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Israel and Hamas Agree to Ceasefire; Possibility for Lasting Peace between Gaza and Israel Discussed; Americans Treated with New Antibody Possibly Recovering from Ebola Infection; Critics Question Khaled Meshaal's Control of Hamas

Aired August 5, 2014 - 07:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: They are maintaining what they call defensive positions. Here in Ashkelon, there were some sirens last night during the nighttime hours shortly before the ceasefire, but there has been nothing since then. In fact, some people -- this is a beach community, tourists have actually started going to the water. I talked to one woman this morning who says she hasn't been outside for days and hasn't been bringing her kids to the shore. They are now going down to the beach and trying to enjoy this day, what seems to be a real beautiful day here. Let's hope it holds.

I want to go Saima Mohsin who is standing by for us in Jerusalem. Saima, what are you seeing there?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Everyone is breathing a sigh of relief, really. This ceasefire seems to be the most promising one yet, and that is because both sides have agreed to it this time. The Palestinians first signed it off, speaking to the Egyptians acting as intermediaries. And then, of course, the Israelis say they will be sending a delegation if the 72-hour truce holds true to Cairo for talks.

And we are starting to see some kind of progression. And, of course, the Palestinians say that they have a delegation in Cairo waiting to talk as well. Of course, the delegation as far as the Palestinians are concerned will be a conglomerate, a group of all the different groups that represent the Gazans.

And all the while, of course, Anderson, this holds some kind of peace and respite for the people who have been trapped in shelters, almost 300,000 of them according to the U.N., who are finally able to get out of those shelters and get out of homes they are staying in, and survey the damage, huge neighborhoods and communities completely destroyed. Latest figures coming to us here in Jerusalem, about 1,165 killed in Gaza, 9,400 injured. And, of course, that number is just going to go up now that they are finally able to get out. What I'm being told is right now they are picking through the rubble and unable to simply bury their dead. Of course 64 soldiers, Israeli soldiers and three civilians killed in Israel. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, we heard from our John Vause last hour in Gaza City of people returning to find their homes completely destroyed in Gaza and, as you say, pulling the bodies of relatives, friend, family members who they haven't seen for days and had the time and safety trying to retrieve the bodies for a quick burial.

I want to bring in a guest that we have in Jerusalem, Mr. Gershon -- I'm sorry, Gershen Baskin, who is the CEO and founder of the Israel and Palestine Center for Research and Information. Gershon, I'm sorry, it's been a long night here. How confident are you about this ceasefire?

GERSHON BASKIN, CEO AND FOUNDER, ISRAEL/PALESTINE CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND INFORMATION: Well, it seems as was just said that it is holding so far. Hamas has made a commitment to the Egyptians on the ceasefire, and they claim that they agreed to it this time because they were consulted in the deal even though more or less it's the same deal they were offered three weeks ago when they were not consulted on it.

The Israel government has authorized the prime minister and the minister of defense to accept the ceasefire if it was being offered. But the real test is going to be in 72 hours from now when we enter into the political negotiations and determine whether or not the outcome of this war is going to produce anything that makes it worth it. War is a kind of diplomacy, a very bad kind of diplomacy, but its goal is to change geostrategic realities on the ground. And the real question is what will the changes be on ground when we're all finished with this?

COOPER: And the sides are so far apart on all of this. Israel talks about demilitarizing Gaza, which obviously for Hamas is something that seems to be a non-starter. And as far as the Palestinian factions, they want to see an end to the basic blockade. They want to see an end to the restrictions. They want to see an opening of borders between Israel and Gaza, also the border with Egypt. They want more freedom of movement. These sides seem so far apart.

BASKIN: They are quite far apart, but the war does create opportunities for Israel and its neighbors if they choose to identify them and move with them. There is an underlining of interest between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, the Saudis, even the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas, in terms of stabilization of the region and economic development and security. But all this requires political movement forward in terms of not only opening the blockade of Gaza but of actually ending the Israeli occupation and creating an independent Palestinian state.

After all these years of conflict there is a real opportunity to do that, and there seems to be, as I said, a meshing of interest between countries between the leaders. The question is will the leaders take the risks that are involved. They are certainly willing to take risks to go to war. The question is, are they willing to take the same risks as they go to peace?

COOPER: Do you see anything on the side of Benjamin Netanyahu, from his government, any real desire for a two-state solution?

BASKIN: There's a lot more talk amongst the experts, the analysts, the military people coming out of the war saying that we really have to move forward. There hasn't been any indication yet that Netanyahu has agreed to move in that direction. In fact, I think he's going to be pressured on the ground to move in the opposite direction. I've been listening to the radio all morning of people from the south of border who are returning to their homes and are quite angry that Hamas was not finished off, as they said, that Hamas still has the ability to fire rockets as it did in the very last moment before the ceasefire went into effect. So I think he's really being pushed with confronting issues.

