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Hala Gorani Tonight
World Health Organization: Global COVID Cases Decline for Fifth Straight Week; EU Rolls Out Digital COVID Certificates for Travel; Massive Fire Engulfs a Refinery South of Tehran; Deadline Approaches for Proposed New Israeli Government Coalition; Parents of Journalist Danny Fenster Plead for His Release; Twelve New Cases Reported in Guangzhou COVID-19 Cluster; Canadian Socialite Charged in Belize Officer's Death; Burning Cargo Ship Hits Bottom of Sea off Sri Lanka. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 02, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Hello, everyone, live from CNN London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Europe on the move again. Thanks to
vaccine passports. I'll speak to one European official behind the COVID certificate plan. Then make or break time in Israel. A new political era
could begin any moment, literally, with major implications for the whole region. And just in from Iran, a massive fire has broken out at a Tehran
refinery. What we know about this developing story, that is in a few minutes.
It feels like it's not often I get to say this, but I'm going to begin this hour with good news or at least optimistic news for parts of the world.
While there are still huge challenges, the overall number of COVID cases has fallen for the fifth week in a row.
COVID deaths are also down for a fourth straight week. With much of its population vaccinated, Europe is pushing to revive its crippled tourism
sector in time for Summer. It is rolling out digital COVID certificates with proof of either vaccinations, a negative test or recovery from an
infection. Seven countries are taking part so far. The plan is to roll it out from July 1st. Melissa Bell is in Paris and joins me now with more on
the plan. And Melissa, how it might change things for EU residents.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's going to make a massive change. Already, Hala, what we've seen in places like Paris here on the
Champs-Elysees is they reopened these last few days the cafes, the terraces, the museums, Paris already feeling a little bit more like itself.
All that is really missing now are the tourists.
There was first of all the central question for Europe, they had to fix what all this damage that have been done over the course of the last year
to the free movement of goods and people across the EU itself. That was also political effect. But beyond that, of course, all those countries,
especially those domestic pendants on tourism pushing all these months for the false putting in place of a system that will allow people to come and
go without quarantine space on their vaccination and nobility to prove it.
And that appears to be what is now changed. The certificate now online in seven countries, by July 1st, it will be all European countries. And what
it means, Hala, is not just the Europeans from across borders, but third party nationals also can with prove of vaccination be able now to get back
in and out of Europe for the first time in over a year, Hala.
GORANI: I can't imagine how much the tourism industry has been begging for a solution and how much it has suffered, especially in southern European
countries, France, which relies heavily as well on tourism revenue. What's been the reaction there?
BELL: Hala, you're talking about businesses that have been crippled nationally for the last six months, everything closed in terms of anything
opened for public. All of those businesses suffering of course, already from that catastrophic loss in revenue.
Add to that, how dependent Paris is on tourism. The most visited city in the world, Hala, it has cost it many billions of euros. And of course, I
think the speed with which the EU has actually managed to get this up and going, so in seven countries so far, back to life first for the others
really tells you how badly they needed it and how hard those countries were pushing finally to get this crucial tourists back.
GORANI: All right, Melissa Bell live on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, thanks very much. The EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders says free
movement between the EU states needs to be ensured so long as it's safe. He joins me now from Brussels with more. Thank you, Mr. Reynders, Commissioner
Reynders for joining us. First of all, logistically, how will this work for anyone watching us across the 27 states and beyond who might want to visit
the EU this Summer? How will it work?
DIDIER REYNDERS, COMMISSIONER, EU JUSTICE: But we have opened already the gateway, the EU level, so it's already possible to test the gateway for the
different member states. But from the first of July, it will be possible for each and everyone, EU citizen to ask a certificate, in new word,
Digital COVID Certificate in a digital form on the smartphone or on paper.
And it should be an obligation for the member states to show such a certificate and for all the member states to accept the certificate issued
by the orders. I mean, it's abiding instrument to the regular man, so it's a new law at the EU level.
And with such a certificate, it would be possible to travel everywhere in Europe, resolve any additional measures, except if we have a very high rate
GORANI: Right, so there's an emergency breaking system in case there's some big, for instance, flare up --
REYNDERS: Yes --
GORANI: And you will make a determination for third countries based on the situation in that country, correct?
