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State of the Union
Interview With South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham; Interview With House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Interview With U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes; Interview With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Interview With Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin; Interview With Palestinian Presidential Adviser Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh
Aired July 27, 2014 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: The world on fire, from the Middle East to Ukraine to Libya, power players from the hot spots.
Today, from Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and from Ramallah in the West Bank, Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh, adviser to the Palestinian president, on the deadly battle in Gaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The whole world is watching a tragic moment after tragic moment unfold and wondering, when is everybody going to come to their senses?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Then, an exclusive with the president's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, a conversation about threats to U.S. security in a rocky, uncertain world.
Plus, visiting Washington from Kiev, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin on Ukrainian efforts to secure the Malaysia Air crash site while battling Russian-backed rebels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I want the Russian people to feel pain in response to the pain they have caused.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi give us their takes in back-to-back exclusives. When the U.S. talks, who listens?
This is STATE OF THE UNION.
Good morning from Washington. I'm Candy Crowley.
After a pause in fighting Saturday, Israel resumed its offensive in Gaza today. But now Hamas says it wants a cease-fire after initially rejecting one.
Joining me now, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr. Prime Minister, it is good to see you this morning. And thank you for your time.
Will you accept this cease-fire, as you understand it, that Hamas now seems to support?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, Hamas doesn't even accept its own cease-fire. It's continuing to fire at us as we speak.
Israel has accepted five cease-fires since this conflict began, five. We accepted them and we implemented them, including two humanitarian cease-fires in the last 24 hours which Hamas rejected, as they rejected all the other cease-fires. And they violated them.
So, you say Israel resumed its offensive. No, we didn't resume our offensive. We had a cease-fire. They violated it. And now they are violating their own cease-fire. And, obviously, we will take whatever action is necessary to protect our people, including against the terror tunnels that they are trying to dig against us.
Hamas is simply continuing all its operations. And Israel will not let this terror operation decide when it's convenient for them and not convenient for them to attack our people,when it's convenient for them to restock and reload, and when it's not convenient for them. We will do whatever is necessary to protect our people.
CROWLEY: So, to be certain that I understand, did someone from the U.N. or elsewhere come to you and say, Hamas has agreed to a cease-fire and here are the terms of it, or are you just hearing this and then seeing what's happening in Gaza and know that there is no cease-fire?
NETANYAHU: Well, as I say, there were two cease-fires, humanitarian cease-fires, brokered by the U.N. in the last 24 hours which we agreed, Hamas has violated. We maintained it. We allowed trucks to go in and so on for relief, for food, for drugs, for everything else that is needed in such cases.
Hamas violated it. Now Hamas floated that it wants a cease-fire beginning at 2:00. And they have attacked us after that. So, they are violating even their own cease-fire. And under these circumstances, Israel will simply do what it must do, what any country would do to defend its people.
CROWLEY: Mr. Prime Minister, your defense minister recently talked about significantly broadening the ground operation in Gaza, asking soldiers, Israeli soldiers, to be prepared for that.
There's a member of Parliament talking about -- quote -- "the next phase." What is that next phase? What does broadening the offensive mean?
NETANYAHU: Look, I'm not going to talk about specific military operations.
But Israel is doing what any other country would do, and certainly the U.S. would do. If 80 percent of your population were under fire and you had 60 seconds or 90 seconds to get into bomb shelters, if terror tunnels were dug underneath your border in order to come in and explode your kindergartens and massacre your people and kidnap American citizens, you would take action.
If America was attacked by land, by sea, by air, you would take action. So, Israel is taking action to neutralize these -- this threat. And I'm not going to get into the specifics. Obviously, we hope we can get a sustainable quiet as soon as possible.
I think the only path to do that is by adopting the Egyptian initiative that basically has unconditional -- has no conditions, except to try to begin to address, have a cease-fire, a cessation of all hostilities, and try to address the two underlining issues here, security for Israel, which means demilitarizing Gaza, and from all these rockets and tunnels and so on, and social and economic relief for the Palestinians.
And I think the two are intertwined. I think you can't get social and economic relief for the people of Gaza without having a sure demilitarization, because, otherwise, all the money, all the concrete, all the cement that will go in will not be used to offer relief to the people of Gaza, but to build more terror tunnels and more rockets and more missiles.
We need demilitarization. That's critical.
CROWLEY: Do you disagree with the characterization that Israel is thinking about significantly broadening its operation in Gaza?
NETANYAHU: Candy, we will take what action is necessary to defend our people...
NETANYAHU: ... both in the tactical sense and the strategic sense.
