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State of the Union
Parents of Hamas Hostage Speak Out; Interview With Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Interview With U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan; Interview With Fmr. Gov. Chris Christie (D-NJ). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired November 26, 2023 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Back home. More Israeli hostages are set to come home this morning if a shaky pause in the Israel-Hamas war holds another day.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We are committed to return all our hostages.
BASH: What are we learning about the release of Americans? White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan joins me next.
And pressing pause. President Biden touts the Israel-Hamas truce.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I consistently pressed for a pause.
BASH: But with the day left before it runs out, what happens next?
Senator Chris Murphy of the Foreign Relations Committee joins me exclusively.
Plus: all in. As foreign policy dominates us politics, one Republican candidate makes his case.
FMR. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have got serious problems. We need a serious president to take them on.
BASH: Is there a better way to counter Trump? 2024 Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie coming up.
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is watching families reunite and thinking about those still waiting.
We begin this morning with breaking news. Hamas is set to release more Israeli hostages from Gaza, including, we are learning, an American citizen. This is the third day of a four-day pause in fighting. Israeli leaders have a list of the people who are expected to come home today after weeks in Hamas captivity; 41 hostages, 26 of them Israeli, are already home now.
And this morning, the Israeli prime minister's office said they believe 201 hostages still remain in Gaza. We saw a 9-year-old Emily Hand run into her father's arms. He was originally told that Emily was dead, before learning she was a hostage, so this moment of pure joy was once unimaginable for him.
For others, the reunions are bittersweet. The Or children were released Saturday. Their mother was murdered on October 7, and their father is still being held by Hamas.
The question now, whether this fragile truce could hold longer than four days, allowing more aid into Gaza and more hostages to come home.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live in Kerem Shalom.
Jeremy, what's the latest?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, for now, Israeli officials are preparing for the third round of hostages to be released by Hamas into the arms of the Red Cross and then eventually crossing into Israel.
We have watched over the last two days as 26 Israeli civilian hostages, as well as 15 foreign nationals crossed via this Kerem Shalom crossing, which is right behind me here.
But even though those two releases showed the promise of this deal with Hamas, yesterday, we also saw its fragility, as there were multiple issues that led to delays, hours-long delays in those hostages ultimately being released, Hamas claiming that Israel was not allowing sufficient aid into Gaza.
But I'm also learning now of another major behind-the-scenes struggle. Israeli officials pushed to try and include the mother of 13-year-old Hila Rotem, who was released as part of the 13 Israeli hostages yesterday, but who wasn't released was her mother.
And that is not in keeping with what we have seen in recent days, where mothers and children who were taken hostage together have been released together. I'm told that Israeli officials fought hard behind the scenes yesterday to try and get the mother included.
But, at this point, her condition, her whereabouts are simply not known. But now, Dana, we are looking at next steps, not only trying to sort out whether today's release will go forward, if everything will go smoothly, or if we will have bumps in the road like yesterday, but also looking forward.
We are on day three now. Tomorrow will be day four, which is the last official day of this 50 Israeli hostages deal in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners. But there is an option to extend, 10 additional hostages per day, earn an additional day of truce and 30 more Palestinian prisoners.
So now officials will turn to that issue as well to see if this truce can be extended -- Dana.
BASH: Jeremy, thank you so much for that reporting.
Here with me now is White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
Thank you so much for being here this morning.
An Israeli official told CNN that at least one American citizen is expected to be part of today's release of hostages. Can you confirm how many Americans are on that list? And do you know who they are yet?
JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, just taking a step back, Dana, the 50 hostages that were part of this initial four- day deal, those were women and children.
And there are three Americans who fall into that category, two women and one child. Now, we know those three were missing. We cannot say for certain whether all three of them are still alive.
But we do know this. We have reason to believe that, today, one American will be released. And I say reason to believe because I want to be cautious about making any firm statements until we actually see that individual cross the border to safety and ultimately be reunited with their family.
SULLIVAN: We're dealing with Hamas. We are in a "don't trust, but verify" situation here.