REYNDERS: Yes, and to be very concrete, in Europe, in fact, we will use three types of certificates -- or you are -- as a recovery of the disease,
and so you have antibodies or you're vaccinated or you have a PCR or a rapid antigen test with a negative result. With that --
GORANI: OK --
REYNDERS: It's possible to travel from one to another member state, result any other kind of additional measures, again except if we have a very high
rate of infection in some places. But we need to think about the situation in July, so is more vaccinated people and a better sanitary situation. For
the third countries, of course, we are organizing a sort of a process, and to be concrete, if somebody wants to come from the U.S. to Europe, it's --
GORANI: Yes --
REYNDERS: Possible to travel --
GORANI: Yes --
REYNDERS: If the people are vaccinated. So, for the moment, we are using that, at the individual basis, if you have -- if you're vaccinated with a
vaccine authorized by the vaccine agency, it's possible to come to Europe with a proof of vaccination, and to receive in Europe a certificate, a
European certificate to travel in the entire Europe. So, it will be so possible from the 1st of July to do that.
GORANI: You're still taking risks, you can become infected despite two jabs, we've seen it. You mentioned a lateral flow test, those can be very
imprecise, sometimes provide false negatives. So, you're taking a risk here in the EU because I imagine, the tourism industry, especially in countries
that rely heavily on tourism revenue really need to get the economy going again. But this is -- you believe a calculated risk I imagine.
REYNDERS: Yes, of course, because it's not only for tourists, is all kind of travel, but it's true that we have a very important tourist sector in
Europe. But you need to see, not about the situation, no, at the beginning of June, you need to see at the situation at the beginning of July. So
GORANI: Right --
REYNDERS: It was more people vaccinated, maybe 70 percent of all the others in European Union would be vaccinated at the beginning of July. And
we'll have a better sanitary situation. We have seen and we have said at the beginning of the program, we have seen now a better situation than we
have today in Europe. So when we will stop with the certificate at the beginning of July, it will be possible to take such a risk. But the risk is
calculated because you spoke about the rapid antigen test, and we have more and more high quality rapid antigen test --
GORANI: Yes --
REYNDERS: And so, it would be possible to use that, and so, at the beginning of July.
GORANI: Well, some countries that consider the COVID passport as it's been called have dropped it. Even Israel, which is -- I believe still, the most
vaccinated country on earth, people who had the cure code on their phone were rarely asked for it, it was impractical in real life to keep showing
this. So, the U.K. considered briefly as well, a COVID passport, they also dropped it. Why do you think it will work for the EU and those other two
countries abandoned that -- this plan to roll this out.
REYNDERS: No, but in Europe, it's very important because it's to give a real possibility to exercise the free movement --
GORANI: Right --
REYNDERS: Of fundamental rights in Europe inside European Union. So, to travel from one member state to another one in the 27, so it's very
important for such a tool to prove that you are vaccinated or that you're - - had a recovery from the disease or again that you have a negative test.
And with that, it will be possible to exercise a fundamental right of the free movement. So it's very important. And we have test the system. So the
system is functioning because again, we have now a gateway at the EU level to verify that you record on paper or on your smartphone.
And we have a system(ph) that is possible for many member states to issue certificates already know. So, from the beginning of July, 27 member states
and of course, if it's possible to recognize the same kind of certificate from a third country, it would be easier if we have the same kind of
certificate in Japan or in the U.S., of course, we will use that. With all that, we will use the proof of vaccination.
GORANI: All right, well, there are many ways I guess to gain entry to the EU if you're a tourist within the EU and if you're a tourist coming from
other countries. Quick question before I let you go on Belarus and the sanctions that were announced. Do you think they will be enough to -- with
Alexander Lukashenko still as we've been reporting, harassing and jailing journalists. Does the EU need to do more or have they done enough to change
the behavior of the Belarusian regime?
REYNDERS: We continue to analyze the situation, if it's needed to take new sanctions, it will be possible. We have taken -- individual, but still on
the economic entities financing the regime. And about the -- so the situation with airlines companies. But we continue to work on it to put
pressure. But I must say that it's very important to have a sure good contact with some large partners like the U.S. to be sure that we are
together putting pressure on Belarus.
And at the end, we'll have a discussion of course, with Moscow because you know that we are to have an influence, it means it may be useful to see or
it's possible to do with the Russian president.
GORANI: All right, Didier Reynders, the EU Justice commissioner. I know for so many people who've suffered economically, the hope is that this
certificate system will work and for people who want to visit the EU as well and people I think are just ready to move on. So, let's hope that it
all goes smoothly.
REYNDERS: Too many people in Europe, well, we' will have such a certificate and a better sanitary situation, of course.
GORANI: Right, all right. Didier Reynders, thanks very much. Less than 3 hours left in counting, the clock is ticking fast toward the deadline for
Israeli opposition parties to finalize a new government and they could need every single last minute.
