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CNN Live Event/Special
U.S. President And First Lady Meet With Queen At Windsor; U.S. President To Meet With Other NATO Leaders In Brussels; Knesset To Vote On Coalition To End Netanyahu's Time As P.M.; Brazilian City Of Serrana Vaccinates Almost All Adults. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired June 13, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello everyone, watching from around the world. I'm Hala Gorani live from Cornwall, England. This is our special coverage of the G7 summit and we start in Windsor. U.S. President Joe Biden and the First Lady Jill Biden are currently with Britain's Queen Elizabeth, set to have tea at Windsor Castle.
They arrived a short time ago where they were welcomed by the Queen herself, of course. The couple was treated to an honor guard formed by the Grenadier Guards. The U.S. National Anthem was played and the President inspected the troops before rejoining the Queen to watch the military formation.
CNN's Max Foster is in Windsor for us for more. On what we have just witnesses, it wasn't an official state visit, but of course, it had an involved all the pomp and circumstance of a visit to Windsor Castle with the Queen.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So believe it or not, this is an informal welcome to the U.K., but for a very important guest. So you had the guard of honor there. And also President Biden was invited to inspect the troops there. These are troops that have worked very closely with American forces in Iraq, for example, so they were very excited to say -- have that, you know, American commander in chief inspecting them as well today.
These troops haven't been able to rehearse properly because of COVID restrictions. They were also very involved with Prince Philip's funeral, and they've been involved in the rollout of the COVID testing program here in the U.K. So I think huge relief that everything went so smoothly today, particularly after the last visit from President Trump, where there are a few faux pas. Nobody's fault, really. But it wasn't as smooth as it could have been. So I'm sure on the military side of this, very pleased with how it's all gone.
Currently, they're inside the castle, the Biden's and the Queen having tea. We will never hear what conversation is about unless the Biden's leak it which I can't really imagine. The whole point of these conversations really, traditionally, is that everyone can speak freely, and nothing will ever be shared. And then the Biden's will be off, they'll be off in a helicopter and onto the next stage of this European tour, Hala.
GORANI: So these conversations, as you mentioned, are private. What can we expect from that? Still photographs, as you said, we won't know what was discussed, unless President Biden or the First Lady decided to share some of what was said.
FOSTER: Yes. So a photo has been taken, and that's going to be shared, and it will show the Queen in the middle and the Bidens on either side within the car (ph). So that's the photo that I'm sure will appear on the Biden's mantelpiece at some point when they get back to Washington.
And as far as the conversation is concerned, the closest we got to finding out what happens in these was actually in the last visit with President Trump and he reveals, let's say, that they talked about Brexit.
So you kind of look for the common ground here. And whilst President Biden identifies as an Irish American isn't necessarily seen as an Anglophile like Obama, or Reagan, or Trump, even.
What these two heads of state do have in common is Irish peace, because he's obviously got a stake with it in it politically and because of his background, but the Queen is seen as being a key part really of the Irish peace process without visit back in 2011, the first visit by British monarch to Ireland handled absolutely expertly seen as a big part of her legacy. And that was seen as a key point to the process of reconciliation between Ireland and the U.K.
So that's something actually they might find some common ground on. And then separately, I'm sure it's so wider discussions about the United Kingdom. And we always talk about the weather, particularly of a tea, Hala. So I'm sure that's going to come up when it's so hot, and the Biden's have got a really wrong impression of British weather.
GORANI: Well, you know, in the U.K. and in England, in particular, when you run out of things to talk about, the weather is always a safe topic to land on. Anybody who's been in this country will tell you that, especially when it's 28 degrees in London and in southern England as it's been a very hot last few days.
Thanks very much, Max. We'll get back to a little bit later.
Let's get more now from CNN Contributor, Sally Bedell Smith. She's the author of "Elizabeth the Queen", and she joins me from Washington, D.C. So this is going to be an interesting meeting. I mean, obviously, Joe Biden, Jill Biden, the First Lady met the Queen at the Eden Project in Cornwall a few days ago.
But in his book, Joe Biden made a passing reference to the encounter he had with the Queen in 1982. And his book promises to keep and a quote from a passage from that book, "When I told my mother I was going to have an audience with the Queen of England, the first thing she said was, don't you bow down to her".
[13:05:10] So, I'm sure it will be perfectly polite. But it's interesting because this is not the kind of approach that every U.S. president has had in his first meeting with the monarch.
SALLY BEDELL SMITH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think the first thing you need to know is, you know, this is her house. Windsor Castle, believe it or not, is the place she really considers to be her house. She will make them welcome. Footman will probably pour the tea. I'm not sure which room they'll be in, but I'm sure she will choose a room that gives a wonderful view of the East terrace and the park beyond.
This is not going to be a substantive conversation. They have lots of things in common. He served in the Obama White House. He -- she had a really good relationship with the Obamas. His son served in the military. The Bidens love dogs. She may have her pet dorgi with her and the dorgis are her exclusive breed of dorgis and corgis and dachshunds.
And it will be, you know, she will make them feel at ease. There won't be any bowing, there won't be any curtseying. And they may touch on what they experienced when they were down in Cornwall together. But I don't think that we can expect anything of substance because the Queen after all is what they refer to as the light of politics.
And she has relationships now with 13 U.S. sitting president with exception of one, Lyndon Johnson, she never met him. But she's always had an easy relationship whether, you know, it didn't matter what party that were.
I remember talking to Bush 41, and he said, you know, she may seem reserved and formal. But he's -- I don't know how to explain it, but she just makes everything very easy. It's a real challenge.
