on today by one of
the commanders to the troops that, essentially, you're going on to ground that the enemy knows well, that the enemy has prepared.
And one of the preparations that they were expecting was for Hamas to have anti-tank weapons, which are able to penetrate the armor of tanks and the
armor of the -- armored infantry troop carriers that are being used inside of Gaza.
And the death toll among the IDF, that is slowly going up. I think it has reached 16 over the past 24 hours or so and the casualties that come with
that blast injuries the -- from the soldiers that survived these attacks. So I think how the fighting is going to go is instructed by what we see in
Jabalya and instructed by what we learned about the growing death toll of - - among the IDF soldiers. And this isn't something that's going to put off
Their commanders say that they're committed to continuing through with this mission. In fact, the sort of rallying speech that one of the commanders
gave to troops today was precisely that about the difficulty of the battle ahead. It's not going to put the troops and the commanders off their
But I think it is understood by the troops who are in the combat, by the medics who treat them when they get injured, and I think, certainly, by
Hamas that's bringing this firepower to bear that this is going to be, in a civilian neighborhood, a very, very intense and potentially bloody conflict
for both Hamas, for the IDF, and potentially for civilians as well.
Although, of course, the IDF is telling them to get out of the way. And the units that are in there, we saw them being trained a few weeks ago, being
trained for urban combat in mocked up Palestinian neighborhoods, mosques, houses, stores, all that sort of thing. Very well-trained troops going in,
but it's is going to be a very tough battle. And I think that's what we heard that really the essence of what we heard the defense minister
describing earlier today.
ASHER: All right. Nic Robertson live for us there. Thank you so much.
Right. Still to come here, concerns over the regional impact of Israel's war against Hamas. Saudi Arabia's defense minister is in Washington. He's
holding talks with senior American officials. We'll have the details on those meetings just after the break.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone. I'm Zain Asher. Our coverage of Israel's war on Hamas continues in a moment.
But first, the first foreigners have just crossed over the border out of Gaza.
Also, Donald Trump Jr. just took the stand in a New York courtroom to testify in his father's civil trial.
Before that, these are the headlines at this hour.
ASHER (voice-over): Leaders of the U.S. and China plan to meet later this month in San Francisco. This is according to the White House. President
Biden and Xi Jinping last-et face to face in November of last year. A U.S. official told CNN the logistical details are still being ironed out but
there are hopes for a constructive meeting.
A Cornell University student accused of making online threats to the Jewish community made his first appearance in a federal court; 21-year-old Patrick
De did not enter a plea. He allegedly threatened to kill or hurt Jewish students on campus. If convicted he could face up to five years in prison.
And WeWork's shares plummeted as much as 50 percent today on reports that it may file for bankruptcy. On Tuesday, the flexible workspace provider was
granted a 30 day grace period to pay off some of its interest debt. Once valued at $47 billion WeWork now has substantial doubt about its future.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): The U.S. State Department says some Americans have now made their way out of Gaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON (voice-over): President Biden posted on social media earlier that U.S. citizens were expected to leave as early as today and Egyptian
officials said more than 300 foreign nationals entered the country through the Rafah crossing.
About 400 U.S. citizens and family members, a total of 1,000 people have been trapped in Gaza according to the secretary of state, Antony Blinken.
Natasha Bertrand joins me now.
What are the details here?
As we understood it, we knew that there were 400 foreign nationals or U.S. citizens. About 1,000, including family members. They were not expected to
be in the first phase of these evacuations. As we understand it, some Americans have gone through today.
What do we know?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is a bit murky, Becky. It is happening a bit ad hoc. We have seen a couple of Americans have
managed to get into Egypt from Gaza. That includes two American doctors, who have been treating patients in Gaza, including Palestinian children.
They are now safely over the border into Egypt. But the rest of the Americans, it is unclear who exactly they are and the U.S. is still saying,
U.S. officials are still saying that they expect more Americans to be getting out of the coming days in tranches, not necessarily all at once.
As you said, there are a large number of Americans and their family members, up to 1,000 people total, who are trying to leave Gaza at this
point. In terms of the negotiations that led up to this, they were not expected to all be allowed out at the same time as some of the other
So the U.S. is pretty optimistic that this is going to continue, that the exits and the phased release of these civilians inside of Gaza is going to
be allowed to continue, including the release of Americans.