And so we have reason to believe that there will be an American release today. We have been in close touch with the Israelis, with the Qataris, with the Egyptians. Over the last 24 hours, President Biden has been personally engaged with the emir of Qatar on this issue. And so today should be a good day, a joyful day.
But until we actually see it happen...
SULLIVAN: ... we are going to remain really at the edge of our seat.
BASH: Yes, and that's completely understandable.
Having said that, do you have reason to believe that the American you're talking about is 4-year-old Abigail Idan?
SULLIVAN: Here's what I will say. We are now hopeful that Abigail will be released, reunited with her family. She turned 4 just two days ago. She has been through hell. She had her parents killed right in front of her and has been held hostage for the last several weeks.
We are hopeful that she will be released. We are hopeful that she will be released. I'm not going to confirm that it's today, but I am going to say that we have growing optimism about Abigail, and we will now watch and see what happens.
BASH: Jake, later in the show, I'm going to talk to the parents of a 22-year-old IDF soldier who is an American citizen. Do you have any information on his condition and that of other Americans still in captivity and is there any progress towards bringing them home?
SULLIVAN: Dana, which of the IDF soldiers are you referring to?
BASH: His name is Omer Neutra.
SULLIVAN: I actually had the opportunity to meet his parents at the White House, along with the family members of other American hostages.
And I know, just listening to them, that they are going through incredible pain and uncertainty and difficulty. And I can't even imagine what that could possibly feel like.
I told them directly -- and we have been candid about what we know and don't know -- that we do not know the specific whereabouts or condition of Omer or other Americans, because, until the end of this deal, until the end of tomorrow, we will not have from the Red Cross proof of life or other information related to their ability to visit hostages.
SULLIVAN: So, as we learn that information, we will absolutely share it with the parents.
But, no, I do not -- sitting here today, I'm not in a position to confirm the precise condition or whereabouts of Omer or other American hostages.
BASH: You said that you hope that you will get information from the Red Cross, though after this initial deal is complete.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said that that -- also said that the Red Cross would be allowed to visit hostages still being held by Hamas to ascertain their status. But Israeli officials say it hasn't happened. Did Hamas in fact agree to that, and do you have confidence that it will happen if so?
SULLIVAN: That is part of the deal. We expect it will happen.
I'm not going to characterize myself as confident in anything right now, because, again, we're in a "don't trust, but verify" circumstance. But we do believe that Hamas is obliged to maintain its part of the commitment on Red Cross visitation of the hostages.
And we expect Qatar and Egypt and other countries to hold Hamas accountable to fulfill that commitment by the end of tomorrow.
BASH: Israeli officials are signaling that they plan to resume their offensive, the military offensive, as soon as this pause expires. The defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said yesterday -- quote -- "Any
further negotiations will be held under fire."
Is Israel rejecting calls from the U.S. to hold off on its offensive in order to try to continue negotiations?
SULLIVAN: Well, first, Dana, just to be clear about the terms of this deal, Israel has already agreed that it will continue to pause fighting day by day after the end of the four days, as long as Hamas keeps releasing hostages.
So, the ball is really in Hamas' court. If Hamas wants to see an extension of the pause in fighting, it can continue to release hostages. If it chooses not to release hostages, then the end of the pause is its responsibility, not Israel's, because it is holding these hostages completely illegitimately and against all bounds of human decency or the laws of war.
BASH: So, just to be clear, if Hamas...
SULLIVAN: So, really, we will see what Hamas ends up choosing to do.
BASH: Yes. So, to be clear, if Hamas, after this four-day pause is over, says, OK, here's the next list of hostages that we will release, Israel will continue its military pause, no question?
SULLIVAN: That is correct, 10 hostages per day, for as many days as Hamas releases 10 hostages, Israel will continue the pause in the fighting. That's part of the terms of the deal that Israel agreed to.
That's a commitment Israel has made. And now, as I said before, the ball is in Hamas' court.
BASH: Have any of the hostages who have been freed provided any insight or intelligence to Israel and U.S. officials that could help locate those still in Gaza?
SULLIVAN: We are just at the beginning of learning about the debriefings of those hostages. So I will withhold comment until there can be more time for that to take place.