GORANI: And Sally, I just want to tell our viewers what they're seeing here. Joe Biden, the U.S. president and his wife, the First Lady Jill, are getting ready to depart. They're going to board Marine One, the helicopter, and they are going to head toward Heathrow Airport, where Air Force One is waiting for them on the tarmac and they will be then heading to Brussels for a NATO meeting. There'll be a meeting there as well with President Erdogan of Turkey and then on to Geneva for that sit down with President Putin.
Talk to us a little bit about what state of mind the Queen might be. And she just lost obviously, her beloved husband. She's hosting --
GORANI: -- her 13th sitting president. She was all smiles. I mean, she -- this is -- she's a woman of duty. This is her duty.
SMITH: She is.
GORANI: What she is doing, she's performing her duty. Talk to us a little bit about what she might be going through as she hosts the President just a few short weeks after losing her husband. SMITH: Yes. Well, I think, you know, because Prince Philip retired in 2017, she, you know, she became accustomed to doing things on our own. And I thought it was very sweet that Joe Biden actually did the review with the, you know, of the troops because that was a roll that was always Prince Phillips.
She actually a campaign aide (ph) President Trump when he did the review. And I think it was sort of a little signal that President Biden did it on his own. I mean, she's obviously, in mourning over the loss of her husband of 73 years, but she also has a profound sense of duty. And she keeps on, she carries on.
I mean, I remember at the end of Prince Philip's funeral, they had the bugles playing battle stations, and to me, that seemed to be Prince Philip signaled to the rest of the family. All right, you've done me honor, and now it's time for everybody to get back to work. And that is --
SMITH: -- what she has done. I mean, she has done a lot of work in the last few days. She was down in Cornwall, and yesterday she reviewed the drupes for the drooping of the color. And today she met the President and this is what she does and she is a consummate professional. And I'm sure she enjoyed herself.
GORANI: Sally, we would love to be -- Sally, we'd love to be a fly on the wall of those private moments --
GORANI: -- when the Queen is hosting Joe and Jill Biden. But from what we know, from what we've been able to learn over the decades, what are these conversations usually like?
SMITH: The conversations are friendly, you know, they obviously have all everybody's done their research, and they all know what they have in common. And she typically leads the conversation. And -- bur it's, you know, as I said, they're really don't get into substance, an accident (ph), maybe they talk about the weather, and they may well do that. They may talk about dogs.
They -- but, well -- and I think they'll probably and she could -- they could reflect back on the special relationship over the years and the times that she was in Washington, for example, in 1991 and she gave an address to Congress. And Joe Biden was there.
So he matters. You know, he met her once in 1982. And he has seen her in action. She's -- he's certainly heard a lot of her, certainly from the Obamas. So I can't imagine that there was anything that they, any moment, when they ran short of conversation, because there's just -- she loves America. The only holiday she's ever taken out of the United States. We're in America, you know.
SMITH: She was -- she went for five years, she went five different times. She had a holiday in Kentucky. She had a holiday out west. So she's familiar with America, she's been all over the place.
SMITH: There are many things she could, you know, raise with him that aren't the least sensitive or political in any way.
GORANI: Thank you, Sally Bedell Smith, author of "Elizabeth the Queen", there for more on this visit by Joe Biden and Joe Biden to Windsor Castle. The President inspected the troops before rejoining the Queen.
With the Windsor Castle formalities now in his rearview mirror, Mr. Biden is shifting his attention to NATO in Brussels. He begins his meeting with NATO leaders on Monday. And one of his big goals is to set a new tone for the alliance following four contentious years. He spoke about that earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only way we're going to meet the global threats that we're -- is by working together and with our partners and our allies. And I conveyed to each of my G7 counterparts that the United States is going to do our part. America is back at the table. It's -- America is back at the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, CNN's Jeff Zeleny is live in Brussels. And in his news conference there, we just played a snippet of it. Jeff, the President was unequivocal that NATO is not a protection racket, that it's vital to the interests of the United States. So he's really taking that message directly to NATO leaders on Monday.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: He absolutely is Hala and he'll be arriving here in Brussels this evening. And he will be holding a series of meetings tomorrow at NATO. But he's going to be continuing the theme of, you know, strengthening the alliance that we both heard him talk about in Cornwall.
Of course, he'll be meeting many of the same leaders. And this is really part of his America is Back, a theme and argument. He's trying to make the case to these leaders that he does believe in the power and the promise and possibility of NATO.
This has been something that has long been part of Joe Biden's professional life from the Senate to the vice presidency, and indeed the presidency. So he has visited NATO many, many times. But of course, never as the president, never as the commander in chief, but he is going to talk about the importance of Article 5. And of course, really changed the tone from everything that President Trump did when he visited Brussels and NATO. When he really, you know, thumbed his nose at the institution, at the
organization at the idea of there being an alliance. But behind the scenes, White House officials and the President are preparing for that meeting on Wednesday in Geneva with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And at that news conference earlier today, in Cornwall, President Biden agreed with President Putin saying that he does believe that relations between the U.S. and Russia are at an all time low. And he did not really raise expectations for anything being able to necessarily be solved or come out of the summit. He said one cannot change someone's behavior but he does hope that there can be some common agreement on climate change perhaps or other matters.
And one of his top advisor, Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, I thought summed it up pretty well. He said this meeting is testing whether Russia is interested in a stable and productive relationship. So that, of course, is framing all of this a discussion. One thing we are not going to see on Wednesday, which we did see three years ago in Helsinki, when former President Trump met with Vladimir Putin.