CROWLEY: So, is the military goal here for Israel to shut down all of the tunnels and stop Hamas from its constant firing of rockets into Israel, sort of destroy their infrastructure, or is it something short of that?
NETANYAHU: Well, I would say we want to stop the firing of rockets, for sure. But we also want to dismantle the terror -- the tunnel -- the terror tunnel networks that we have uncovered.
I don't know if we will have 100 percent success. Our soldiers are dealing with that right now. Just imagine, these are -- you know what these tunnels are? Hamas received international aid from the Qataris and from others. They have received a lot of money.
And people said to us, enable concrete and cement to go into Gaza so they can rebuild -- build Gaza, build schools, build -- build hospitals and so on. They took all that cement and built this vast tunnel network penetrating into Israel, so they can come out under our towns, our cities, our schools and explode our children, explode our kindergarten.
They took money that was -- cement that was used -- meant to build kindergartens for Palestinian children and used it to dig tunnels to explode our kindergartens.
So, obviously, this is -- this is just a nonstarter. It has to stop. And I think that one of the things that we are dealing with right now is how to dismantle this tunnel network that -- our forces are busily engaging in it. I don't think we will have 100 percent success. I can't guarantee that, but we will have major success. We already have achieved...
CROWLEY: Major inroads on that.
Mr. Prime Minister, you know there is a battle on the ground, and then there is a battle in the headlines.
My question to you is whether, given the recent demonstrations we are now seeing in the West Bank and the anti-Israeli rallies that we are seeing in some areas of the West, do you think you are -- are you worried that you are making more enemies than you are killing?
NETANYAHU: Well, Hamas is betting on this, because Hamas is betting on the fact that people don't have the context, that they can hoodwink people, basically mislead the entire world: First, I would like to blow up the West Bank. There's no question about it.
And I think President Abbas is charged with a responsibility, formal and practical, of keeping things under control there, because Hamas would like obviously to have explosions there as well.
Secondly, vis-a-vis world opinion, the world is responding to something that is heart-wrenching, and that is any civilian casualty. We don't want to see a single civilian casualty. We are not targeting a single civilian. But we're faced with a very ruthless terrorist enemy that, you know, lauds bin Laden, accused the United States of killing him, is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, by the E.U.
And anybody with -- with a right mind understands this. And they don't care about not only targeting our civilians, but hiding behind their civilians as human shields. When we ask Palestinians to leave the places from which Hamas is firing against us, Hamas is telling them to stay.
Why are they telling them to stay? Because they want to pile up more and more dead bodies of Palestinian civilians. So when you look at the civilian toll, which is what -- what people are responding to, I ask decent people everywhere to remember this. Hamas is responsible for that. Hamas is responsible and Hamas should held accountable for these civilian deaths.
CROWLEY: If -- And, yes, it is a fact, and people have shown that Hamas does hide weaponry in schools, that it does urge civilians to stay, even though Israel is saying, get out of there.
But does all of that, in your mind, relieve Israel of its stated desire not to have any harm come to civilians? Is there something more you could be doing, looking at what we are seeing going on in Gaza in terms of the victims?
NETANYAHU: Candy, we are doing everything we can.
And the history of warfare has not yet enabled any army, any civilized army, the army of a democracy like Israel, to be able to deal with a ruthless terrorist enemy that uses civilians as a human shield without having some incidental civilian casualties.
Israel does not target a single civilian. But, if you think of what you would do, what the United States would do under similar circumstances, you would act, at the very least, in the same way. And many countries have.
I think this is -- it's important to stress...
CROWLEY: But you know the civilians are there.
NETANYAHU: ... we are seeking...
CROWLEY: So, I guess my question is, if you know that civilians are there, along with, intermingled with Hamas, is there responsibility to try to figure that out with more precision than it seems to be figured out at this point?
NETANYAHU: Well, we are doing exactly that. We are doing exactly that.
But, remember, Hamas is firing at our cities, at our people, firing from these areas, from these homes, from these schools, from mosques, from hospitals. They are actually using them as weapon storage, as command posts and as firing positions, or right next to them.
And, so, what would you do? Would you say, all right, we can't do anything because they are hiding behind civilians? That is their whole strategy. You would actually give them immunity. You would give terrorist organizations a powerful weapon if you say that democracies, a legitimate democracy cannot act against a terror organization because it is using civilians as a human shield, and therefore it should absorb attacks on its own civilians, on its own forces.
You are giving them a tremendous victory. And I think that's wrong. I think you want to minimize, as we do in any way that we can, civilian casualties. And we don't target civilians. But you don't want to give the terrorists the immunity because they use civilians as a human shield. That's a mistake. I don't think Americans or Europeans or Asians or anyone else
would want to have this established as a principle.