We're just talking about the last couple of days that hostages have been released. And the early hours have really been much more about caring for their trauma...
SULLIVAN: ... for their pain, and also getting them reunited with their families.
So it's going to take a little while for us to get that information, for Israel to get that information. But you can sure that Israel is focused on learning anything it can about whereabouts, locations and other information based on conversations they have with the released hostages in the days ahead.
BASH: Another major aspect of this deal is that it is allowing for significant amounts of desperately needed humanitarian aid, fuel, medicine, water, food, to enter Gaza.
President Biden said there are mechanisms in place to ensure those supplies go to civilians and not Hamas. What are those mechanisms? And do you have any indication that they have been in place, or has Hamas actually benefited from this pause?
SULLIVAN: Well, first, Dana, there's the inspection mechanism.
The Israelis at a crossing called Nitzana check all of the trucks before they go in through the Rafah Crossing into Gaza. And they check to make sure that it is in fact humanitarian supplies, and not goods that could help Hamas in its military campaign.
Second, those trucks go to U.N. depots and to other humanitarian organizations that are vetted and trusted partners. And once they are in the hands of the United Nations and humanitarian organizations, they are distributed directly to the people.
And we have seen this work over the course of the last several weeks, as humanitarian assistance has ramped up. We have seen it work, that it's actually getting to people, and that it's not being diverted into the hands of Hamas.
But that's something that we have to continue to focus on, on an ongoing basis. President Biden stays in close touch with the Israeli leadership on this, with the U.N. leadership and with others to make sure, in fact, the aid is getting to where it belongs, which is the innocent people who are suffering.
BASH: I want to look ahead a little bit and ask about Prime Minister Netanyahu, because he is, as you well know, in a precarious domestic political situation.
He knows that as soon, as this war with Hamas is over, he's going to face questions that he's been putting off about the failure to prevent the October 7 attacks, questions about his tenure as prime minister.
Is there any concern inside the Biden administration that Netanyahu doesn't necessarily see it as being his interest to end this war as quickly as possible?
SULLIVAN: Look, I'm not going to speculate on Israeli politics.
What we're going to do is just stay focused on who's sitting in the chair of prime minister, and that is Prime Minister Netanyahu, and deal with him straight up on the issues that we are confronting today.
And President Biden has been able, through his direct diplomacy with Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as his diplomacy with Arab leaders, to generate the introduction of humanitarian assistance, the safe departure of foreign nationals, including Americans, from Gaza, the first pause in the fighting in 50 days since this conflict began, and hostage releases.
So, President Biden believes that his engagement with Prime Minister Netanyahu has paid dividends. He's going to continue to focus on that high-level, direct, leader-to-leader diplomacy...
SULLIVAN: ... and leave others to determine the politics, the political considerations.
We will stay focused on the task at hand.
BASH: Let me ask you it this way before I let you go. Maybe it's easier than delving into domestic Israeli politics.
If Hamas doesn't continue to release hostages, and if the military operation, Israel's military operation, resumes, would President Biden support that, no matter what? Because he has supported it, of course, until now. But would that change if Israel resumes its military campaign?
SULLIVAN: President Biden has been clear that Israel has a right, indeed, a responsibility, to defend itself against an implacable terrorist foe that continues to go out and say that it intends to attack Israel, continues to launch rockets, not obviously during this pause, but in the days leading up to it, and continues to indicate that it will not stop representing a direct physical threat to the people in the state of Israel.
President Biden believes any country, including Israel, has a right and responsibility to defend itself against that kind of enemy. He also believes that any military operations have to be conducted in a way that protects civilians, that distinguishes terrorists from civilians, and that ensures that those civilians have safe places to be and access to lifesaving humanitarian aid.
He has been focused on the kind of spadework necessary to get that humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza. He's going to stay focused on that as a primary objective in the days ahead.
BASH: Jake Sullivan, thank you so much for joining me this morning. Appreciate it.
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
BASH: My next guest just visited Israel, where he stepped up his criticism of former President Donald Trump, but now some Republicans say there's a better way for him to take Trump down. Chris Christie is here next.