That side by side press conference, we are not going to see that this time. President Biden is not going to be standing alongside President Putin. Each of them will be left to sort of spin the narrative as they would like. But clearly the White House does not want to elevate and give the Russian President that platform after their meeting on Wednesday. Hala?
GORANI: All right. Jeff Zeleny live in Brussels, thank you.
Straight ahead, there could soon be a new Prime Minister of Israel, the vote that could seal Benjamin Netanyahu's political fate. We're live in Jerusalem when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: We will soon know the political fate of Israel's longest serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A special session of Israel's parliament is currently underway and Netanyahu will be removed from his role if a confidence vote on a proposed diverse coalition clears the Knesset. If passed, the right-wing leader Naftali Bennett will be sworn in as prime minister.
CNN's Hadas Gold is following the very latest developments. And she joins me now from the Knesset. There are two votes, I understand, one vote for speaker of the House and then a vote immediately following that one for which would be a confidence vote in the coalition, correct?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Hala. As we speak right now, they are undertaking that vote for the Speaker of the Parliament. They're going through one by one all the 120 members. And then after that will be the big moment, the confidence vote for this new government, this new coalition government, the most diverse in Israel's history that could also bring the end to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's tenure as the longest serving Prime Minister of Israel.
And there is a feeling here that though this vote has not yet actually taken place, and though nothing in Israeli politics is over until it's over, there is the sense here that this is it. This is the end of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's tenure, he will now be in the opposition, leading the opposition and the new prime minister is expected to be Naftali Bennett, the leader of the small right-wing, Yamina party. He gave a speech earlier opening this session up.
And although it was supposed to be a sweet sort of introducing himself thinking Netanyahu, it became very combative because of hecklers from both Netanyahu's Likud party and other right-wing parties. They were calling Naftali Bennett a liar and embarrassment. At one point, it got so combative. It got so disruptive that the Speaker of the Parliament actually had to kick some members off of the Parliament floor so that Naftali Bennett could try to continue his speech.
Now Bennett in his speech, acknowledge the heckler saying that he's happy to be in a democracy where such opposing views can be heard and can take place but he said that such combativeness is part of the reason why there was such political dysfunction over the past two years, four elections in two years, dysfunctional governments for the past two years. No state budget for two years.
Take a listen to some more of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PARLIAMENT MEMBER (through translations): Two times in our history, we lost our Jewish Home exactly because leaders of the previous generation refused to sit with one another. I am proud to sit with people with different opinions. At the decisive moment, we took responsibility. We took responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD: Now, Naftali Bennett also thanked President Joe Biden for supporting Israel, and last month's conflict with the Hamas lead (ph) the militants in Gaza, saying that he will work to deepen and broaden the bipartisan relationship with both Democrats and Republicans in the United States. But warning that he will still be against any sort of return to the Iran nuclear deal, showing that though a government might change certain policies will stay the same.
Now, Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part also had the opportunity to speak. And in his pretty much parting speech as Prime Minister, he laid out what he said were his accomplishments saying that he is -- he and his party are leaving Israel as a global powerhouse, more powerful than it was before.
But it was otherwise a very negative speech. He had no words of encouragement for the incoming government spending much of his speech attacking Naftali Bennett. And actually his former chief of staff saying the new government will be weak, will be a danger to Israeli security.
He also went through a litany of disagreements that he had with the America administration, saying that he's not sure that Naftali Bennett will be able to stand up to an American president. Take a listen to some of what Netanyahu had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translations): Prime Minister in Israel must be able to say no to the President of the U.S. in topics that are threats to our existence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD: Now, Netanyahu vowed that he will work to topple this government today, he said is a danger to Israeli security. We're having a warning to Israelis -- to Israel's enemies saying in English, we will be back soon. Now, Hala, we seem to be just minutes away from this potential confidence vote and from the end of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel's Prime Minister. Hala?
GORANI: It would be the end of an era. What about public reaction? There are anti-Benjamin Netanyahu protests, I understand, right outside of the Knesset. And I believe we have video of that, we can show our viewers. What -- these are live images coming to us from Jerusalem. What overall is really public opinion? Where does it land in terms of support for this coalition government?
GOLD: Well, of course, there's a split between right-wing and left- wingers. Left-wingers are overwhelmingly if you look at recent polling in support of this change government, even though it will be led as prime minister by a decidedly right-wing, the Prime Minister. But for many in the center left, they just wanted to change. They just wanted to see Netanyahu out.
When you look at polling from people who identify as right-wing, they're less supportive of this government, even though it will be led by a right-wing Prime Minister. They would rather have either another election or a return to a Netanyahu-led government.
And the coalition members who are coming up and been speaking over the past few hours, they've been saying over and over again that the majority of Israelis want to change. They want to change to also just have a functioning government, Hala, because keep in mind, for the past few years, there has not been a budget.
Now this can affect many aspects of Israeli society, including down to an NGOs, the charities who cannot function in the same way without a budget. And that has been a lot of the criticism. There's just not been a functional government for the past few years. And that's one thing that this coalition says that they will do. They will simply work.
They say that they will simply have a functioning government. They are vowing to pass a budget within the first 150 days. And if they can get a budget in place, that will, I think, be a big indication to whether this government will even survive beyond six months, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Hadas Gold, thanks very much, live at the Knesset. A tumultuous day in Israel today.
Let's take a look at what's happening around the world. We'll get back in touch with Hadas as soon as that vote takes place.