NETANYAHU: That's deadly for the peace of the world.
CROWLEY: Prime Minister...
NETANYAHU: A great victory for terrorism, that would be.
CROWLEY: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, again, I thank you for your time this morning.
NETANYAHU: Thank you, Candy. Good to talk to you.
CROWLEY: I want to now bring in Mohammad Shtayyeh. He's a senior adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas.
I guess my first question to you is about the cease-fire. I think you heard the Israeli prime minister say there -- you know, Hamas is already violating its own cease-fire because they are still firing in Gaza. What is your reaction?
DR. MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH, PALESTINIAN ECONOMIC COUNCIL MINISTER: Well, my reaction is that, since this morning, while Israel is claiming that it is abiding by a cease-fire, six Palestinians have been killed, including a Christian nurse in one of the clinics in Gaza.
So, by all means, we are very much entrusted to see an end to the Israeli aggression. And, as I understand, the efforts of Secretary Kerry is yielding some fruits. There will be a Palestinian delegation formed by President Mahmoud Abbas going to Cairo to negotiate the terms of cease-fire.
But, by all means, if the Israeli army is going to be stationed where it is and continue shelling, obviously, Israel is very much endangering. Whether it's a humanitarian cease-fire, whether it's a timing cease-fire, whether it is a long-lasting cease-fire, the Israeli army should not stay where it is now, because the Israeli army now is nearly occupying 50 percent of the total area of the Gaza Strip, which is no less than -- which is more than 370 square kilometers, with 1.9 million Palestinians living in that very small territory.
CROWLEY: Mr. Shtayyeh, I just want to go back to something you said.
So, did you say President Abbas will be going to Cairo? That's my first question, along with this Palestinian delegation. And my second is, Hamas has said, you know, it doesn't like the new government in Cairo. What makes you think, since they turned down the first Egyptian offer at a peace -- or -- offer at a peace agreement, a truce, what makes you think Hamas would go for one now? SHTAYYEH: Well, the president is forming a delegation, is not
leading a delegation. And the delegation will be going to Cairo, as I said.
SHTAYYEH: In the coming few hours, we will be receiving the final answer from Hamas. They are now meeting in Qatar. And we will be receiving their final answer.
The most important thing is that, for us, is this aggression that Israel is taking, totally unjustified, because we know today that the Israeli chief of police has said that nobody has claimed responsibility of the killing of the three settlers that has caused all of this aggression on Gaza.
So, Israel has a hidden agenda to really destroy and to totally destroy the Palestinian -- Palestinian reconciliation that has been signed and that has been culminated by the formation of an agreed-upon Palestinian government.
So, Israel wanted to keep Gaza totally separate from the rest of the Palestinian territory, because all this aggression is totally unjustified. And I was very shocked that the prime minister was speaking about avoiding civilians and so on. Eighty percent of those who have been killed in Gaza are civilians, women, children, old men; 1,080 Palestinians have been killed in the last 18 days. Eighty percent of them are innocent people.
CROWLEY: Mr. Shtayyeh -- right.
SHTAYYEH: And they are claiming that they are sending messages to them. And these people have no place to go. Even a U.N. school was bombarded by the Israeli army.
CROWLEY: Mr. Shtayyeh, what is the Hamas responsibility here? And I ask you that because it does -- it has sent a couple of thousand rockets into Israel since this whole thing started. It does it rather routinely over time.
Have the Palestinians, has the Palestinian Authority urged Hamas to stop the shelling? Has the Palestinian Authority said to Hamas, stop putting your weapons in schools, stop telling people to stay when Israelis told them to go? Is there a Hamas responsibility for this that the Palestinian Authority is doing anything about or urging them to do something about?
SHTAYYEH: Not only that. Not only that.
President Abbas has actually come to terms with Hamas that they are accepting a two-state solution. They are ready for quiet, this long-term quietness. All what brings -- all what brings quietness to Israel is to really achieve this. We have formed a Palestinian- agreed-upon government with the blessing of Hamas.
And the Palestinian Authority here was taking over Gaza. So, we were designing a very well-orchestrated Palestinian -- Palestinian reconciliation on the terms -- on our terms, not on the Hamas terms. Israel -- the whole world welcomed the agreed-upon Palestinian government. The only country that rejected it, that has worked against it, that has fought to destroy it is Israel.
And this is the most important point in the Israeli hidden agenda.
CROWLEY: But has Hamas recognized...