And as we watch for more hostages set to be released today, we are going to continue to get the latest on that. Stay with us.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Happy pictures of families reunited after hostages endured seven weeks of Hamas captivity. Israeli women and children are the first to be released; 41 people have been freed over the past two days, and we are awaiting the release of more Israeli hostages this morning, including at least one American, while, here in the U.S., the temporary truce is welcome news, despite rising questions about what comes next.
Here with me now is Republican presidential candidate and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Thank you so much for joining me.
CHRISTIE: Thank you.
BASH: I want to start with, of course, what's going on in Israel. President Biden said this deal is only a start and expressed hope that it could lead to a more extended truce. It expires after tomorrow.
Do you think that Israel should try to keep this pause going in order to get more hostages out?
CHRISTIE: Dana, look, I have been very clear on this. I think Israel has to make that evaluation based upon the success of what they have already done regarding degrading Hamas' military capability.
I traveled throughout Israel, as you know, a couple of weeks ago, and I saw the destruction that Hamas did to Israel and killing so many of its innocent citizens. And so I think that their main priority has to be degrading Hamas' capability to militarily strike against Israel and its people again.
You can't ask the Israeli people who survived the attack to return to their homes near the Gaza border if you have not degraded Hamas' military. So I think that needs to be priority number one in terms of making these judgments. And I have no problem with continuing to negotiate for hostage release.
Obviously, we'd love to see all the hostages released, but we also don't want to see another tragedy like we had on October 7 in Israel.
BASH: You also, when you were in Israel, met with families of hostages.
Do you believe that degrading or trying to dismantle Hamas is a higher priority than bringing home the hostages?
CHRISTIE: Yes, look, it's a very, very difficult call, Dana.
And I think that, for those hostage families, obviously, the highest priority for them is to get their family members home. I just think Israel can wind up being able to make that evaluation itself. It's the one that's in the best position to make that evaluation.
But I would say this. The long-term peace and stability of Israel depends upon the degrading of Hamas' military capability. And it has to be the highest priority, because Hamas is trying to wipe Israel off the map. And they're doing so with Iranian, North Korean and Russian assistance.
And so the U.S. has to be supportive of what Israel is trying to do militarily, but always provide the kind of advice that friends provide in terms of when is enough enough. And we will certainly help to make that evaluation with them. But, ultimately, that's Israel's decision.
BASH: Do you believe President Biden deserves credit for pushing through the deal that has at least brought some of the hostages back to their families?
CHRISTIE: Look, I think that any time there's return of hostages, that's incredibly helpful. And President Biden and his administration has played a role in it. So they deserve credit.
But, also, the terms of this release are really lopsided towards Hamas, as you know, three to one in terms of hostage release and this pause that's going on as well. So, look, I think everyone can always second-guess the negotiation from the outside. You're not in the middle of it.
What I'm grateful for is that these hostages have been returned to their families. That's extraordinarily important and humane to have that done. So I think President Biden deserves credit for that.
Where I think he's starting to err into an area where I think is wrong is to say he hopes that this continues, that the truce continues. He can't be doing that kind of stuff, in my view, publicly. His voice has to be just purely supportive of what Israel is doing to try to protect its territorial integrity and the safety and security of its nine million citizens.
That's got to be priority number one for the United States, and everyone in the Middle East has to know that that's America's number one priority.
BASH: Governor, I want to ask about the spike in hate against Jews in the United States.
You told "The New York Times" that you believe former President Donald Trump's -- quote -- "intolerance for everybody" has contributed to the surge in antisemitism and Islamophobia. How so?
CHRISTIE: Well, look, when you show intolerance towards everyone, which is what he does, you give permission as a leader for others to have their intolerance come out.
And so intolerance towards anyone encourages intolerance towards everyone. And that's exactly what's going on here. And that's been going on for quite some time, not just with Donald Trump, but with university professors on some of our most elite campuses in this country, with university administrators and presidents who have been unwilling to stand up against antisemitism on their campuses most particularly.