A gas explosion in China has left at least 12 people dead and scores more wounded. Take a look at some of these dramatic pictures. The explosion happened in Cheyenne city early Sunday morning. The damage is tremendous.
The agency there reporting that among the 150 people found in the area, 37 were severely injured. The cause of the explosion is still being investigated.
Also at the Euro 2020, stunning new details about what played out after a Danish player collapsed on the field Saturday. A team doctor now says Christian Eriksen, in his words, was gone. Gone, he said, before being resuscitated.
The doctor says Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest, but was revived with a defibrillator. He later sent greetings from the hospital to his teammates and is now recovering. Very much if -- according to this doctor, his life was saved right on the field.
Now, the Copa America football tournament gets underway in Brazil today. But a day before the event, Brazil reported more than 79,000 new COVID cases and more than 2,000 deaths. The virus is also reaching some national teams. At least 12 members of the Venezuelan team and staff and four from Bolivia have tested positive. Five Venezuelan players who are now positive will not be playing in Sunday's opening match against Brazil. Thankfully.
But one small city in Brazil is making a big difference though. Unlike the rest of the country, most of its adult population has now been vaccinated against COVID. And researchers are using it as a case study and how to contain the virus. CNN's Shasta Darlington explains.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Serrana, Brazil, the focus of a clinical study of vaccine immunity. These parishioners' fears of the deadly coronavirus have given way to hope for a new beginning.
ELAINE APARECIDA DE OLIVEIRA, SERRANA RESIDENT (through translations): I think our city is privileged. The vaccine is a hope, a light in the midst of all this darkness.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): The campaign by Butantan Institute in partnership with Sao Paulo University of Medicine to vaccinate almost all 30,000 residents of the city in South Paulo State with the Chinese Sinovac vaccine began in February. When roughly one out of every 20 people in Serrana had COVID-19.
MARCOS DE CARVALHO BORGES, PROF. RIBEIRAO PRETO MEDICAL SCHOOL, USP (through translations): More than 10,000 people go to work in other cities. This leads to these infectious and contagious diseases. So this series of factors make Serrana almost ideal.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): And while full results will not be published until July, the preliminary data from the study has given a glimpse into the very real possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic can be contained through mass vaccination.
RICARDO PALACIOS, CLINICAL RESEARCH MEDICAL DIR., BUTANTAN INSTITUTE (through translations): The reduction rate for hospitalizations obtained with the study is 86 percent in the entire population of Serrana. And the reduction in deaths was 95 percent.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): In Brazil, a country with the second highest death toll from COVID-19 struggling to cope as the virus ravages its population. Those figures giving researchers reason to celebrate.
PALACIOS (through translations): We were able to affirm with the study. It is possible to control the epidemic through vaccination. We do not need to isolate, prevent the transit of people to control the epidemic. Vaccination is the key.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): With vaccine shortages throughout Brazil and most of the developing world, replicating that success is easier said than done. Reaching a level of predicted herd immunity like what appears to be on display and Serrana, researchers say, still requires vaccinating a minimum of 70 percent of the population. And with vaccine reluctance throughout the globe added to the mix, the order becomes even taller.
But here in Serrana, there's reason to be grateful.
REV. JULIANO GOMEZ, SERRANA RESIDENT: (Speaking Foreign Language).
DARLINGTON (voice-over): Father Juliano Gomez, who once saw his parishioners united in grief as COVID took root and stole the lives of so many loved ones, sees light returning to his community.
GOMEZ (through translations): I see us establishing this opportunity for a new normal, which symbolizes a state of more tranquility, health and hope. It is what the world is wanting. This is happening to us here in Serrana. That is why I'm very happy
DARLINGTON (voice-over): Serrana for now on display for what is possible, a spark of hope for the wider world still caught in the deadly grip of the COVID pandemic.
Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.
(END VIDEOTAPE) GORANI: When we come back, G7 leaders vote to address inequality. Find out what they're planning to do and whether experts think their plan will work. You're with CNN.
GORANI: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage of the G7 summit. I'm Hala Gorani in Cornwall, England.
The American president Joe Biden and the first lady just wrapped up a meeting with Britain's Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. The couple was set to have tea with the monarch after receiving a lavish welcome. They were treated to an honor guard by the Grenadier Guards and what's being called an informal visit. This is informal for the queen, by the way.
Up next, the Bidens are doing Belgian for NATO's summit. CNN's Max Foster is in Windsor for us. And I understand there are still photographs of this meeting between the queen and Jill and Joe Biden, those photographs have just been released.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and they're pretty innocuous, in a way. But, you know, these are the photos that go down in history, in a way. You know, the queen has met 13 sitting presidents, 12 during her reign. This is the latest one. And this is the photo, really, that symbolizes that moment. So, I'm sure it's something that the Bidens will treasure as well and probably hang off on the mantelpiece somewhere.
And (INAUDIBLE) element, really, what goes on inside the castle that we get to see because the conversation is always kept private. I was asking Prince Edward about that last week. He says that's one of the great things, one of the strange things, really, about these conversations, there is no communique or press conference afterwards, they can speak absolutely freely about whatever they like.
And often heads of state from other parts of the world enjoy that with the queen simply because she's been on the world stage as a head of state since the 1950s and has met so many people and has so much she can speak to. So, I'm sure the conversation was led by the Bidens in what they wanted to learn from the queen. And he is a student of presidential history. So, this is a direct link to all those other presidents that have met the queen before him.
They're only in for about an hour, but I'm sure they had time to speak to everything and make their way through that tea as well, which can be a bit of a process in the English upper classes.