Some of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rivals are bitter rivals themselves with a deep ideological differences. You can call some of them
polar opposites in fact. Centrist Yair Lapid is tasked with bringing enough of them together to hold a majority of seats in parliament, 61 out of the
120-member Knesset or he will lose his mandate by midnight. So the clock is ticking.
Hadas Gold is live in Jerusalem with the very latest. And one of those who will join this coalition of course is Naftali Bennett whose right-wing
party has really almost nothing politically in common with Lapid's or with any of the other smaller parties would be joining this group. The one thing
they have in common is they want to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu. Will they pull it off by midnight?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, everybody is watching the clock now and waiting to see if they will be able to pull it off in the next few
hours, I think we have just around three hours left before that midnight deadline. And often, these negotiations, these coalition talks can go down
to the wire especially in recent years.
And it seems as though tonight is no different. We were being briefed by a source close to the negotiation earlier today, that significant progress --
process had been made overnight, and nearly everything was done, but clearly, not everything has been completed because the negotiations are
ongoing before we may hear from any sort of announcement before midnight.
But even if Yair Lapid manages to bring all of these parties together to sign these coalition agreements and then he can go to the president before
midnight and say he's got it, he's got a coalition government, the story is not over.
It is not the end of Netanyahu tonight even if they do manage to do this before the midnight deadline. It's because this still needs to go in front
of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament for a confidence vote. And that can be done within seven days, but seven days, Hala, can be an eternity in
Israeli politics and things could still change within those seven days.
Netanyahu and his allies might try to get some defectors to potentially not vote for this coalition, and only a handful of them, maybe even two could
cause this coalition to crumble. And of course, you can't ignore outside events that could happen.
We have a ceasefire with Hamas-led militants in Gaza. If something happens, that could affect these coalition talks as well. As it stands right now,
people here are just waiting. They're watching the clock, they're waiting to see if and when Yair Lapid will come forward and say whether or not he
has managed to pull together this coalition.
GORANI: Yes --
GOLD: If he fails to do so, then the Israeli president can send it to the Knesset, to the Israeli parliament to see if somebody there can try and
form a coalition. But that gives Netanyahu a life line to try and himself form a government.
Lapid can also try to do it as well, but the clock is ticking here, everybody is waiting to see if Lapid and Bennett will be able to pull this
off. And as you noted, it will be a very unique unity government with political parties from across the spectrum. They don't agree on much other
than wanting Netanyahu out. So, it will be interesting to see if they will be able to govern or really --
GORANI: Yes --
GOLD: Push forward policies on some of the really pressing issues facing this region right now. It may be a very fragile coalition, a very fragile
government to start, but if it does manage to be formed, it will be historic in just the fact of who is sitting together but also the fact that
they managed to oust the longest-serving Prime Minister of Israel.
GORANI: All right, we'll be talking a little bit later about this more, specifically about the Naftali Bennett-Yair Lapid alliance if it indeed is
successful. Thanks very much, Hadas Gold is live in Jerusalem. Still to come on the program, our exclusive interview with Paul Whelan; that
American imprisoned in Russia on spy charges that he denies.
The strong message he's got for the American President Joe Biden. Plus, more than a week after Belarus detained an activist on a diverted plane,
calls are growing for the authoritarian president to release political prisoners. Will he listen? We'll be right back.
GORANI: Look at that. Some just stunning images coming to us from Iran. There's a massive fire burning at a refinery south of Tehran. State news is
reporting that emergency units and firefighters have been deployed. The head of the refinery said they don't know if anyone has been injured yet.
The cause of the blaze is unknown at this point and will keep you updated on any developments as we get them. And also from Iran, one of the
country's largest Navy ships sank today in the Gulf of Oman after catching on fire. Rescue teams spent hours trying to save the vessel, no word yet on
how that fire started either. So, we'll be keeping our eye on both those stories out of Iran.
An American imprisoned in Russia is calling for a decisive action from U.S. President Joe Biden. Paul Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence for an
espionage charge that he vehemently denies. In an exclusive interview with CNN, Whelan said President Biden must quote, "aggressively discuss and
resolve the issue of U.S. citizens being detained for political purposes."
Mr. Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to meet later this month. In a few weeks, they're due to meet in Geneva. So, the question is
whether the Whelan imprisonment will come up. CNN's Matthew Chance had an opportunity to speak with him, and he's joining me now live from Moscow.
What did he tell you, Matthew?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, thanks very much. It really was a bit of extraordinary access because Paul Whelan
phoned actually our -- one of our producers in Washington from his labor camp in the Russian region of Moldova, which is a very remote part of
European Russia, not very close to where we are at all.