SHTAYYEH: Now, the Israeli claim that Hamas has launched 2,000 rockets from Gaza into Israel, I would like to ask the Israelis, how many civilian Israelis have been killed? One single person. And the other person was an Asian worker.
Thirty -- 30 of those who were killed are Israeli soldiers. They were killed in Gaza.
SHTAYYEH: So, let's not exaggerate the issue of the Israeli fear, and they have 60 minutes to go into hiding and so on.
CROWLEY: So, just quickly, sir, are you telling me that Hamas -- that the Palestinian Authority has said to Hamas, stop the shelling, stop putting your weaponry in schools, and has it recognized Israel's right to exist?
SHTAYYEH: By all means.
We wanted the situation to be very quiet. We wanted peace and we wanted to come to terms with the Israelis. Unfortunately, I should be frank here and tell you that the Israelis, who have totally pushed the peace talks to failure on the 29th of April, the Israelis, who shifted the whole battle from the West Bank into Gaza, Israel wanted to get out of the political corner that it was put into by the international community, by the diplomatic offense that we have been tailoring at the international political arena.
Israel wanted to drag us into a security square in order for itself to liberate herself from a political square. So, this is what is happening now. The Israelis wanted to sabotage the Palestinian -- Palestinian reconciliation. The whole Gaza Strip has been under total siege for seven years. People have not been able to move out of Gaza.
SHTAYYEH: Palestinians in Gaza don't know what Jerusalem looks like. Palestinians in Gaza don't know what the rest of the world looks like. So, they have been under tight siege.
If you put any human being in a siege, he will react. So, what is the -- the way out for all of this misery is that Israel should its -- end its siege on the Palestinians, whether in the West Bank or Gaza or Jerusalem, and allow the peace talks to continue.
Israel has to accommodate the Palestinian demands and aspirations for ending occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. That is the only answer. The Israeli aggression on Gaza does not bring peace to Israel. We know that. Israel might enjoy another one year or two years of cease-fire. That is not what we want. We want end of occupation.
CROWLEY: You want a larger peace. Right.
SHTAYYEH: We want the Palestinian refugees -- 62 percent of those who are living in the Gaza Strip are refugees. We want to end this misery of the Palestinian people in order for us really to live with dignity as human beings in an independent state side by side with the Israeli state.
CROWLEY: Mohammad Shtayyeh, let's certainly hope that you can get to Cairo and that, at least for awhile, a cease-fire can be put in place and then on to a larger peace. Thank you so much. We appreciate your time today.
The Pentagon says Russia is giving more firepower to the Ukrainian rebels accused of shooting down MH17. But does the Ukrainian government have the wherewithal to even push back? Their foreign minister is next.
CROWLEY: Almost two weeks after the shoot down of Malaysia Airlines FLIGHT 17, international investigators say the crash site is too dangerous to access.
I'm joined now by Ukraine's foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin.
Welcome to Washington. Glad to see you.
PAVLO KLIMKIN, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Good morning. It's a pleasure to be with you.
CROWLEY: This crash site has been unsecured because it is in Russian-backed rebel-held territory. Is Ukraine capable of securing that crash site on its own?
KLIMKIN: It's exactly what we have been trying to achieve.
We have been negotiating around the clock with the contact group, with the terrorists, got a number of promises, which were broken in a couple of hours. And exactly at this moment right now, the terrorists fighting in order not to let our Dutch, Australian partners, and our Ukrainian experts to the crash site, because their way is simply to disrupt the passage and to wipe out any sort of traces at the crash site.
CROWLEY: So, do you have the firepower, do you have the military might to push them away from the crash site?
KLIMKIN: But, if you do that -- theoretically, of course, but if you do that, all the traces would be disrupted simply and (INAUDIBLE) the cease-fire for the whole zone of crash site. And it's a sort of unilateral cease-fire. It's a gesture from our side. But the terrorists are not ready to take it on.
CROWLEY: Well, no, but there's still body parts. As you say, they looted, as far as we know, took credit cards, went through people's luggage, disturbed the crash site.
So, all that evidence may be gone anyway. Is that not worth breaking your unilateral cease-fire, because they don't have a cease- fire? And there is some urgency, is there not, to ring this site, so investigators can get in there?
KLIMKIN: It's about human dignity. It's about securing, that the borders should be brought in a dignified way, because what the terrorists did, they simply came with a lorry and dragged away the bodies on the next day. And for us...
CROWLEY: In your country.
KLIMKIN: In our country, because we can't control this area, this small area.