The question now is also the extent of international pressure that's going to be put on Israel. We're going to see a whole series of war crimes accusations and international calls for embargoes of weapons to Israel and the kind of pressure that I don't think Israel has ever been under before as a result of this war. And that international pressure could also push Netanyahu to make some political moves towards a two-state solution.

COOPER: Gershon Baskin, appreciate you being on. I want to go back to Chris, Kate, and Michaela in New York.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Anderson, thanks so much. We'll get back to you shortly. Let's get a look at your other headlines with Michaela right now.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's do it. Good morning, everyone. Government forces are advancing on pro-Russian rebels bringing eastern Ukraine to the brink of assault. Ukrainian forces have warned civilians to leave the city of Donetsk as they close in on that rebel stronghold. "New York Times" is reporting Russia's building up its forces near the Ukrainian border, prompting concerns of a possible Russian intervention. Meanwhile, investigators are back at the flight 17 crash site today and they are searching for any remaining passenger remains and evidence.

It is primary day in four states, Washington, Missouri, Michigan, and Kansas. In Kansas President Barack Obama's distant cousin Milton Wolf is trying to upset longtime incumbent Senator Pat Roberts. In Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel has now officially challenged the results of the controversial Republican Senate runoff. He lost to Republican incumbent Thad Cochran. But McDaniel claims thousands of ineligible voters cast ballots and that Cochran supporters bought votes.

Theodore Wafer will be back on the witness stand today. He cried Monday as he testified about shooting are Renisha McBride on his front porch back in November. He told the court that he took a shotgun to answer the door because he thought his life was in danger. He said he did not want to become a victim in his own home. Wafer also testified that he pulled the trigger as a reflex action to defend himself.

All right, gamers, the Scrabble dictionary is expanding -- 5,000 new records will be included in the fifth edition of the games official dictionary when it goes on sale tomorrow. They won't be officially sanctioned until December 1st. Some of the new words have a decidedly social media feel, including hashtag, which will net 14 points if you're counting, and selfie, good for nine points. It's the first time Scrabble's dictionary has grown in almost 10 years. I've found some words for the three of us. Mixed-tape and beat-box.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Mixed-tape is one word?

PEREIRA: And for you, homey, bromance.

CUOMO: Ridonculous and Sharknado are both --

BOLDUAN: Not on the list.

PEREIRA: And my word is mojito.


CUOMO: Mojito with a "j."

BOLDUAN: Well played, Michaela. We'll have them waiting for you. That's good, that's fun. I think you would win a Scrabble game. I think you'd kill him.

CUOMO: That's the baby talking, crazy talk right there. Let's get it on.

BOLDUAN: Here we go.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, a missionary with Ebola returns to the United States and makes remarkable strides after taking an experimental drug. We're going to talk to a doctor skeptical about the so-called magic serum and get his take on what the next days and weeks could be like.

CUOMO: Guess who is here? One of Israel's biggest supporters. This man knows a thing or two about protecting citizens from terrorism. We have former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. He's joining us about peace prospects and also about our ability to handle Ebola and the unique mission he's now on that involves Africa. He'll tell us about it all next.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. New developments in the Ebola scare. Tests are under way to determine if a man with Ebola-like symptoms in New York City actually has the deadly virus. This as a second American is infected with the virus is set to arrive at this airport that you're looking at here in Maine in less than an hour before heading to Atlanta for more extensive treatment.

Nancy Writebol and another American, Dr. Kent Brantley, contracted Ebola in Liberia. They were both given an experimental drug never used before on humans called ZMapp, and both are said to be make progress since receiving the treatment.

Let's bring in Dr. Thomas Geisbert, a virologist at the University of Texas. He's been working with the National Institutes of Health to develop an Ebola vaccine. Doctor, thank you so much for coming in. This is absolutely your area of expertise. I want to ask you about the work that you've been doing in just a second, but, first, on this experimental serum, we're really just learning more and more about it. Dr. Sanjay Gupta brought us kind of the breaking details yesterday. What do you make of this? It was described by one doctor, to san Sanjay as an almost remarkable turnaround in Dr. Kent Brantley. What do make of it?