Where he says he works every day in what he describes as a prison sweat shop, making clothes, sewing clothes together. And he's now of course,
looking to President Biden in his upcoming summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to try and negotiate his release.
CHANCE (voice-over): For more than two years, Paul Whelan has languished in Russian jails, insisting he's an innocent Paul in a political game.
PAUL WHELAN, AMERICAN IMPRISONED IN RUSSIA: I want to tell the world that I'm a victim of political kidnap and ransom. There's obviously no
credibility to the situation.
CHANCE: Now, the former U.S. Marine has spoken to CNN from his remote Russian penal colony. Ahead of a much anticipated summit between the U.S.
and Russian president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if you could get a message to President Biden ahead of this meeting, what would it be?
WHELAN: Decisive action is needed immediately. The abduction of an American citizen cannot stand anywhere in the world. This is not an issue
of Russia against me. It's an issue of Russia against the United States. And the United States needs to answer this diplomacy situation and resolve
it quickly as possible. So, I would ask President Biden to aggressively discuss and resolve this issue with his Russian counterpart.
CHANCE: It was at this upscale hotel in Moscow in December 2018 where Whelan was detained by the Russian security services, the old KGB, and
accused of receiving a flash drive containing classified information. In a closed trial, he was sentenced to 16 years after being convicted of
espionage. A Trumped up charge he says intended to make him a valuable bargaining chip for the Kremlin, something Russian officials deny.
WHELAN: I's pretty simple. There was no crime, and there was no evidence. The secret trial was a sham. As I said, you know, the judge when I was
sentenced said I was being sent home. This was done purely for political motive, and it's really up to the government to sort out either an exchange
or some sort of a resolution. My hope is that it will be quick. It's been, you know, more than two years. I have not had a shower in two weeks. I
can't use a barber. I have to cut my own hair.
CHANCE: Ever since his arrest, there have been serious welfare concerns. The state of Russian prisons is poor. Now, Whelan tells CNN, he spends his
days sewing clothes in a prison factory, but that health issues especially during the COVID pandemic are a worry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, tell me, how are you doing? How are you feeling?
WHELAN: I'm doing OK. I've got some sort of illness right now, I call it a kennel cough, it kind of comes and goes. In the barracks, people have it,
get better then have it again. People getting medical care here is very difficult.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there concerns about COVID still where you are? I imagine the vaccine hasn't --
WHELAN: Yes, right --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reached you.
WHELAN: We have serious concerns about that. I just had one shot and I should have a second shot I think --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, wow --
WHELAN: In two weeks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK --
WHELAN: So, that's a step in the right direction.
CHANCE: A step in the right direction, perhaps. But for Paul Whelan, it may still be a long road home.
GORANI: And Matthew, that's been -- that was a fascinating by the way back and forth with CNN producer. But how did Paul Whelan managed to get a call
out from a forced labor camp. Is he allowed to call out whenever he wants?
CHANCE: Yes, I mean, he is. I mean, this is -- it's a labor camp, you're right, penal colony as they call them in Russia. It's what most prisons are
in this country where, you know, inmates have to, sort of undergo some kind of work, you know, to earn their keep, if you like. But there are telephone
privileges. They're intermittent, so, he's not able to call people, you know, whenever he wants.
He said my 15-minute window every now and again, perhaps even just once a week. And so, he uses that usually to stay in touch with his family. But on
this occasion, you know, he was, you know, kind of -- he decided to call us which was just good, so we get a real picture of what his life is like
inside that penal colony, and what his hopes are now for that Putin-Biden summit.
GORANI: Yes, all right, Matthew Chance, thanks very much. And as we mentioned, Putin-Biden will be meeting in Geneva in a few weeks after the
G7 summit which takes place in Cornwall next week. A Belarusian opposition activist has been moved out of the hospital and back to detention after
stabbing himself during a court hearing.
The aftermath of that moment was captured on video which I want to warn you is graphic. You can see Stepan Latypov being carried out of the building
with a wounded throat. He -- this is a self-inflicted wound. A human rights group says he tried to cut himself after authorities allegedly threatened
his family if he did not plead guilty. Let's get more from CNN's Fred Pleitgen live in Berlin. What's his condition, Fred?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly still isn't very good. I mean, one of the things that we have to keep in mind is
that after he stabbed himself in the neck yesterday during that hearing, you're absolutely right, the images of that are absolutely horrifying.
And one of the reasons for that is also, as it's customary and we see that on that video, the defendants in those trials were actually inside a cage.
And so it took the court workers a while to actually get to him and he seemed to be almost fainting, obviously, the longer that, that was going on
where he required surgery.
