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Israel And Palestinians Negotiating In Cairo; Obama And Netanyahu Slam Hamas; CDC Issues "Level 1" Ebola Alert

Aired August 7, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The temporary cease-fire is running out, 72 hours, it was set for, 19 hours until it ends. It is holding, and Israel says it is willing to extend it, but the Palestinians are running into a familiar problem with different factions pushing different agendas. Most obvious, Hamas has not said it agrees to extend the peace.

Reza Sayah is live in Cairo with the latest -- Reza.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, critical hours ahead here in Cairo as these two sides set to resume talks according to a Palestinian official. The talks are set to start back up again at 1:00 p.m. local time. That's just in about 1 minute.

This Palestinian official sounding optimistic saying there has been some progress in these talks. When asked about the prospects of the cease-fire being extended beyond 8:00 a.m. Friday local time this official telling CNN that they are hoping for a longer term agreement beyond just a cease-fire, and that seems to be where the impasse is.

Over the past 24 hours, increasingly there are signs that the Israelis want to extend the cease-fire beyond Friday. However, at least some members of the Palestinian delegation is not on board, notably Hamas. Of course, they have been doing the fighting in Gaza. They have the most at stake.

Their position is they didn't stop fighting. They didn't come to Cairo to extend the cease-fire. They want to address some of their core demands which, of course, include the lifting of the blockades, the opening of the border, the release of some of the prisoners.

So all eyes on Cairo in the coming hours. Will they reach some sort of agreement which Hamas wants or will they extend cease-fire? A lot at stake here in the coming hours in Cairo. We'll see where things go -- Chris.

CUOMO: Reza, thank you very much -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much. Meantime, President Obama defended Israel yesterday slamming Hamas militants for their role in the conflict, this as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out for the first time since the cease-fire took effect.

Matthew Chance has that part of the story for us live from Jerusalem. So Matthew, the prime minister, he even brought out photographs and video in defense of Israel's operation in Gaza. What more are you learning?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Clearly, Kate, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, stung by that scathing international criticism about Israel's military action in the Gaza Strip.

He moved to defend the troop's action there laying the blame for the hundreds and nearly 2,000 people who were killed in that military action at the feet of the Palestinian militant group of Hamas, just like the U.S. president.



CHANCE: President Obama standing up for Israel. As nearly 2,000 Palestinians have now been killed in Gaza.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly when it is deliberately siting rocket launchers in population centers.

CHANCE: The president echoing points made by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The responsibility for this tragedy belongs with Hamas.

CHANCE: Netanyahu speaking for the first time since the 72-hour cease-fire. The prime minister says Hamas uses civilian deaths in Gaza as PR fodder, something the Palestinian militant group denies.

NETANYAHU: The tragedy of Gaza is that it is ruled by Hamas. They want civilian casualties.

CHANCE: He's pushing back against international criticism of how they waged war, accused of striking homes, schools and U.N. shelters.

NETANYAHU: Nearly everyone says that they are -- they support Israel's right to defend itself, but there are those who refuse to recognize or to let Israel exercise that right. They would allow Hamas to attack with impunity because they say they are firing from school or mosques or from hospitals, and Israel should not take action against them. That's obviously a mistake.

CHANCE: U.S. officials have criticized Israel's use of force, calling on it to investigate at least one incident in which a U.N. refuge was hit killing ten people. Netanyahu says not firing into Gaza would validate and legitimize the use of human shields by Hamas.


CHANCE: We're hearing, Kate, the emphasis now on extending that 72- hour truce to try and make sure even more people don't lose their lives. Back to you. BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Matthew Chance in Jerusalem for us. Matthew, thank you so much.

CUOMO: Just a moment ago, we spoke with chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat. Full of passion and promise, he identifies the clear devastation to so many in Gaza, but can he deliver the assurances Israel needs? Here's what he had to say.


CUOMO: Mr. Erekat, thank you for joining us.