CROWLEY: Well, what do you need? Do you need lethal -- I know that you have asked for lethal weapons from the U.S. The U.S., thus far, as far as I know, has said no. Are you here to request more lethal weapons? Are you here to request some help in at least securing the crash site?
KLIMKIN: Look, we are fully capable of that.
But, for us, it's about recovering the bodies, to get the possibility for the friends and loved ones to get the bodies, to get the bodies back, and not to treat them in that way like the terrorists do it.
So, for us, we are the people of peace. For us, it's about the settlement. And, for us, it's about the people of Donbass, of Luhansk and Donetsk, because they hate the terrorists. But we have a number of Russian leaders, Russian citizens with the special Russian security services.
And they have to go back to Russia, and we can cope with the people, with the criminal gangs on the ground, because it's not about internal conflict. It's about terrorists who are just trying -- not just shooting down the planes, but keeping people hostages, having also the small amount of pensions from the vulnerable and old people. It's exactly what they have been doing.
CROWLEY: So, do you need more assistance, more military assistance, more offensive weapons? And if you can do this yourself, why not just go do it?
KLIMKIN: Because it's about human lives.
And if we make the kind of military offensive, the more people could die. What the terrorists have been trying to do, they will -- they try to put heavy weaponry in the living blocks, heavy weaponry which came across the border with Russia, like tanks, like anti-air missiles, everything.
CROWLEY: Right. Right.
KLIMKIN: And we can fight. It's not about fighting. It's about the settlement. But it's about talking to the people of Donetsk and Luhansk, not Russian-backed terrorism.
CROWLEY: Right. Right.
So, listen, I want to thank you very much for stopping by. I know you are, at this point, pretty tired from a long flight. We wish your country well. Thank you for joining us.
KLIMKIN: Thanks. It's important for us.
CROWLEY: Thank you.
CROWLEY: As many as 17 nations lost citizens in the downing of MH17 almost two weeks ago. Not a one of them has stepped forward to protect that crash site we have just been talking about.
We will ask President Obama's deputy national adviser if this is the best the world can do in the wake of an international tragedy.
CROWLEY: No cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians. Vladimir Putin pushing all in on Ukraine and Libya, again, too dangerous for American personnel.
I'm joined now by U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser, Ben Rhodes. Ben, it is mind boggling to me that 17 countries lost civilians over a war zone. You know, they are headed for vacation or school or whatever and not a single one of them has stepped up to say, rebels go away. We are coming in, back away from this plane and we will secure it.
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, Candy, actually what we have been doing is working through the U.N. to get access to the crash site. And the Dutch and the Australians have stepped up to the plate. And they have offered to provide police to help secure the crash site. President Obama has been in touch with the prime minister of the Netherlands. He has been in touch with his Australian counterpart, Prime Minister Abbott, and we are supporting their efforts in negotiating with the Ukrainians to get access to the site to provide security so that there's an international police force that can provide security.
CROWLEY: So, you think that they would send troops or police or whatever you want to call them and they could secure it. How soon?
RHODES: Well, there are active negotiations with the Ukrainians. Those forces are actually prepositioned in Ukraine. These are police forces, not military -
CROWLEY: They are already in Ukraine and could go?
RHODES: Some of them are already there and there are additional police that could be available. And the goal here again is to get access to the site which will tell us important things for the investigation, to recover any remains that are still out there, given how important that is to all the countries involved. And again, the Dutch and Australians have police available to do that.
CROWLEY: Is the White House thinking about giving Ukraine lethal weapons and more specific intelligence to help deal with the flood of weaponry coming from the Soviets?
RHODES: Well, we're focused on a number of things. First of all we have provided a lot of non-lethal assistance that is relevant to their operations like communications gear, body armor, night vision goggles.
CROWLEY: But they've said, we really need lethal weapons.
RHODES: Well, we've initiated a discussion with them about what a long term training and equipping relationships would be with Ukraine so they have more modernized and professionalized security forces, so that they can provide for security in the country.
We are also very focused what we can do to help them secure that border. Again, it will be Ukrainians in the lead and I should note that in recent days they had actually made significant gains against the separatists. That's part of the reason why we think Russia started the flow in all of these heavy weapons.
CROWLEY: So, is that a yes that you are looking at giving them lethal weapons and training them on them so that they can do -- you know, we don't want to put you -- troops on the ground obviously...
CROWLEY: ...and neither does anybody else. So, you are thinking about lethal weapons, about more intelligence for them?