GORANI: For sure. And the COVID restrictions, I mean, nobody was wearing a mask. How was that all organized, this visit?
FOSTER: You know, it's interesting, isn't it, it's something that struck me. They didn't quite shake hands when they arrived but it was pretty close. In the photos, they were pretty close together as well. We can only assume they've had all the vaccinations.
And the protocols are slightly different here in the United Kingdom. I think, certainly, some of the American viewers have made note of how there were no masks since how they were very close together. But I think, effectively, what we've got in this U.K. at the moment, in these sorts of situations, is largely about personal choice.
A lot of the restrictions have gone away, although they are -- you know, there is this concern currently about the Indian variant rising up again in the United Kingdom. I think it's you note that. I think that might be something that the papers pick up on as well.
But this was -- I think, this is a big personal moment for President Biden. And now, he's onwards on his European tour. I think this is probably, if could describe it, as the fun bit, as you say, pretty informal for the queen but pretty formal for the Bidens.
GORANI: Absolutely. Max Foster, thanks so much The U.S. president there inspecting the troops, the U.S. national
anthem played as well during this visit to Windsor Castle. Thanks very much, max.
Let's look at some of the work of this summit now. Leaders endorsed a drive to create what was described as a fairer global tax system in terms of corporate taxes, that is, aimed at addressing inequality. It would include a global minimum tax on corporations and a collective crackdown on tax avoidance.
They say it will create a more resilient global economy and champion freer, fairer trade. Current global tax rules date back to the 1920s, so they're a bit antiquated and can't easily address multinational tech giants.
So, is this really going to address inequality? We're going to hear from Alex Cobham in Oxford England now. He's the chief executive of the Tax Justice Network. Thanks for being with us.
Alex, first I'm going to ask you about this minimum 15 percent corporate tax. What do you make of it? Is it a good start? Is it enough, do you think, or does it need to go further?
ALEX COBHAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, TAX JUSTICE NETWORK: Well, it's a very important step, but it only addresses one aspect of fairness. So, what they're doing is trying to get multinational companies on something more like a level playing field with domestic businesses that typically pay all their taxes.
We know that multinationals are increasingly able to exploit the international rules in a way that allows them to get their effective tax rate often down to just 1 or 2 percent, certainly well below the kind of 15, 20, 25 percent that normal businesses are paying.
So, this rate is a good step, but it should be higher. We've really asked for it to be 25 percent or more, but it's a step towards fairness. Where this falls down, however, is in the fairness of the distribution. We think this is worth additional revenues of about $275 billion each year.
But the G7 countries alone will take more than 60 percent of that. And that means that all the other countries around the world who also desperately need revenues to build back, to fund their public health services and so on, in the teeth of the pandemic, they're really being denied by this.
GORANI: The U.S. president is speaking to reporters. Let's just take that for a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I said, you know, man, this is -- it's a long time since. Oh, no. I said, I wish we could stay longer, maybe we could hold the cars up a minute and stuff. Anyway, she was very gracious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the castle like? Americans never go there. Why is that?
BIDEN: Oh, by the way, she said -- I said, this is -- we could fit the White House in the court yard. And she said, what's it like in the White House? I said, well, it's magnificent, but it's -- a lot of people, she said. I know. She said, here -- she said, on this end we're going is private. The public can go in the other end. So, anyway, she's very gracious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you invite her to the white house?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, guys. Thank you.
BIDEN: Oh, thanks, guys. Appreciate it very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir. Safe flight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
BIDEN: Are you guys going on the --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're coming with you.
BIDEN: Oh, good. OK. Great. Come say hi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: A quick exchange between the U.S. president and reporters there at Heathrow Airport. He's just about to board Air Force One on his way to Belgium where he'll be attending, of course, the NATO summit. He'll be meeting with President Erdogan of Turkey.
He was asked about his visit with the queen. I wish I could have stayed longer, he said. And he also mentioned that she asked him about some aspect of the White House, I didn't quite catch the words there, but we'll get you more details on what was said there by the president about his visit with the queen as that information comes in to me.
Alex Cobham, let me get back to you. So, we were talking about the fairness of establishing a minimum corporate tax of 15 percent, you believe that percentage should be higher. My question is, how long would it take, anyway, to implement such a minimum corporate tax? Because even if G7 countries agree among themselves, you need a wider agreement, a much larger community of nations to agree on this for it to be effective, for it work and for it to be implemented effectively.
COBHAM: Yes and no. So, the G7 are really are just backing what the OECD and G20 process has been developing over the last two and a half years or so, but they're backing a very unfair version of it. So, the G20 will meet in July and they have the opportunity, and that's a set of countries who could gain two and three times as much revenue under a fairer approach to the minimum tax. They have the opportunity to put this on a much more compelling basis.
And at that stage, you're talking about countries responsible for 80 to 90 percent of the global economy. They don't need to introduce an international treaty that could be blocked by tax havens like Ireland or the Netherlands, they can just go ahead as a coalition of the willing. And at that stage, you've really got this happening within the space of perhaps just 12 to 18 months.
GORANI: And do you expect that to happen?
COBHAM: Yes. I mean, the U.S. administration is clearly very serious about this. They're want to get this through Congress as quickly as they can. They learned the lessons from the Obama administration that what you don't do in the first year often doesn't happen. And we know the European Union countries, in particular, the major economies are firmly behind this.
So, we think it's going through and it is a great step forward, but it has to be done much more fairly, the benefits have to be shared with countries at all income levels.