After that took place, he was moved to a hospital and just one day later, he's already back inside that detention facility. And Hala, one of the
reasons why he made that plea yesterday, why he said the things that he did to that court was because of the bad treatment that he received in exactly
such a detention facility in Belarus.
There's many stories inside that country about people who are detained being treated very badly. But he had been in jail since September, and
obviously had had a lot of issues there. And it was during that time he said that he was put under immense pressure.
The authorities there did not only tell him that they were going to go after his family. They also said that he would be put in cells with
hardened criminals and that they would go after him when he was in detention as well. We've obviously not gotten any answer from the
Belarusian authorities about those claims, but certainly, it's not something that we're hearing from the first time from the Belarusian
GORANI: Well, I mean, taking drastic actions, such extreme action just tells you how little he wants to be put in that environment. Again, and now
he's back in detention. Now as far as European countries and western countries, Boris Johnson had this to say about the kind of pressure that
NATO could exert on Belarus in order to try to get it to change its ways. Let's listen to Johnson, the Prime Minister of the U.K.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: I think if you look at what's happened recently with the appalling, outrageous incident of the --
of the hijacking over Belarus, I think NATO members will be wanting to stand together in protest against what happened, and to call for the
release of Roman Protasevich and indeed his girlfriend from captivity in Belarus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Johnson was hosting Jens Stoltenberg; the Secretary General of NATO. I wonder does that have any impact in Belarus, these types of
PLEITGEN: Well, I think at the moment at least very little. It all comes back to one main thing, and that's the fact that as long as Alexander
Lukashenko has the backing of Vladimir Putin, who is one of the few international leaders who still does back him, but he certainly does so in
a strong way, it doesn't look as though Alexander Lukashenko is going to budge very much. And that certainly also going to be a topic when President
Biden meets Vladimir Putin obviously in the coming days there in Geneva. That certainly is going to be something that's going to come up as well.
Nevertheless, I do think that it is important for NATO and for the European countries to show that they're standing together on this, that there's a
united front. I think it's also something that Jens Stoltenberg said, he said it was very important for countries that are members of NATO, but most
of them also members of the EU to have taken pretty drastic action pretty quickly. Like for instance banning Belavia; the Belarusian air carrier from
flying into EU territory.
But he also said that some of the other things that have already been announced need to be followed through on as well. He said, for instance,
sanctions against certain Belarusian entities, against certain persons as well. Travel bans into EU territory. Those are all things that Stoltenberg
certainly seems to believe are very important for the EU to show that it's not going to take something like an international flight being forced to
land by the Belarusian authorities, and that they will stand together and continue to exert pressure, Hala.
GORANI: All right, we'll see if they work. Sanctions aren't always effective as you well know. Thanks very much Fred Pleitgen. Now, here is a
British "Vogue" cover that I think women can all support. Malala Yousafzai; the Pakistani activist and girls education campaigner, she has been
unveiled as British "Vogue's" latest cover star. It's a lovely photograph.
The 23-year-old will feature in the magazine's July issue dressed in a stunning red outfit and head scarf, the world's youngest Nobel Peace Prize
winner told "Vogue" about her new ventures which includes a partnership with "Apple TV Plus" to make documentaries about girls education and
women's rights. And anyway, I'm just loving this cover. It's beautiful.
Still ahead, high anticipation in Israel as a midnight deadline nears, we'll update you on the race to finalize the government that would replace
Benjamin Netanyahu. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Back to our top stories, Israeli opposition parties are scrambling to meet a midnight deadline to finalize a new government. If that happens,
the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be replaced by ultra nationalist Naftali Bennett, seen her on the right, for the next two years.
After that, centrist Yair Lapid would reportedly take over.
There are so many ifs, though, the coalition likely need the support of an Islamist party. It's unclear whether he will join the government led by
Bennett, who said that a Palestinian state would be suicide for Israel. He said many other controversial things.
Our next guest says if a new coalition is formed, the key question is whether it can hold together. Daniel Levy is president of the U.S. Middle
East project. He served as senior adviser to former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak.
Thank you for joining us.
First of all, what is this a workable coalition when you have Bennett, Lapid, other smaller parties with nothing in common except their desire to
kick Benjamin Netanyahu out?
DANIEL LEVY, PRESIDENT, U.S. MIDDLE EAST PROJECT: Precisely. It's eight parties that would be part of this coalition, if it comes together. It's a
real hybrid mix from the very hard Right, right through to the soft center Left and the glue that is binding them together right now are getting
To what extent can that hold them together if they form a government. They have to pass through three phases to do that. Today, which is why the
intention is so intense, they have got to actually present an agreement. So first they have to reach the agreement.