SAEB EREKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: Let's begin with immediate peace. Israel says it will agree to extend the current cease-fire. Can you give any assurance that Hamas and the other Jihadi actors will agree to the same conditions and quiet their rockets?

EREKAT: Well, Chris, I can assure you that we have a unified delegation in Cairo now. As I'm talking to you now, there is an ongoing meeting between our delegation and Egyptians who had just finished meetings with the Israel until early hour this morning.

Our strategy there is to sustain the 72 hours hopefully end tomorrow morning, Friday morning, and then to extend the cease-fire, and fairly to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. These are the three parallel, the things we are working under.

We hope that the international community will provide what's needed for Gaza, immediate assistance for the disastrous situation in Gaza in terms of providing electricity, water, medical supplies, and shelter. There are more than half a million people who are homeless, roofless.

So, yes, everything is being exerted to have these three things in parallel, sustain, extend the cease-fire and alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians by opening the passages to Gaza.

CUOMO: Are you saying that Hamas has agreed to extend the cease-fire?

EREKAT: No, I'm saying that there no Hamas and no Jihad and no Fattah now. There is a Palestinian delegation, I'm speaking to you, Chris, now, they are meeting on this particular issue with the Egyptians.

And, yes, we have the full intention to find a formula that will enable us to continue with the cease-fire, to extend the cease-fire and to end the suffering for people in Gaza.

That's where we're going. That's where we're heading, extending the cease-fire is a major interest of us as Palestinians.

CUOMO: Obviously the pre-condition is peace and that's where the concern comes in about Hamas. What do you make of President Obama saying he has no sympathy of Hamas and the videos that are showing Hamas using civilian areas to launch rockets and the videos showing that the Israelis have not fired when they have been in civilian areas? What do you make of all of that?

EREKAT: Well, I don't want to go into the cycle. At the end of the day, Chris, there is not a single Israeli child who was killed or Israeli woman who was killed. There are 10,000 Palestinian women and children wounded, 2,000 killed, and I hope that nobody will justify these people's killing and murder and the destruction of a way of life in the total population of Gaza.

Now, what we want to do, once we sustain the cease-fire and begin elevating the suffering, we will speak to President Obama about the day after. We'll speak to Secretary Kerry about the day after. We know that this occupation that's been ongoing for the last 46 years has been the source of all evil in this region.

And we need to put an end to this occupation. We need to bring about a political station where the state of Palestine, Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem can live side by side with the state of Israel in peace, own the 1967 lines and that's what's needed.

Israel will not solve any problems by military means or by is settlements or by dictations. What we need the president of the United States to do and the Europeans and the Russians and the U.N. and the Arabs and everyone, to stand tall the day after and say there must be a Security Council resolution that will specify a time ceiling to end the Israeli occupation and then to bring Palestinians and Israelis in order to negotiate.

CUOMO: Isn't the case that the problem is so clear, and you outline it very well, Mr. Erekat, and thank you for that for our audience, but the source of the problem winds up becoming a fundamental part of the negotiation and the analysis, doesn't it?

Because allowing the blockade to be moved and the humanitarian help in and the volume that is necessary and all the things to fix the situation for so many innocent people in Gaza is all about Israel's feeling about safety.

And until you can control Hamas, which has not recognized Israel's right to exist, which has been using civilian population centers to fire rockets into Israel, don't you have to start there and show that you can control that threat for the peace process to move forward?

EREKAT: The Israeli occupation, Chris, began in 1967, and up until 1987 we didn't even have Hamas in Gaza, so 20 years of Israeli occupation, there was no pretext called Hamas in Gaza. Now I'm saying we need to work with the Israelis.

The only solution, the only way out for Palestinians and Israelis is going to be through a meaningful peace process that will end this Israeli occupation, provide for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to live side by side in peace in the state of Israel.

Now I represent the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is the Palestinian government. I recognize the state of Israel right to exist in peace and security in the 1967 lines. Can I hear an Israeli cabinet official or Israeli prime minister saying that they will recognize the state of Palestinian to live in peace side by side with Israel in the 1967 lines?