GORANI: But what about countries that don't cooperate? I mean, that still act as tax havens? Wouldn't you have big tech companies, for instance, shifting their headquarters there so that they only pay taxes on the profits of where they're headquartered rather than where they generate revenue?
COBHAM: So, the great thing about the design of the global minimum tax is that it cuts through that. So, if we have the G20 economies, let's say 80 or 90 percent of the world's economy, all the profits that are made in that bit of the economy are going to be captured by this tax rate. So, you can shift some profits between Ireland and Singapore and the Netherlands and Bermuda but only the profits you make there, which is very little. Everything else will get captured, whether you want it to or not.
GORANI: Alex Cobham, chief executive at the Tax Justice Network, thanks so much for joining us, I appreciate your take on this.
Let's go back to Hadas Gold, she's at the Knesset in Jerusalem for more on this expected vote of confidence in the new coalition hoping to unseat Prime Minister Netanyahu. What's the latest?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Hala, they just completed the election of the new speaker of the parliament, his name is Mickey Levy, he's from the centrist, Yesh Atid party. This is the party led by Yair Lapid. He is the one who actually received the mandate to form the government and is the one who is -- one of the big forces behind this new coalition stepping aside to allow somebody else as prime minister, Naftali Bennett.
So, the new speaker of the parliament has taken the podium, taken the position as the speaker. And we're expecting his first order of business is to call this confidence vote in this new government, this new coalition government.
Now, as we say, nothing is over until it's over in Israeli politics, but there is the feeling, the sense here that they will have the votes, that they're not expecting any more surprises tonight, any surprises at all, they'll have the votes to bring this new government in. And the moment this confidence vote happens, and we're expecting it, I believe, to be by name, they'll go down name by name of members and ask for their votes, after that confidence vote is counted and if it passes, that means, immediately, this new government is in place.
They will then go one by one to be sworn in, and then it will be the end of Benjamin Netanyahu who has run -- 12-year run, longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history. It will then turn to, actually, his former chief of staff, Naftali Bennett, the leader of a small right- wing Yamina party who, in an unusual confluence of events, is leading a very unusual, diverse government with parties from the left to the far right, and for the first time in Israeli history, an Arab-Israeli party signing up to be a part of this coalition.
So, in just the next few minutes, Hala, you'll be seeing Israeli history in the making.
GORANI: And apologies, we're going to have a few audio problems here, there is a group of singers floating past me in Cornwall here. So, I'm afraid I might be drowned out. But if you can still hear me, my next question is about what happens after this coalition is voted in and each member is sworn in? What will the makeup of the government be like?
GOLD: Well, it will be the most diverse, the most unique government in Israeli history, eight political parties sitting together who don't agree on much other than they did not want Netanyahu to continue as prime minister. You've got everybody from the far, far left parties through the center to the right-wing party.
I mean, on some issues, Naftali Bennett is further right than Benjamin Netanyahu. And as I noted, we have an Arab-Israeli party for the first time sitting as part of a governing coalition. So, you can imagine what the behind the closed doors discussions might be like on some of these issues that they are likely to have deep disagreements on.
But the first order of business for this government is just to survive, because they will be a very fragile coalition. They have a razor-thin majority. And Benjamin Netanyahu, as leader of the opposition, and his allies will be trying everything in their might to tear this coalition down. We saw some of that action earlier today when Naftali Bennett was trying to give a speech and there was heckling.
Heckling was so bad during his speech that actually the speaker is a Netanyahu ally, a Likud member, had to actually kick some members off of the parliament floor just because of how disruptive they were being. And I think that gives you a sense of the combative nature that this new government will be entering into.
It won't be easy. But they say that they just want to be a functioning government. Their very first order of business will be to simply pass a budget, that Israel has not had a state budget for at least the past two years. They say that they will do so within 150 days.
And the sense here is that if they are able to pass a state budget, if they are able to survive for the next few months, then they are more likely to able to survive even longer and actually, stay in place to the point that this rotation agreement between Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid will actually take place because that's part of the deal. Naftali Bennett will be prime minister for two years then Yair Lapid, who will first be foreign minister, will take over as prime minister.
Of course, the big question is whether this government will survive long enough for that switch to take place. But this coalition says that they will simply be a functioning decent coalition. They will not take on any hot button issues to start, don't expect any sort of major peace process with the Palestinians to be the first point of order for this new government coming out. They're going to be focusing on things like infrastructure, the economy, welfare programs, because their main motivation is to simply stay together and to survive. Hala.
GORANI: And as joining us now as well. I understand the vote is under way. Again, apologies, there's an acapella group, a wonderfully harmonious group of acapella singers behind me. So, apologies to our viewers if there's a bit of few audio issues.
Oren, talk to us a little bit about what happens in the coming days and weeks and what Benjamin Netanyahu will be like in opposition.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is about to be outgoing if this confidence vote goes the way Naftali Bennett wanted to go, and certainly, the way that the speaker of the Knesset vote indicated it may well go, he will make a very difficult life for the coalition. He was a very successful leader of the opposition in the past and said he intends to be so once again in his speech before this confidence vote. So, a couple of hours ago now. He was one of the first speakers. He spoke mostly in Hebrew. He only said a few words in English and he was speaking to his internal rivals within Israel as well as the outside enemies, including Iran. He said, we will be back soon. Netanyahu very much intends to stick around and he will make it very difficult, looking always to peel off, looking to exacerbate the rifts within this eight-party coalition. That is his stated goal and is one he might be able to do very effectively, especially because of this being a razor-thin margin.