Secondly, they have to pass a vote in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, that swears in this government. That may not be for another 12 days. That's
12 more days of intense pressure.
I was in contact with one of the party leaders. The pressure is really intense.
Thirdly, they have to be able to hold together if it happens. If Netanyahu can hold together the Likud Party, then he will be attempting to unseat
them every day to bring to the fore the internal disagreements and tensions within this coalition.
And he - it may be that he's out of the prime minister's office but that he could still make a comeback.
Why would Naftali Bennett in this deal get the first two years as prime minister?
He's an ultranationalist. He's much closer to Netanyahu politically than he is to Lapid. He said things like, to an Arab Knesset member.
GORANI: "When you were still swinging from trees, we had a Jewish state here."
He's against the two state solution. He said he would not relinquish one centimeter of occupied territory or Israeli territory.
Why would he get the first two years when his party got way fewer votes than Lapid's party?
LEVY: Right. The staggering thing is his party has now dropped -- he will only represent six members of a 120-seat parliament. But he's the crucial
swing guy because he's been going backward and forward even in the last weeks, flip-flopping between supporting Netanyahu or being willing -- being
willing to be prime minister of this alternative.
But as you point out, he's a man of the extreme hard right, has a track record of racist language, politics, policies.
So while Israelis are saying, this is a momentous occasion, finally removing the longest serving ever prime minister who is on trial after four
inconclusive elections, I think Palestinians look at this and shrug because this is extremely unlikely to herald positive change for them, for the
entrenched occupation and denial of freedom of rights under which they live.
And Naftali Bennett himself -- now this is a little bit PR -- but he's turned around and said, this government will live up to the right-wing
ideology more than previous government.
So important to remember those things even as we perhaps see the back of Netanyahu.
GORANI: As you mentioned, we're nowhere near the finish line here. We've been used to covering Israeli politics for the long haul. This is a
marathon and it still all could fail. There needs to be a vote of confidence in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, so 61 members of
parliament need to vote in favor of this government.
Do you think this will go through tonight before midnight local time?
LEVY: Well, that gives us a little over two hours. They are meeting right now. One of the interesting things that's happening is one of the Arab
parties as you mentioned might be part of this deal. It should be obvious that parties representing 20 percent of the citizenry inside Israel, the
Palestinian Arab citizens, should be legitimate partners.
That's not happened in past. That's something of a positive. But it's going down to the wire and here is a real indication. It's going down to the wire
because the hard right parties feel they can hold out for even more.
And the sticking points right now are the committee to select judges, which is crucial for this issue of the internal democracy -- and this is where
there are real differences because the hard right parties are against any kind of judicial activism.
And it comes down to a particular law, which has made it easy to demolish the homes of Palestinian Arab citizens of the state as part of the
structural discrimination that they face. So the next two hours will tell.
GORANI: Daniel Levy, thanks very much. I know you'll be watching. We all will. Thank you.
Right now, a U.S. journalist is languishing in one of the most notorious prisons in Myanmar. Danny Fenster is one of the latest U.S. citizens to be
detained abroad, hoping for his government's help. He was about to board a plane to reunite with his family when the military apprehended him. Anna
Coren has the story.
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A curious mind, with an empathetic heart driven by wanderlust, Danny Fenster knew that
journalism was his calling.
DANNY FENSTER, MANAGING EDITOR, FRONTIER MYANMAR: I thought it might be interesting to show the kids how I commute around Yangon.
COREN (voice-over): So when the opportunity arose to move to Myanmar and cover this complicated country in Southeast Asia, the Detroit native jumped
at it, eventually landing a position at the independent online news outlet Frontier Myanmar as the managing editor.
But when the military staged a coup on February 1st, sparking wide scale protests followed by a bloody crackdown, Danny and his colleagues soon
realized their profession made them a target.
BEN DUNANT, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, FRONTIER MYANMAR: There is no safe way of doing journalism. It is a job that you're doing inside a country at extreme
risk but it's an extremely one. And I think for a long time in Myanmar being a foreign national was seen as a protection.
COREN (voice-over): Not anymore.
FENSTER: I miss you so much. I can't wait to get home and see you.
COREN (voice-over): When 37-year-old Danny tried to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur then on to the United States just over a week ago, authorities
BUDDY FENSTER, DANNY FENSTER'S FATHER: Their efforts to squelch journalism it kills life and it kills freedom, it kills truth. And I think that they
just need to let him go immediately. He has not committed any crime there.