DR. THOMAS GEISBERT, VIROLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: I think it's very interesting. I think if it turns out the monclonal antibodies ended up causing the survival of these two patients it would be fantastic news. I'm cautiously optimistic. This particular outbreak is caused by the Zaire species of Ebola virus that has been associated with case fatality rates ranging anywhere from 60 percent to 90 percent. This particular outbreak has been on the lower end, at about 60 percent, so I think we just want to make sure that these two individuals aren't, you know, in that 40 percent that would have survived anyway.

BOLDUAN: And there is -- and you are -- and you are skeptical, would you say, that this would be such a miraculous turnaround in the doctor? Or do you think that there's potential that this really could be -- could be the fix, could be the cure for him, but maybe not for mass production?

GEISBERT: I think it could be. I think the treatment has a lot of potential. I just think right now we're talking about two patients -- and we really, as a scientist, we have to be very careful how we interpret the results, and I don't have access to all the data. I haven't seen all of the lab results. So I think right now we just, you know, need to be very cautious. I think the signs are encouraging, but I think, you know, we're still not outside of the window yet as far as, you know, having some complications -- or we're still at a point where anything can happen, so I think we just need to be very cautious at this point.

BOLDUAN: And that's an interesting point. The doctors that are working with Dr. Brantly as well as will be working with Nancy Writebol when she arrives in Atlanta, what will they be watching? What are they looking for in the coming days, let's say, as they -- after they have received this experimental serum? What is the key to if they are doing better or if they could be making a turn for the worse?

GEISBERT: Right. Sometimes with Ebola patients, you will have a situation where they appear to start to recover and then they take a turn for the worse. So, you know, some of the symptoms like fever, body aches and pains, you know, losing consciousness, things like that, they're just going to be monitoring them very carefully to make sure that there's really no relapse and that they continue to get better and better and not really take any turn for the worse.

BOLDUAN: And I want to get your take on this case that they're investigating here in New York City. They have a man who said he's traveled to West Africa recently. He was exhibiting some Ebola-like symptoms. that's why he went into the hospital and then they put him into quarantine. But even yesterday when the doctors same out, they said it's doubtful that he has Ebola.

What do you think that indicates, even though they are still waiting for confirmation tests to come back?

GEISBERT: I think it's highly unlikely that he has Ebola. I think that everybody is on full alert and that's a good thing. But I think that, as one of my mentors said to me years ago, common things are common. Ebola is a very rare disease, and I think it's more likely that something more common like malaria -- this is what we tend to see from this part of the world. I mean, it doesn't mean it couldn't be, and it's good that the public health officials are on full alert.

BOLDUAN: So looking forward, right now there is no cure, there is no vaccine in production for Ebola. But your group at the University of Texas received some $26 million grant in order to work with NIH to produce a vaccine and other medications. Where are you in your work? How are things coming along.

GEISBERT: We've made tremendous progress over the last five to ten years in developing treatments to protect laboratory animals against Ebola, and this is one component of the process to license a vaccine or a treatment.

So our particular grant that we receive from the NIH, really what we're looking at is what we think are three of the most promising treatments that in the laboratory, in our BSL4 laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, these three treatments have been able to completely protect non-human primates -- so this would be like rhesus or cynomolgus of monkey, which is the gold-standard animal model -- against Ebola. So these three treatments include a vaccine. This is a -- we call it VSV, it's -- the company behind is Profectus BioSciences. That would be used like you would use a rabies vaccine. And so actually it's a treatment.

BOLDUAN: How far -- how close do you think you are?

GEISBERT: That's just one of the three.

BOLDUAN: Oh yes. How close do you think you are?

GEISBERT: I think we're very close. I mean, one part -- the FDA has a process that any licensure would have to come under what we call the FDA Animal Rule, so I think as far as the animal studies go, we're just about there. The hurdle really has been on, you know, meeting the human side of the criteria, which is to conduct Phase One clinical trials and, you know, to show that the vaccines and treatments are safe and don't cause disease in normal healthy humans.

BOLDUAN: That obviously is the next big step and that Phase One clinical trial is very important. Dr. Thomas Geisbert, thank you so much for your time. Good luck with your work.

GEISBERT: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Of course. Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're following the cease-fire in the

Middle East. We're going to return to that story. We're going to talk with former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is one of Israel's biggest supporters. Does he think a lasting agreement can be reached?


PEREIRA: It's 23 minutes past the hour. Here's a look at your headlines.

Violence intensifying in Iraq. The country's prime minister has ordered his Air Force to help the Kurdish troops in their battle with Sunni extremists. It is the first time the Kurds and Iraqis have joined forces since the extremists captured the city of Mosul back in June. In the meantime, the director of Iraq's largest hydroelectric dam is says the dam is back in the hands of Kurdish forces after fending off an ISIS attack.