That will make very life difficult, as Hadas pointed out, for this coalition as they try to pass even the simplest bits of legislation. Everybody, any single member of this coalition has leverage to essentially demand whatever he wants from the coalition. And that will make it extremely difficult to pass not only a budget but any other piece of legislation. That's something that everyone here is very well aware of and why there are some analysts who expect this coalition to fall apart very quickly.
But, of course, that's not necessarily true, Netanyahu himself made a 61-sit razor-thin coalition that worked very well for him, from 2017 to 2019. And that, of course, is the flip side of this coin. The theory there is that in a bare minimum coalition, too many of these players have essentially committed political suicide if this doesn't work out.
An analogy one political expert said is that, in a 61-sit coalition every member gets a gun with one bullet, and it's very dangerous to pull the trigger there. And that, in and of itself, holds this coalition together or could hold this coalition together.
First, of course, Hala, it needs to get through this confidence vote that's ongoing right now, a voice vote, meaning all 120 members of the Knesset are called one after another to see which way this goes. And once the speaker of the Knesset reads out the tally, we will know who the government is, whether Bennett has pulled this off or whether Netanyahu has pulled off one last bit of magician. In which case, what happens next? He remains interim prime minister.
If Bennett wins, as Hadas said, key is to pass a budget. Perhaps just an interim budget to get through the end of the year and then another budget after that. And then try to legislate the few areas, but important areas, where there is overlap. Cost of living, state and religion, trying to get at the issues that this government can legislate.
Of course, the much more difficult issues, the big picture issues, what to do with 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank, 2 million in Gaza, those are far more difficult questions, one this coalition, Hala, is not really equipped to handle regardless of how far pressing those issues are.
GORANI: Do we still have Hadas?
Hadas, a quick question, I'm sure many viewers are wondering, why did it take four elections to get to this point, to get to a very wobbly, fragile coalition? What's been going on? What explains the current situation in Israeli politics?
GOLD: Well, listen, part of the structure of Israeli politics, as all of these small parties, you know, no party in Israeli history has ever actually had by itself the 61-majority needed to gain control of the Israeli parliament. So, there has always been coalitions, there have been fragile coalitions, there have been strong coalitions. And I think that's part of the reason here.
But I think a big part of the reason here, what a lot of the politicians themselves say that Netanyahu picking up enemies along the way is part of what brought his downfall, because it's not so much his policies that much of this coalition is against, it's the man himself. Because if you look at who is making up his coalition, his former chief of staff, his former -- people who have been working with him, his former alternate prime minister or defense minister, and I would say former, we're minutes away from it being former.
But I think that the enemies that he's built along the way, the fact that many of these politicians simply say that they don't trust Netanyahu, because even in the last few weeks, while Lapid had the mandate, Netanyahu -- there were reports of him of throwing up -- trying to throw new coalition agreements, trying to offer alternating prime minister deals with other party leaders, and they all just said no, mostly because they just said they didn't believe that Netanyahu would actually follow through on these promises.
And I think that's part of the reason why you saw this dysfunction, why you saw four elections in the last two years, a record number, and now, finally, this really diverse coalition, never before seen in Israeli history, so many parties from such opposing viewpoints across the ideological spectrum, willing to sit together with pretty much one common goal, to see the end of Benjamin Netanyahu. Because for many of them, they did not feel like you could overcome -- they could overcome this political dysfunction without getting the biggest roadblock out of the way, and that is Benjamin Netanyahu, who just, in the last few minutes, we just watch his vote against this new government. Of course, not a surprise. But voting against pretty much the end of his tenure.
But we're just waiting, any minute now, for these votes to be counted up, and to see whether this new government will be sworn in within the next few minutes, bringing an end to Netanyahu.
But it won't be the end of Netanyahu for good, because he will stay in the parliament, he will stay as the opposition leader and probably a very vocal one at that. Because keep in mind, that though he may no longer be prime minister, although he might be in the opposition, he will lead the biggest party in the parliament, they have more seats than anyone else and they will still be able to have an influence on what happens.
And, of course, they will -- as Netanyahu himself has promised, he will do everything to try and topple this government. It is a fragile coalition. And as Oren said, it's almost as though a single member has a veto, because that's really all you need in order to try and bring this coalition potentially down. But if they are able to pass a state budget within the next 150 days, as they promise, then they will have a better chance of actually staying around. Hala.
GORANI: Yes. This is the first time, Oren, that an Arab politician has joined a governing coalition. What kind of influence will Mansour Abbas have?
LIEBERMANN: First, it's a milestone that this is actually happening, that an Arab party has joined the government. There have in the past been Arab parties supporting from the outside, for example, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, had Arab parties supporting from the outside. So, it is a historic milestone that an Arab party has joined the government.
What sort of influence does he have? That, of course, depends on a crucial question, does this government last? If not, he is one of those in this governing coalition who may well have just committed political suicide. He needs accomplishments. He needs this government to hold beyond just a few months. He needs to show that he has brought successes, that he has brought budgets, that he has brought accomplishments and achievements to the Arab community in Israel. About 20 percent of Israel's population.
If he can do that, if this government, as a whole, can do that, then it is no doubt a major accomplishment for him. He gets influence, certainly with the bare minimum majority here, he has the veto power over the coalition. So, he already has influence, he needs it beyond that.
He needs this government to last so he can show the Arab electorate that he has accomplishments, that it was worth it for him to essentially put aside some of the most important issues to the Arab population, that is to say, Palestinians in the West Bank, Palestinians in Gaza, but to show that aside from that, he has brought accomplishments.