COREN (voice-over): He is the fourth foreign national among the more than 80 journalists who have been arrested since the coup began. Another U.S.
journalist, Nathan Maung, was also detained back in March when his offices were raided. A family friend of Nathan's told CNN that the editor-in-chief
of Kamayut Media was tortured for two weeks after his arrest.
The 44-year-old and his local producer were severely beaten around their heads, burnt on their stomach buttocks and thighs with cigarettes and made
to kneel on ice while their hands were handcuffed behind them during interrogations. The committee to protect journalist has describe the abuse
Both Danny and Nathan are being held in the notorious insane prison, a monument to brutality. Housing more than 10,000 prisoners of which hundreds
are political prisoners. The squalid conditions and acts of torture behind these gates are well documented from those who survived to tell their
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are many, many people in that who are going through hell right now and they have done nothing wrong.
COREN (voice-over): Owen, we are not using his real name due to safety concerns, was one of Danny's closest friends in Myanmar. He left the
country back in April as the crackdown against journalists escalated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The longer you stayed on the more risk you were taking of them one day coming into your own house and taking you away as well.
COREN (voice-over): According to the human rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, more 830 civilians have been killed in
Myanmar, also known as Burma, in the last four months. And more than 4,300 have been arrested. Danny's wife remains in Myanmar, while his family back
in Michigan worked tirelessly to keep his detention in the headlines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to miss you so much.
COREN (voice-over): Hoping and praying that the U.S. government can negotiate their son's release.
ROSE FENSTER, DANNY FENSTER'S MOTHER: It's a total nightmare. It's a total feeling have no control. It's heart wrenching and I just want my son home,
no matter what it takes.
COREN (voice-over): Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.
GORANI: Still to come tonight, outrage as president Bolsonaro approves Copa America plans in Brazil. A big event even though his country is still
crippled by COVID.
Plus a socialite with ties to a British billionaire is behind bars in Belize, charged with killing a police officer. That bizarre story ahead.
GORANI: Hong Kong's June 4th museum has temporarily closed amid an investigation into its operating license. The museum documents the 1989
massacre at the student-led pro democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
This comes days after organizers lost an appeal to allow a candlelight vigil commemorating the protest. You're seeing how authorities are dealing
with commemorations of that event.
Health officials in China say nearly all residents in two Guangzhou districts have been tested for coronavirus amid a growing cluster. Twelve
new locally transmitted cases were reported Wednesday, bringing the total to 54.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has listed China's Sinovac vaccine for emergency use for anyone over age 18. The move will allow the vaccine
to be included in COVAX, the global program providing vaccines mainly to poorer countries.
Brazil is stepping up to host football's Copa America 2021 is even though it's the throes still of the pandemic. Brazil's president is defending his
decision to welcome South America's largest football tournament.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I've said from the beginning about that pandemic, I regret the deaths but we have to live.
If everyone just stays in their homes and people in the countryside stay home, I would like to see what city dwellers would survive on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: The event is moving from Brazil from Argentina and Colombia. You're looking at one explanation for why that might draw criticism. Brazil
is way above both of the countries that the tournament moved from in terms of numbers in real terms.
The total number of daily deaths are still averaging in thousands now. We're talking about deaths every day, not cases.
Now this story, a Canadian socialite has been charged in the shooting death of a police officer in Belize. She's the long-time partner of Andrew
Ashcroft, the son of British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft. CNN's Paula Newton has the story.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police Superintendent Henry Jemmott was a father of five and a law enforcement veteran. His friends and
family say they are stunned by his sudden death and equally shocked that a police officer could die this way.
Jemmott's sister, Marie Tzul, holds on tight to family members during an interview with CNN from Belize. She tells me none of the circumstances
makes any sense to her.
MARIE TZUL, HENRY JEMMOTT'S SISTER: My family right now is really hurt. We are missing our brother. His children is missing him. We are devastated.
Really devastated by this.
NEWTON: Police in the Central American country confirmed Jemmott did not die in the line of duty but instead in what they describe as an incident.
The details disclosed, that Jemmott and a woman were drinking alone on the pier and both were fully clothed.
Details beyond that are scant. Police in Belize say they have charged Canadian socialite Jasmine Hartin, seen here, being transported while in
custody. Hartin's lawyer says his client is cooperating.
GODFREY SMITH, ATTORNEY: The charges, manslaughter are negligence. Bail has been denied. We appeal to the supreme court, as is normal.
NEWTON: What is not normal, says Jemmott's family, are the details as outlined by police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police found the female on the pier. She had what appeared to be blood on her arms and on her clothing. And inside the waters
right near the pier, police recovered the lifeless body of Mr. Jemmott, with one apparent gunshot wound behind the right ear.