And there should be no campus in this country where a Jewish student is afraid to leave their dorm, a Jewish student is afraid to go to their classes, a Jewish student is afraid to go to even have a meal in the dining hall. I mean, that is outrageous and it's wrong.
I think governors in those individual states should be sending State Police to make sure that they're protected on those campuses. And we need to have university presidents who are willing to stand up and be counted against hate. And that's exactly what's going on here. We saw this display also at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
These are folks who are ignorant. And when they talk about intifada, my guess is, two-thirds of them don't even know what intifada is. And if they did, they'd be ashamed of themselves for calling for the elimination of the Jewish people around the world, which is what intifada is.
And so, in the end, look, I think that there have been a lot of people who contributed to it, and I believe Donald Trump's intolerant language and his intolerant conduct gives others permission to act the same.
BASH: Let me ask you a little politics. The race that you were in, you want to be president, but your twin missions are that and to stop Donald Trump.
In the most recent CNN New Hampshire poll, Donald Trump is winning by 42 percent of likely GOP voters. You are third behind Nikki Haley. Neither you nor Nikki Haley come close to challenging Trump on your own, but together you have support of 34 percent of New Hampshire voters.
Is there any scenario where you and Nikki Haley somehow work together to try to consolidate that anti-Trump vote?
CHRISTIE: I think Governor Haley and I both have the same goal, and that is to be president of the United States.
And I think we're showing great momentum in New Hampshire. We have been gaining over the last couple of weeks. I think we're going to continue to gain in that -- in that fight. And I think we're going to do very, very well in New Hampshire on January 23.
And this idea of people just doing math and adding up numbers, that's not the way voters vote. And so I would say to everybody out there, let's let the campaign move forward. This is the smallest Republican field at this stage in this century that did not include an incumbent, the smallest. It was 13 eight years ago at this stage. I was in that race. Before that, in 2011, there were eight people in the race at this
stage. And, in 2007, there were nine. This race has consolidated very nicely. You really now, in my view, have four major contenders for the nomination, Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, me, and Nikki Haley.
CHRISTIE: And the fact is that we're the major contenders for the nomination. And every everyone else who's still hanging around the fringe of the race is not a serious contender.
BASH: And just to button it up, you are in this race through the New Hampshire primary?
CHRISTIE: I expect to be in this race through to the convention, Dana, and so, yes, absolutely.
All right, Governor, thank you so much. Appreciate you being on this Thanksgiving weekend.
CHRISTIE: Dana, thanks for having me. Happy Thanksgiving to you and to all your viewers.
BASH: One of the key questions is, how much longer will a truce between Hamas and Israel last? Democratic Senator Chris Murphy is next.
And, again, we are waiting for the next group of Israeli hostages to be freed.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
We are awaiting a Hamas hostage transfer. And National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told me earlier in this program that the U.S. has reason to believe it will include an American and is hopeful it will be 4-year-old Abigail Idan.
Here with me now to discuss this and more is Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Thank you so much for being here.
Senator, 41 hostages have been released so far as part of this deal negotiated between Israel and Hamas. President Biden says it is only the start. This truce expires in two days. Jake Sullivan told me that the ball is in Hamas' court whether it will be extended.
What happens if Hamas doesn't agree to release more hostages? Do you think that Israel should resume its military operations in Gaza? SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I believe that Israel has a moral
obligation to defeat Hamas, at the very least to render it incapable of launching an attack like the one we saw on October 7.
So, yes, that job is not done. But let's give credit where credit is due. President Biden and his team worked 24/7 with partners in the region to make sure that this release was possible and to set a framework through which we can see more hostages released.
This is a president who is right now showing the American people what real leadership looks like. Hopefully, Hamas will accept the conditions that have been laid down that will allow for more hostages to be released. But, if they don't, ultimately Hamas is going to be defeated.
That's in Israel's interest, but it's also in the interest of the United States. We do not want terrorist organizations believing they can get away with the kind of murder that Hamas did on October 7.
BASH: Yes, so fighting against terrorism and, as you said, moral obligation. You believe it is a moral obligation for Israel to continue this war.