Search efforts continue this morning for survivors of a capsized ferry in Bangladesh. This is some amateur video we're going to show you of the ferry sinking. Hundreds were aboard as it sank while crossing the Padma River. The ferry was said to be overcrowded. The river was rough due to bad weather. At least two people were killed. No official word on the number of people still missing. Police say as many as 100 could have either swam to the shore or been rescued by local fishermen.

The U.S. government plans to close down three emergency shelters set up after a surge of unaccompanied children arrived from Central America. Those shelters are on military bases in California, Oklahoma, and Texas. Government officials say they've found less expensive housing and that fewer children are now crossing the border. It's believed that more than 62,000 children have illegally come into the United States over the past 10 months alone.

Toledo, let's talk about your water. Tap water is safe to drink once again, at least for now. The city restricted tap water use for two days due to toxins blamed on algae in Lake Erie. Scientists are warning though this could happen again. They say conditions in the lake are getting worse. The toxic algae is still growing and will probably peak sometime next month. In the meantime, the city is adding chlorine and carbon to clean up the water from the lake.

Think about it, when you think of all the people along the lake that make their living on the lake or because of the lake -- fishermen, resorts, et cetera -- essentially that business goes away. So it has an economic impact as well as just the water supply.

BOLDUAN: And it's just scary.

PEREIRA: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: They say this could happen again so is it really safe to drink it now? I mean, both my -- my grandmothers both live in Toledo. And so I'm -- CUOMO: They drinking the water?

BOLDUAN: I'm telling them not to.

PEREIRA: Well, they say that it's been decade in the making, too.

BOLDUAN: I don't care. My grandma is 102 years old. I'm not -- I don't want her getting illl.

CUOMO: Whatever she is doing is working.

BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly. She can probably drink anything.


CUOMO: I hope that's older file footage. Because that -- is that what the water looks like right now?

BOLDUAN: The bloom when it was really bad you could see it from space.

PEREIRA: You could see it from space. It was vibrant, vibrant green.

CUOMO: The whole seeing it from space thing is losing its luster for me.


CUOMO: I feel like our cameras are getting so good you can see everything.


PERREIRA: If you can see it from space it's not a good thing.

BOLDUAN: I look for something else to impress you with.

CUOMO: I'm very impressed.

Back to the big story of the morning. One of the big questions about whether or not there can be a cease-fire between Gaza and Israel that holds is whether Hamas can keep its end of the bargain. Now, this militant group is actually a few groups and often out of sync. Their leader is calling the shots from 1,000 miles outside the conflict.

Nic Robertson has more of his exclusive interview with that man. Take a look and a listen.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Gaza was being targeted by Israeli missiles, its prime minister was implying Gaza's top politician is out of touch.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: This guy, Khaled Meshaal, he's roaming around five-star hotel suites in the Gulf states having the time of his life.

ROBERTSON: Critics go further, accusing Meshaal of losing control of Hamas' military. Not so says the leader in an exclusive CNN interview in the Gulf state Qatar Saturday.

KHALED MESHAAL, LEADER OF HAMAS (via translator): This is not true. Hamas is a movement of institutions. It has respected leadership.

ROBERTSON: As Friday's short lived truce collapsed in bitter recriminations, the question again -- is Meshaal really in control?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And once again Hamas has broken commitments it made.

ROBERTSON: Meshaal's answer -- Hamas wasn't to blame. He says he never signed up to a tunnel targeting condition Israel attached to the truce.

MESHAAL (via translator): I refused this Israel position and we told that to Mr. Kerry.

ROBERTSON: So when both sides agree a new truce, question is can Meshaal deliver and keep Hamas' guns silent? In a similar confrontation in Gaza in 2008 and 2009, known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead, Meshaal was accused of being marginalized.

When I interviewed him in 2010, after that conflict, he denied any rift. Again, now, he insists he and Hamas are united, that U.S. officials know this.

MESHAAL (via translator): They know that Hamas is very credible in that, if its leadership promises something, it will fulfill its promises and the fighters on the ground will follow that.

ROBERTSON (on camera): What is clear is that it is in Meshaal's interests to show that Hamas is united. Any indication they are not shows weakness and undermines their demands.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


CUOMO: Our thanks for Nic for advancing the story. Let's take a quick break here on NEW DAY.

When we come bac,k former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, he knows about how to defend against terror. He knows about Israel. And he also understands what we can do about the threat of Ebola if it comes here from Africa. We're going to ask him about all of it straight ahead.

Also, what role should the U.S. play in Middle East peace? It's going to be more and more tricky. Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, he's on the defensive end. He's got a new message. What is he saying? We'll take it on in INSIDE POLITICS.