BERTRAND: President Biden tweeted about it and he says he expects more to be released in the coming days. So this is an important step but still a
relatively small one in the grand scheme of things.
The administration has had to answer very tough questions about the ongoing Israeli bombardment of Gaza, including the refugee camps over the last
several days. President Biden has reiterated multiple times that the Israelis have been told by his administration that they need to respect
civilians and international humanitarian law.
It remains to be seen whether President Biden has new red lines on this, whether support for Israel is going to be waning in terms of support by the
United States. The international community, as we have seen, the outrage is growing.
So while some of these civilians have been able to exit Gaza, so many are still trapped there. We do expect, however, according to the U.S., to see
up to 5,000 people who want to leave Gaza, who should be able to get out. Anything may change at a moment's notice, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. And those evacuations are expected to happen over the coming days. Thank you.
In Washington, U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken, meeting with Saudi Arabia's defense minister, Khalid bin Salman, brother of the crown prince,
Mohammed bin Salman.
That is due at any moment. Salman also met with Pentagon chief, Lloyd Austin. These meetings come as Israel intensifies military operations
inside Gaza. Both the United States and Saudi Arabia have expressed concern that the war between Israel and Hamas could widen into a regional war.
The difference between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is the kingdom has been calling, almost from the outset of this, for an immediate cease-fire.
Joining me now, Robert Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Let's be absolutely clear, Ambassador, the kingdom has condemned, in the strongest terms, the Israeli ground operation in Gaza, its strike on the
Jabalya camp and, you know, it's made its position absolutely clear when it comes to a cease-fire or, in watered down language, in diplomatic terms, a
Have you in any way been surprised by how increasingly vocal the Saudis have been?
ROBERT JORDAN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA: No, it is not a surprise at all because the Saudis consider themselves the custodians of
the holiest places in Sunni Islam.
They have a broader responsibility because of that. And I think they would find it almost untenable to waffle and encourage a massive Israeli
incursion (INAUDIBLE) under the circumstances.
I will tell you privately that I think they are aghast at what Hamas has done. They are no friends of Hamas. And I think if you look at it, Hamas is
actually making an attempt to undermine a number of the Gulf era regimes by what they have done.
So I think, privately, we will see the Saudis being more cooperative. But their public statements are something else.
ANDERSON: The kingdom, certainly sharing the concerns around this region, of the risk of escalation. We hear that echoed throughout this region. Here
in the Gulf and throughout the region, through Riyadh's lens, of course, the involvement of the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen and claiming
responsibility for attempted attacks on Israel's southern border.
It must be a real concern.
So what do you believe the Saudis are looking for in Washington?
What is Washington looking for from the Saudis?
And where do you think these conversations can come together?
Where can agreements be forged at this point, given that they're sitting at quite different ends of what should happen next here. As I said, the
kingdom is clearly calling for a cease-fire at this point.
JORDAN: And I think we have got to be clear on the terms. When they call for a cease-fire, they are basically suggesting that Hamas should win and
the Israelis should stand down completely.
But when they are calling for a humanitarian corridor or a pause for humanitarian purposes, that is a different kind of device that might be
viable here to allow safe passage for a number of the civilians to leave at least northern Gaza.
So I think we want to be very careful about what we are understanding them to be saying.
Secondly, I think they will probably proceed with the United States in quietly asking for --
JORDAN: -- some of the same things they were asking under the Saudi- Israeli normalization plan. That was access to about American military
equipment, nuclear technology. They say the something for the Palestinians
and I think that is something that is going to have to be discussed.
But my guess is they are going to exercise some leverage here to the extent that they think they have it and then will be put to some kind of decision
in that regard. But it is going to be very difficult for them to encourage Israeli reprisals against Hamas, given where they stand in the Muslim
ANDERSON: We do know that MBS, the crown prince at the beginning of this conflict made what was his first telephone call to President Raisi in
Iran. This is on the back of the rapprochement that the Saudis have had with the Iranians. We never really understood the details of that
Do you believe that it is still ongoing?
Or has that, somewhat, taken a step back in light of the concerns about the potential Iranian involvement in an escalation in this region?
And, on the flip side, these normalization talks that were ongoing, many people say those are now dead in the water. I just wonder whether there is
a possibility of Saudi playing an increasingly important role in getting the Palestinian solution or the horizon back on the map for some sort of
solution down the road here. Two points there.