RHODES: Well, we don't rule anything out here. So, we haven't made the decision about certain types of weapons but intelligence we do provide intelligence and we've reviewed that. We still think the best thing the United States can do is send a message to Russia through very strong sanctions, coordinated with the Europeans. And I'd expect in the coming days, Candy, you will see the Europeans move out on stronger sanctions.
CROWLEY: As strong as the U.S. sanctions are? As strong as you want Europe to be?
RHODES: We believe so. They indicated --
CROWLEY: You think Angela Merkel will put at risk the energy that flows to Germany with stiff sanctions of the sort the president has been calling for?
RHODES: Yes. The president has spoken to these leaders and they indicated in their meetings last week at the European council that the energy sector, the arms sector, and the financial sector on the table for European sanctions.
We are going to continue to develop that package with the Europeans. We are prepared to do additional things to impose a cost on Russia. And we are confident that there's going to be strong action.
CROWLEY: A number of people including Hillary Clinton have said Russia bears some responsibility for bringing down this Malaysian flight. Is that where the U.S. government is now? Yes, they do?
RHODES: Absolutely. They trained these separatists. They armed these separatists. So clearly, we believe they are responsible for the shootdown of a plane that came from Russian backed separatist areas with surface-to-air missiles that are very similar to the ones that are being provided by the Russians.
CROWLEY: And the president says he will hold responsible those who have done it. And by that, you believe more sanctions is the way to go even though they haven't moved them yet?
RHODES: Well, they've had an impact. We have seen almost $100 billion of capital flow. We've seen their growth projection (INAUDIBLE) zero.
CROWLEY: But he's putting more equipment into Ukraine, not less.
RHODES: Which is why we believe there needs to be additional action which is what we're focused on.
CROWLEY: How soon?
RHODES: Europe is committed to doing something by the end of July. So, that would be within the week and we will be coordinating with them over the next several days as that package comes together.
CROWLEY: The report that the content of one of the black boxes reveals a missile strike, is that so?
RHODES: Our understanding of the investigation to date is that everything, all the evidence that we have seen corroborates a scenario where it was a missile strike and a very sudden lost of the plane.
CROWLEY: Is that a yes, that the black box (INAUDIBLE)?
RHODES: I haven't personally reviewed the data but my understanding is that all of the information corroborates the story that -
CROWLEY: That they're getting from the plane corroborates that it was a missile that hit it.
The Obama Administration has said repeatedly Israel has a right to defend itself. Is there any way it can go too far in defending itself? I talked to the prime minister about, you know, there's a battle on the ground, there's a battle on the headlines, and it's losing the battle on the headlines.
RHODES: Well, the basic principle holds. If there are rockets being fired indiscriminately in Israel, they have a right to defend themselves. Hamas is responsible for the conflict.
We have said that Israel does need to take greater care to avoid civilian casualties and the type of loss of life we've seen on both sides in recent days.
CROWLEY: The prime minister told me, they are doing everything they possibly can. Do you think that's so?
RHODES: I think you can always do more. The U.S. military does that in Afghanistan. We go to great lengths. We don't have a perfect record. But we believe in densely populated areas like this you have to go the extra mile to avoid loss of civilian life. The best way to do that is through a cease-fire. And so that's why we focus our diplomatic efforts on getting a calm so then we can negotiate a more comprehensive cease-fire.
CROWLEY: What do you know about what the Palestinian authority is doing, trying to bring about? We heard about a meeting of Hamas is having right now of the possibility that the Palestinian authority under the Abbas name would go to Cairo, something the U.S. would support.
RHODES: Absolutely. What Secretary Kerry was focused on in his meetings including with the Israelis and the Palestinian authorities is can we get a common place to stop the violence and then have a further negotiation under the Egyptian lead in Cairo that could bring together Israel, the Palestinians, other players in support of a comprehensive cease-fire that gets to some of these issues like Hamas' military capabilities and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
CROWLEY: And lastly Ben, the U.S. had to evacuate personnel from Libya in what looked like a fairly urgent manner recently because things have deteriorated and it's so dangerous now in Tripoli. How can we look at this as anything other than a failure to follow up after Muammar Gaddafi was taken from the same?
RHODES: Well, what happened here Candy is you have militia's fighting in the area. Not an attack on U.S. embassy, but rather violence and instability in the area. That's too close for comfort for us so we moved our diplomats out.
CROWLEY: Yes, I know. I get that. The question is, did the U.S. not pay enough attention to trying to work with the groups to get a solid, stable government in place after it helped undo Muammar Gaddafi?
RHODES: Well, what Gaddafi left was an empty shell of a government. He never really built a state and the institutions of a state. So, you have these militias in place.