NEWTON: Police say Hartin, covered in blood, was in an emotional state when they first arrived but will not disclose what she told them, if
Jemmott's family says they want to know more from Hartin, the long- time partner of Andrew Ashcroft, the son of British billionaire Lord Michael
Ashcroft. Hartin and the Ashcrofts have been fixtures in Belize for years. Jemmott's family says their brother knew Hartin and the Ashcrofts. The
details of how he died, though, they say, do not point to an accidental death.
TZUL: What we don't know why they did not charge her for murder.
TZUL: They should have taken that to court, murder. Let that play out in the court and the court will decide.
NEWTON: Police say they continue to investigate, underscoring he was also their beloved friend and colleague. And Jemmott's family says they want
answers on the devastating loss of a father, brother and devoted police veteran who police indicate may have been killed by a bullet from his own
service weapon -- Paula Newton, CNN.
GORANI: So many questions still surrounding that story.
Still to come tonight, could this beautiful shoreline soon be drenched in toxic chemicals?
The latest in the struggle the clear this damaged cargo ship off the coast of Sri Lanka. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Welcome back.
Officials in Sri Lanka are saying the attempt to tow a burning container ship has failed after the vessel touched bottom. Plastic from the ship has
already been causing tons of problems, as it washes up on shore.
But the country is racing for an even greater disaster because the ship is loaded with oil and chemicals. So it could get a whole lot worse. Will
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soaring above the Sri Lankan coast, a view that takes your breath away until you go lower, get closer
and find a scene that breaks your heart, beautiful beaches, blanketed with pea-sized plastic pellets.
Melted down, they make everything from pipelines to plastic bottles. They also kill all kinds of marine animals, as deadly as they are tiny.
Environmentalists say this cargo ship was carrying billions of those plastic pellets, hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals, nitric acid, sodium
hydroxide and oil that could leak at any time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe this will be a major disaster, which we have never had seen in the last 100 or 200 years.
RIPLEY (voice-over): A disaster that began with a bang. An explosion two weeks ago sparked a fire, burning ever since. The ship sinking to the
bottom of the Indian Ocean, along with hundreds of shipping containers. Their contents have the potential to poison our planet for decades to come.
RIPLEY: You have so many ships passing near Sri Lanka.
RIPLEY: Sri Lanka has a contingency plan for oil but not for the plastic micropellets and the hazardous chemicals.
MUDITHA KATUWAWALA, THE PEARL PROTECTORS: We don't have the chemicals. We don't have (INAUDIBLE). We don't have for plastic. We don't have enough
firefighting equipment and firefighting vessels.
RIPLEY (voice-over): What Sri Lanka does have, a front row seat to an environmental catastrophe.
RIPLEY: What is the most pressing urgent need right now?
HEMANTHA WITHANAGE, CENTRE OF ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: I think it's cleaning the mess is the most important. The (INAUDIBLE) -- the compensation is not
going to help us everything.
RIPLEY (voice-over): A man-made disaster, some are even compared to the devastating 2004 tsunami.
KATUWAWALA: I think the long term impact of this is one of the main things. Tsunami was where the water came in on land and there was a lot of
deaths. And there was a lot of casualty on land.
A disaster like is completely out of our hand because this is really polluting, destroying the ocean, the marine life and Sri Lankans are so
dependent on the marine. We are an island.
RIPLEY (voice-over): The island and its people devastated.
JOSHUA ANTHONY, JA-ELA FISHERIES SOCIETY (through translator): The ship has dealt a death blow to our lives. We can't go to the sea which means we
can't make a living.
RIPLEY (voice-over): A death blow to their livelihoods and to the animals who call this poisoned piece of ocean their home -- Will Ripley, CNN,
GORANI: Let's hope it doesn't get to that horrible -- that that situation doesn't unfold or materialize.
Before we leave you tonight, some headlines from the animal kingdom. In China a group of elephants is causing a stir as they move ever closer
toward a densely populated city.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI (voice-over): These 15 elephants have been on a 500 kilometer journey since strained (ph) from their national habitat. No one is sure why
they are on the move. Many are fascinated with the herd.
But the animals have caused a lot of damage along the way. They have eaten entire fields of corn. They have smashed up some barns. They are doing some
damage on the road.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: We had to show you this unbelievable video. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI (voice-over): California teen took on massive bear in order to protect her dogs in her backyard. Watch it again in slow motion. What a
shove. She said she came away pretty much unscathed. It is brave but not advisable to do this.
The bear was protecting her cubs. The teen was protecting her kids as well, her little canine kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS is next.