You also, though, have been critical of the way that Israel is conducting the war. You called the civilian death toll unacceptable and unsustainable. Your colleague Senator Bernie Sanders wants the Biden administration to put conditions on USA to Israel to pressure Israel to reduce civilian casualties in Gaza.
He wrote -- quote -- "The blank check approach must end. The United States must make clear that, while we are friends of Israel, there are conditions to that friendship and we cannot be complicit in actions that violate international law and our own sense of decency."
Do you agree?
MURPHY: Well, I stand by what I said.
I do believe that the level of civilian harm inside Gaza has been unacceptable and is unsustainable. I think there's both a moral cost to this many civilians, innocent civilians, children often, losing their life, but I think there's a strategic cost.
Ultimately, Hamas will get stronger, not weaker, in the long run, if all of this civilian death allows them to recruit more effectively and ably inside Gaza.
Listen, we regularly condition our aid to allies based upon compliance with U.S. law and international law. And so I think it's very consistent with the ways in which we have dispensed aid, especially during wartime, to allies, for us to talk about making sure that the aid we give Ukraine or the aid we give Israel...
BASH: Yes. MURPHY: ... is used in accordance with human rights laws.
And that will be a conversation we will all be engaged in when we get back to Washington on Monday.
BASH: Well, President Biden said that he thinks it's an OK idea, but he also worries it could hinder diplomatic efforts to condition the aid, because you are going to have to deal with this.
This is something that is going to be on your plate to vote on quite soon.
MURPHY: Yes, obviously this will be a conversation we have when we return.
I guess I'm not sure what would be controversial about simply saying that aid we give any country has to be used in compliance with international law. And, yes, of course, I do think that Israel needs to be more careful in the way that it is conducting these operations.
I think that you can defeat Hamas without this level of civilian casualty. And so that's an appropriate discussion for us to have, in part because I really don't know that it serves Israel's strategic aims in the long run if Hamas ultimately is given this kind of bulletin board recruiting material.
BASH: You, before October 7, were pretty critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, the way he was conducting it with regard to the democracy inside Israel.
He knows that once this war ends, he's going to have to face questions over his failure to prevent October 7, among other things. Are you concerned that his precarious domestic political situation is an obstacle to the war ending as quickly as the U.S. wants it to?
MURPHY: Well, my sense is that, though the Israeli people may not be planning to have Netanyahu as their prime minister for the long run, they are still united in their belief that there has to be accountability.
And my hope is that, when they do go to the polls, that they choose leadership that is going to make good on the only future that guarantees the survival of a Jewish state in the Middle East. And that is a Palestinian state.
Benjamin Netanyahu believed that you could ignore the Palestinians, that you could try to squash their desires for a state, and, ultimately, that would bring peace to the region of Israel. That's just not the case. Ultimately, the next government is going to have to put us back on a path to have a Palestinian state.
That's not easy, but it is the only way forward for Israel. It is the only way forward for long-term peace. BASH: Senator, we have seen an alarming spike in antisemitism, hate
against Jews, across the United States, but particularly on college campuses.
You also sit on the Senate committee that deals with education. What's gone so wrong on America's college campuses that you have students openly applauding the terrorist killings of 1,200 or more civilians?
MURPHY: Yes, I have -- listen, I'm all for free speech on our campuses, but I have been very disappointed at the response of many of our University officials.
There's a direct line between some of the most vicious antisemitism speech happening on our campus and threats of violence to synagogues and to Jewish communities. I ultimately think we need to sort of think really hard about the way in which our young people are receiving information about this conflict.
We need to hold accountable the social media sites, in particular, TikTok, which is just full of virulent pro-Hamas and antisemitic material. The college campuses need to have a better means of accountability for this kind of hate speech.
But we also have to recognize that these young people are getting their information from somewhere, often from a Chinese-controlled social media platform that has in its interests trying to turn America against each other. And one of the means they may be doing that is trying to promote a lot of pretty hateful and divisive material about the conflict in Gaza.
BASH: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.
MURPHY: Thank you.
BASH: And the parents of an Israeli hostage on what it's been like, what it is like right now seeing women and children come back safely, and still, of course, hoping that their son does too.