What we're going to do is keep our ambassador in Malta. She'll be based there to continue to work with the Libyans. We have an envoy who is dedicated to brokering those types of agreements among the different Libyan factions. And in fact President Obama will welcome a Libyan delegation to the summit of African leaders in the coming week. We are going to keep working on it, Candy, because we do believe that there is a huge opportunity in Libya if we can bring the different factions together.
CROWLEY: So, not a failure of U.S. policy?
RHODES: Well again, it points out the difficulties of a post- conflict situation. When you have so many people (INAUDIBLE) of weapons. We still do need to get better, though. I would acknowledge in working with the Europeans and trying to integrate these militias into what can be a truly national Libyan security force.
CROWLEY: Deputy National Security Adviser of the President, Ben Rhodes, thank you for coming.
RHODES: Thank you, Candy.
CROWLEY: Appreciate it.
They used to call the president the leader of the western world but the west doesn't seem to want to follow anymore. Is that about this president or this day and age? We ask House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, she's next.
CROWLEY: With me now on a busy Sunday morning, House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, it's very good to see you.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Good morning.
CROWLEY: I want to talk about presidential leadership here. You know, growing up, it was always the leader of the western world now we're the world's only superpower. And yet the president is taking a lot of criticism at this point for seeming to be sitting on the sidelines. He's out fund raising and the world seems to be blowing up. I know you were with him at a couple of these fund-raisers.
So, you know, the optics of this and you know, photo-ops matter, optics matter. Have they (INAUDIBLE) on the White House on this?
PELOSI: First of all let me disagree with the -- when we were growing up, you after me, but we were in a bipolar word, the Soviet Union and the United States. It's a much more complicated situation now and the president's leadership has been strong. And the issues you are dealing with this morning, the president was in the lead on supporting Iron Dome and asking for more resources now to help Israel defend itself, which it has as right to do.
In the lead for asking for humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people, $47 million to go through the U.N. to help those calling upon others to help negotiate not only a cease-fire, but a peace there. The President and Secretary Kerry's presence there is a manifestation of the President's commitment because it's a sustained high level commitment of the secretary of state representing the administration.
When it came to the Ukraine, the president, early on, called for sanctions. And then last Wednesday, before the plane was shot down, the president asked for sector sanctions, even stronger ones.
CROWLEY: But the notion -- the notion that Putin sort of sized up President Obama and said, he backed off on Syria, he's playing footsy with Iran, he's a softie. He's not going to stop me. Has anything happened that should dissuade Putin from that?
PELOSI: Putin is going to do what Putin is going to do. And it won't add up in terms of statement -- statesmanship or leadership. As the president has said, Russia is now a regional power.
Some of what we see comes from insecurity. Putin, for all of his -- is insecure about Russia's role in the world now. What's happened in Eastern Ukraine, the shooting to begin with, the aggression and then the complicity.
And by the way, the administration early on getting out there and saying we have the intelligence to say that these rockets had a provenance in Russia as well as the ability to launch them. So, nobody is missing in action in all of this.
And as far as Putin is concerned, he's a KGB guy who happens to be the president of Russia and he's going to do what he's going to do no matter who else is in charge any other place in the world. So, I would not judge his actions or his motivations by anything other than he is rooted in the KGB, insecure about Russia's diminished role in the world.
CROWLEY: Right. But certainly closing waves globally at this point.
I want to move you to the Middle East and ask you your comfort level with what you are seeing on television. Again, the headlines versus the ground.
PELOSI: Well again, as we all have said, any country has a right to defend itself when it is under assault and so, too, does Israel. You have been there. You know the proximity. Everything is very, very close to each other. And so, a threat is a proximate threat. It's there.
Again, I repeat that, thank God for Iron Dome which has diminished the casualties that would have been caused if these rockets or missiles were coming in -- CROWLEY: Have they gone too far? Does it look as though Israel
has gone too far? You heard Ben Rhodes, from the president's -- Deputy National Security Adviser, who said, we told them -- we think they could be doing more. Should Israel be doing more to protect civilians in Gaza?
PELOSI: Well, we all -- war is a deadly thing. And I have many Palestinians who live in my district and I am hearing them regularly about how their families are affected who live in the region. It's a terrible thing. But let me just say that any missile that comes from someplace has a return address. And if Israel is responding to that address, then that's a shame that the Palestinians are use -- are rumored to be using children and families as shields for their missiles.