JORDAN: To your first point, I think the notion of rapprochement is probably less than meets the eye. They simply renew diplomatic relations.
We have had diplomatic relations with adversaries for years. So I would not read too much into that.
What it does do is it opens a channel of communication between adversaries. I think it is useful to have those channels.
To your second point, I think it is a very distinct possibility that the Saudis can play a role in offering carrots and sticks to the Palestinians.
Part of the problem right now is there's really no Palestinian leadership to deal with. They have maximalist designs in the West Bank.
Mahmoud Abbas is essentially a bankrupt leader with no credibility. Of course, Hamas has vowed to destroy Israel. So until there are potential
partners for peace -- and I think it's going to be very difficult for the Saudis, have contacts throughout much of Palestinian technocrats, many of
the members of the society.
And so they may be able to help cobble together some kind of representative group that could exercise some kind of leadership down the line. I think
it's premature to expect that anytime soon. I'm afraid this is going to be a long slog and very unpleasant, really terribly violent.
But if the Saudis can encourage some sort of humanitarian corridor, which would allow the civilians some sort of access to humanitarian aid, I think
they would be providing a great service.
ANDERSON: Well, they've certainly been very vocal about and trying to get some sort of deal on the table as far as humanitarian cause is concerned.
They voted for that at the UNGA on Friday. We know that there is a draft resolution sitting with the U.N. Security Council at present.
The UAE has led that on behalf of the Arab bloc. They hold a revolving seat, of course, at the U.N. Security Council at present. And I wonder
whether part of the conversations going on with the U.S. today is Saudi pressure on the U.S. to try and get some sort of U.S. support for a
resolution that says humanitarian pause and all pauses going forward.
The Israelis have categorically ruled out a cease-fire. Of course, we know that was something that was being demanded by Hamas at the outset. Those
who have no support or no trouble with Hamas weren't listening to what they said. And that's rightly so at this point.
So cease-fire, it seems, off the table. But you are right to point out that if the world can organize a humanitarian pause, at this point that would
certainly go some ways to relieving what's going on for the Palestinian people.
So one has to assume those conversations are going on behind closed doors. U.S. support for that humanitarian pause would go a long way at this point.
Ambassador, it is good to have. You thank you very much indeed for joining us.
ANDERSON: When we return, despite stubborn inflation, the U.S. Fed again holds interest rates steady. We will discuss the logic of that decision
ANDERSON: The Fed is taking another pause. The U.S. central bank held its benchmark rate steady for the second straight meeting, despite a succession
of rate increases before that.
The U.S. economy is still growing at a solid pace. That resilience has kept inflation from falling faster. However, the bond market is now helping the
Fed tighten the money supply. Treasury yields have risen in recent months, pushing consumer interest rates higher. Fed chair Jerome Powell had this to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: Financial conditions have tightened significantly in recent months, driven by higher, longer term
bond yields, among other factors.
Because persistent changes in financial conditions can have implications for the path of monetary policy, we monitor financial developments closely.
In light of the uncertainties and risks and how far we've come, the committee is proceeding carefully.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Erik Lundh is the principal economist at The Conference Board. He joins us live from New York.
Erik, thank you for being with us. The Fed holding interest rates steady. Walk us through whether you think this was the right decision.
ERIK LUNDH, PRINCIPAL ECONOMIST, THE CONFERENCE BOARD: I think it was a pretty widely anticipated decision. Markets had priced in a pause at this
meeting. We've seen 525 basis points worth of hikes really since 18 months ago.
So there is a lot of tightening that's already occurred. The Fed is trying to suss out where they are going to finally land in terms of a terminal
rate. We've seen some really great growth numbers. We've seen progress on inflation.
But Powell and the FOMC have really not found a position in the economy quite yet where they are comfortable with putting things on pause at this
ASHER: When you think about, it the economy is so healthy, so strong, so resilient. At the same time, the interest rate hikes are parts that made
things difficult financially for households and businesses. It really is such a fine line the Fed has to walk here.
LUNDH: It is. Powell talked about that today at the press conference.
LUNDH: He said the risks were more symmetric at this point. A year ago, the risk was, you know, about not tightening enough.
And now it's really about, do we have the rate right, where we can get to 2 percent, which is the inflation target, without really having a dire impact
on the economy?