Stay with us.
BASH: We have seen beautiful images of hostages reuniting in Israel with their families, but many more hostages are still in Gaza, and their families are begging people not to forget them,like Omer Neutra, a 22-year-old dual U.S.-Israeli citizen and a soldier who was taken hostage by Hamas October 7.
Here with me now are his parents, Orna and Ronen.
Thank you so much to both of you for being here.
Your son was not included in this initial release of hostages. I can't even imagine how difficult and complicated it is for you to watch hostages who have been released while you are waiting for news of your son.
ORNA NEUTRA, MOTHER OF HAMAS HOSTAGE: Right.
Yes, I mean, the first two releases gave us hope. And we're cautiously excited about the expected release today of more children and women, but Omer's not being released yet. And we have to continue and press for the men, not just the women and the children, for Omer, for all the American citizens and all the hostages.
It's not going to end before they're all out.
RONEN NEUTRA, FATHER OF HAMAS HOSTAGE: The process is very important.
O. NEUTRA: Yes.
R. NEUTRA: And we're thrilled that it's coming to fruition slowly.
BASH: National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told me that the U.S. does not know the condition or the whereabouts of your son or other American hostages.
What goes through your mind when you hear that?
R. NEUTRA: Well, obviously, we are worried. We're actually in Israel this week.
We wanted to meet officials and get reassurances that Israel is doing its best in the effort to return our son. We have been in discussions with the American administration and seeing all the efforts they're doing. It's a long process.
O. NEUTRA: But, obviously, the fact that they haven't been seen, that we don't know what the condition is, that the American Red Cross has not been permitted to go in, that's just wrong.
And that's against any kind of international law. And, obviously, it just makes it all even worse.
R. NEUTRA: It really is a humanitarian crisis.
And wounded people, sick people, they need to see care. And the right thing is just to get the Red Cross in and take care of whoever needs care.
BASH: You mentioned that you're in Israel and you have met with Israeli government officials.
Have you talked to them about the truce? Do you want them to maintain the truce as much as possible, continue the negotiations to bring the remaining hostages home, including your son?
O. NEUTRA: We have received reassurances that they will do anything that's needed to bring Omer home.
R. NEUTRA: And the other hostages.
O. NEUTRA: And other hostages.
R. NEUTRA: We saw commitment, whoever we talk to, that that's a key element in what's going on right now and they will do everything they can to bring all the hostages back, and we truly believe that's the case.
BASH: Tell us what Omer is like. What do you want people to know about him?
O. NEUTRA: So, one more thing that we have been doing here in Israel is meeting with a lot of Omer's friends.
And they have been sharing with us some of them actually saw him only a few days before all of this happened. He had a few days off. And his task was to look for an apartment to move into. But what he ended up doing was just going to visit friends, going to visit family. And that's so typical of Omer.
He's such a people person. And it obviously was more important to him to see to see people than to take care of his living arrangement. One of his friends told us how he told her, "Oh, I have to go and see an apartment." Then she convinced him to go and see the sunset on the beach instead.
O. NEUTRA: And they ended up talking about life. And, eerily enough, she told -- he told him about us, and she said that he even mentioned to her how he knows that, if anything happened to him, his parents would do anything for him.
And, obviously, hearing that was, like, a big responsibility on us.
R. NEUTRA: Yes.
O. NEUTRA: And, of course, we would do everything, we will do everything to get him back.
BASH: And you are. And you are.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and for sharing his story. And we were looking at pictures of his beautiful smile. I really appreciate you joining us.
O. NEUTRA: Thank you, Dana.
R. NEUTRA: Thank you.
BASH: And we will be right back.
BASH: If you want to help with humanitarian relief efforts for the civilians in Israel and Gaza, CNN is compiling verified resources.
Head to CNN.com/Impact. You will find a list of vetted organizations on the ground responding. That's CNN.com/Impact.
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. We're going to be right back here live at noon Eastern, as we follow the news out of Israel. I will speak with the family of two hostages released this weekend. That's live at noon Eastern.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next.