Should we all try to, first of all, avoid conflict, the Hamas initiated this. So again, this has to be something where we try to have the two-state solution, that we have to support -- we have to support Abbas and his role as a leader there. We have to support Iron Dome to protect the Israelis from the missiles. We have to support the Palestinians and what they need. And we have to confer with the Qataris, who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization, maybe they could use their influence to -
CROWLEY: The U.S. (INAUDIBLE) organization though, correct, to you?
PELOSI: We've had that discussion.
CROWLEY: I have to leave it there. I hope you will come back and we will talk politics and mid-term and all kinds of things going on (INAUDIBLE). I appreciate your time..
PELOSI: I think it's important to note though, that through all of this, the Republicans are trying to sue the president on a path to impeach the president while we're trying to create jobs and have stability in our country and in the world. And I'm sorry that we didn't get a chance to talk more about that.
CROWLEY: We will do that the next time, I promise. Thank you so much.
PELOSI: Thank you.
CROWLEY: I really appreciate it.
Vladimir Putin's approval is sky-high in Russia. Does that make him immune to the effects of western sanctions? Senator Lindsey Graham is next.
CROWLEY: With me now, Senator Lindsey Graham of the Armed Services Committee.
Senator, it is good to see you and thank you so much for...
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you.
CROWLEY: ...coming on.
I want to talk to you first about this notion of leadership and the idea that the world really has changed. It's not as simple as the bad guys are in the Soviet bloc and behind the iron curtain and the good guys are in the West. It is now a very complicated world which kind of defies a title of leader of the Western World. How much of this do you ascribe to changing times?
GRAHAM: You know, I think what we've learned from these changing times that without American leadership the world disintegrates pretty rapidly. I said last week, America is the glue that holds the free world together. When you see us missing or AWOL as President Obama's been, you see fracturing on multiple fronts.
Russia is more aggressive, not less. The sanctions clearly are not working. Hamas is demanding open borders. Show me a statement by Hamas leadership that recognizes the right for Israel to resist, then I would consider that request.
These are stark contrast and we're not responding. Passive responses to naked aggression all over the world is our foreign policy. Look what ISIS has been able to do in Syria and Iraq. Without American leadership, the world gets to be a very dangerous place and our allies, like Israel and Ukraine, suffer.
CROWLEY: Well, you know, I think that the White House would argue, and has argued and said, you know, first of all, it now sounds as though they've finally gotten the European allies, including Germany, to agree to stiffen up their sanctions because, in the end, it's more their problem in their backyard than in the U.S. backyard.
As far as Putin is concerned, he may be immune to sanctions, but that's hardly the president's fault. And has he not led in sanctions? The U.S. has upped them and upped them and upped them and Europe has failed to follow until apparently now.
GRAHAM: Well, let's look at it this way. Russia has dismembered the Ukraine, a neighboring nation. It is intimidating its neighbors. Russia has seized territory from the Ukraine.
Here's what I fear with this passive response. With the Ukraine, if it could go back in time give up nuclear weapons. This lack of decisive action. The Ukraine has asked for weapons to defend itself for months and we're still thinking about it. The Europeans can't lead without America setting the standard. They're a dysfunctional political organization, Europe is. And without American leadership organizing Europe and the world you see people like Putin who has an economy the size of Italy. He's playing a poker game with a pair of 2s, and winning. You see Iraq and Syria become safe havens for some of the most deadliest terrorists in the world who directly threaten our homeland. You see Israel under siege.
CROWLEY: Senator, what would you have him do? He can't (INAUDIBLE) -- I mean, you want a more aggressive response. He's been talking to...
CROWLEY: ...the European allies. We don't -- no one here I think --
GRAHAM: Can I get a shot at what -
GRAHAM: I would come to Congress and I'd ask for additional sanctions on the entire Russian economy, Putin included. I would come to Congress and ask for money to equip and train the Ukrainian military.
I would when it came to Israel, condemn the U.N. human rights report that holds his role responsible for the activity here. The U.N. human's right report is a joke. The U.N. has becoming more anti- Israeli, anti-Semitic. I would push back, Congress will do this, Schumer, Menendez and myself, we're going to push back against this report. When it comes to Syria and Iraq, I would come up with a military game plan in coordination with the regional allies to stop ISIS from growing in strength. I would push political reconciliation in Baghdad but I'd come up with a military plan to stop these terrorist organizations from growing in strength before they hit our homeland.
CROWLEY: Senator Graham, I'm afraid I will have to stop it there before I run into Fareed's show but I want to thank you very much for taking time out of your day. I appreciate it. I hope you will come back and we'll be right back.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
CROWLEY: Thank you for watching STATE OF THE UNION.
Fareed Zakaria starts right now with Hillary Clinton for the hour.