And if he can do that, it goes beyond just a milestone today. It goes an accomplishment that may well go down in Israel's history books. And, of course, it goes to his own electoral benefit if and when this coalition falls apart. If it doesn't last the full four years.
And that's what he's banking on here, that to have a hand on the levers of power in Israel that is to be a part of the governing coalition is worth it. It is worth putting aside some of those central tenets of the Arab citizens of Israel, and it's worth being inside and being able to have a hand in how the government is shaped, how the government acts, what the government does. That's the bet he has made. If it's a winning bet, it is no doubt an incredibly important achievement for Mansour Abbas.
Interesting to note, that when he spoke in a debate ahead of the confidence vote that's now going on, he chose to speak mostly in Arabic. At the end, he switched to Hebrew when he said, let's not look at each other as enemies anymore, let's work together to bring accomplishments here. It's incredibly important to note, he wasn't just courted by Naftali Bennett trying to topple Netanyahu, he was very much courted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
And this is an important point, and that it was Netanyahu who was essentially culturize (ph) working with the Arab parties. Only after Netanyahu did it and failed in trying to do it, just a few weeks ago, was it OK, essentially, in the few of Israeli politicians for Bennett to start working them.
For Yair Lapid who will be foreign minister here to start working with them. And that's what allowed the toppling of Netanyahu. It was Netanyahu who allowed the government that toppled him. Hala.
GORANI: Can we just go to Hadas Gold, the results here on this vote of confidence. Hadas, tell me more.
GOLD: So, the vote has just happened. They had enough votes for this changed government. We are seeing now the hall erupted in cheers, the members of the coalition applauding, hugging one another. People coming up to Naftali Bennett, who is now prime minister. We've got the actual vote tally. We had 64, 59 against, and I believe one abstention, which was enough. That was -- I mean, that is as thin as that margin could be for them to be able to have this new government.
But, Hala, for the first time since 2009, someone is now prime minister of Israel whose name is not Benjamin Netanyahu. And in the end, many people will say it was his own personal relationships that brought about the end, because the person who is replacing him is his former chief of staff and many people sitting in this government are his former allies.
We are now watching Netanyahu leaving the floor, he is keeping his mask on, although many people have been removing their masks. But he clearly looks downtrodden and he is shaking hands with some people, whereas the member of this coalition, they're high fiving each other, they're hugging each other. This is a momentous moment in Israeli history.
Benjamin Netanyahu has been both the youngest ever prime minister of Israel and also the longest serving prime minister of Israel, not only the last 12 years, but also keep in mind, he had a first term 15 years in power as Israel's prime minister, 71 years old, now ousted.
Right now, we are expecting soon the swearing-in of this new government. But this is it, the vote has happened, they have finally -- this coalition has done the seemingly impossible, brought together political parties from across the ideological spectrum.
I have to say, many people in Israel would have never imagined that an Arab-Israeli party would be sitting in a coalition government along a right-wing former head of a settler's organization. They are sitting together in the government alongside left-wing parties, alongside centrist parties, all with the common goal to bring this man, Benjamin Netanyahu, out of power.
And now, Hala, they have done it. There is a new government in Israel, a new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, now the prime minister of Israel. And now, he has many, many challenges ahead of him as we've seen in the past month, very active month here.
There is a cease-fire with Gaza, there is potential prisoner exchanges with Hamas in Gaza, and meaning to keep that cease-fire. There are still incredibly high tensions in East Jerusalem, possible evictions of Palestinian families.
These challenges will be presenting themselves to this newest government and to the prime minister very, very quickly, within the next few days. And as much as they may not want to get into these hot button topics in order to keep this very fragile coalition together, they will be inevitably faced with them. They will have to make some tough decisions that could spell the fate for this government, whether they are able to keep it together.
But history has been made tonight, Hala. Benjamin Netanyahu no longer prime minister of Israel, now we have Prime Minister Neftali Bennett. Hala.
GORANI: All right. The end of an era with 60 votes in favor, 50 against, and one abstention. Crucially, Oren and Hadas, it is not 61 because it is a majority of the votes cast in this case. A new era has begun in Israeli politics. Naftali Bennett is now the new prime minister of Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu is out.
So, Hadas, I've got to ask you, what happens next, what kind of government will we see materialize as a result of this vote of confidence?
GOLD: Well, this new government's first order of business, after the swearing-in, after the celebrations, after the photo op tomorrow at the president's house, will be to pass a budget. But also, one thing that I think we should expect is a potential visit to the United States. The new prime minister, the new foreign minister, will likely want to go see President Joe Biden and bring about potentially a new relationship here.
Now, on certain things, like we heard from Naftali Bennett, on the Iran nuclear deal, we'll hear a lot of the same language. Naftali Bennett said today that he does not believe that a return to a nuclear deal is a good idea, and they will be working against it. But I think that the relationship, especially on the outside, publicly, will be much different.
Keep in mind, of course, that Netanyahu very famously, in 2015 gave, the address to Congress, angering the White House, angering President Obama, as he went to the White House to speak against the nuclear deal. This relationship will be, I think, a different one.
And one of the first orders of business for them, and this is something Naftali Bennett said, is try to deepen and expand the relationship in a bipartisan way with both Democrats and Republicans. Because as we've seen in the last few weeks, it's become a very -- Israel has become a very partisan issue in the United States.
GORANI: Hadas Gold, thanks you very much. Live at the Knesset.