We did see some great GDP growth in Q3. That was really driven by the consumer. If you look at things like business and investment, that was
about flat for the quarter, which really shows some of the tightening we've already seen is having the impact in terms of businesses' willingness to
ASHER: Given that, just looking at the data points here, the GDP coming in at 4.9 percent, consumer spending is strong, not to mention unemployment
rate staggeringly low.
How much risk is there at this point, though, to keeping rates unchanged?
LUNDH: The risk is, from the Fed's perspective, that letting go too quickly is going to present an environment where we don't get to 2 percent
for a long time. That is one of the primary objectives.
Powell has made it very clear, meeting after meeting, that that 2 percent is where we are going to get, even if it means pushing the economy into a
slower growth environment.
From our perspective, we've seen the consumer really drive growth this year for a variety of reasons -- pandemic excess savings, revenge spending on
things like vacations and travel. We are also seeing debt levels rise.
Credit card debt is up to about $1 trillion now. We are seeing personal income growth starting to cool on an inflation adjusted basis. So moving
into 2024, we are a little bit more pessimistic in terms of the growth outlook. We think we can see a couple of quarters of even negative growth
in early 2024.
ASHER: So the worst is yet to come. Erik Lundh, live for us there. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Still to come, Donald Trump Jr. taking the witness stand in a $250 million court trial. We have the latest for you next.
ASHER: Donald Trump Jr. now testifying in a civil fraud trial against his father and the family business. There he is, arriving earlier. He is being
asked about his involvement in financial statements that the judge in the trial has already accepted were fraudulent. Eric and Ivanka Trump, as well
as the former president --
ASHER: -- are scheduled to testify in the coming days as well. Brynn Gingras joins us now.
To bring everyone up to speed, the lawsuit at the heart of the civil trial basically says Don Jr. and his brother, Eric, were involved in some kind of
scheme to inflate their father's overall net worth in order to get more favorable terms on loans and that sort of thing.
Just walk us through what Don Jr. had to say for himself today on the stand.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Listen, Zain, he pretty much just got on the stand. We didn't even know if we were going to get to him because of
the other witnesses before him. There hasn't been a ton of questioning just yet.
But so, far he's basically gone through his history with Trump Organization and also was asked about his knowledge in accounting, which he basically
answered, I have a basic knowledge. I learned what I learned in college one-on-one class.
That is pretty much echoing what he said in the deposition to the New York attorney general attorney's office under oath last year, where he said he
has a business degree but he didn't prepare these financial statements at the heart of this case.
He would rely on his accountants, his legal team to do those statements and then he would sign off on them. So it does seem like he is going to be
pretty consistent with that sort of testimony on the stand here in this case.
But of course, we will continue to watch it and see how weaves in and out of the attorney general's questions when it comes to those financial
Again, at the heart of this, case which could quite frankly cost him and his brother and his father their business, their possibilities of doing
business in New York, in addition to a large amount of money.
ASHER: And, Brynn, just give us more context on that, what really is at stake, what really is at stake for both the former president and his family
and their business empire here?
GINGRAS: Listen, already the judge has determined they are liable for fraud. It is unclear what the penalties will be, because there is some
stuff working through the appellate court, some of which has been decided so far, some of which has. Not
What's at stake is a huge amount of money that could be owed back to the state as the state fights for that, money, saying it is owed to them
because of the fraudulent activity. They also could lose their business license, doing business here in the state of New York, their home state.
So that is a pretty hefty fine, so to speak, if you are a Trump -- have Trump in your name as, of course, it's where so much of their business has
been done. It's where it was started.
I do want to get back to these testimony, Zain. We have to point, out Donald Trump Jr. is not the only one expected to testify. His brother,
Eric, is also expected to take the stand. He is a defendant in this case.
And Ivanka Trump, next week. But it's possible Ivanka might not testify. We will have to see. She just filed an appeal to sort of get out of that
testimony. We will have to see where the courts land on that issue.
ASHER: All right, Brynn Gingras, live for us there. Thank you so much. Great to see you.
We will be back after this break.
ASHER: All, right just want to give you a quick update on the situation in Gaza right now. The IDF has confirmed a second major explosion at Gaza's
Jabalya refugee camp in successive days was actually carried out by Israel. It was an Israeli airstrike.