That's what's lacking. What we need is an Israeli government that will abandon the way of dictations, settlement activity, and move towards realizing that the only option for Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace and security is through ending the Israeli occupation, through establishing a Palestinian state to live side by side with the state of Israel and Hamas as a political party.

I have political parties who don't recognize the state of Palestine and don't recognize us as Palestinians, but that's not my business. I want the Israeli government and they should want the Palestinian government. We want the United States to recognize us as a government not parties. We are on board.

Once we have the signs of ending the occupation in the Palestinian State, we have already recognized the right of Israel to exist and we will abide and commit to one authority, one gun and the rule of law and that's the truth.

CUOMO: One last question and thank you, Mr. Erekat, for joining us. We know you have a lot of important work in front of you. Hamas is the one firing the rockets, not your government. That is why the focus is on them and their intentions.

When you say that day after, that day after from Israel's perspective will be the day after Hamas says Israel has a right to exist and that they stop arming themselves against Israel, but the question is this. Are you saying that there will be no extension of the cease-fire unless Israel agrees to remove the blockade now?

EREKAT: No, sir, I'm not saying that. I'm not saying that, Chris. I mean, look, there are people -- there are children dying in Gaza today because we don't have doctors to treat them. We don't have medical supplies to treat them. Are you going to hold these people hostages for Israel to dictate on us?

I'm saying what's the balance? What's the balance? We have U.N. agencies and USAID agencies and European agencies and many humanitarian agencies that are willing now to go to Gaza and alleviate the suffering. What I'm saying, I'm not conditioning anything.

I want to extinguish the fire. Before extinguishing the fire, I want to get the children out of the building. Extend the cease-fire and alleviate the suffering of those poor Palestinians who have suffered more than anything. Israel has no right to say I'm going to deny these people medical supplies, food supplies until they oblige us.

We need to save lives now, Chris, and that's my story and balance. I want to extend the cease-fire. I have no conditions, but at the same time Israel has no right to use food supplies, medical supplies against these women and children of Gaza.

CUOMO: Mr. Erekat, thank you very much for joining us. Hopefully the urgent needs of all the innocents -- (END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: What I was saying there is everybody recognizes the great need that's on the ground in Gaza right now.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Mr. Erekat is identifying that as the balance, helping them versus moving forward with war.

BOLDUAN: There is another because as much as in Gaza they are calling for the lift of the blockade Israel is calling for a demilitarization of Gaza, specifically Hamas putting down its arms. They say restrictions can be lifted, but not until Hamas agrees to putting down their weapons and not firing on Israel anymore.

So that's the balance and that's where the details in how they would reach an agreement is very complex, and just saying lift the blockade, it's not as simple as that.

CUOMO: Both have to move. Israel is saying we're letting things in right now, but not enough, not fast enough.


CUOMO: And on the other side this coalition, we don't know where Hamas is in that coalition.

BOLDUAN: I think it's interesting, and it will be in the coming day, to see what is the prevailing voice within the Palestinian factions that are sitting down at this negotiating table? Are they speaking with one voice or are there multiple voices at this point?

CUOMO: We'll stay with it. A lot of news this morning as well. Let's get right to Mich.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone. Here are your headlines. Bank of America and the Justice Department agreeing in principle to a record financial deal in a corporate fraud case. The bank will pay $16.5 billion to settle allegations related to the fraudulent marketing of mortgage-backed securities that helped trigger the economic crises. This deal includes $9 billion in penalties. The rest would go to help homeowners.

This morning Russia is explaining its ban on food imports from countries that have imposed economic sanctions including the U.S. and the European Union. This ban is in effect for one year. It includes supplies of beef, pork, fruit and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheeses and milk. It comes amid new fears that Russia might be preparing to invade Ukraine.

The FBI is now investigating how USIS, the contractor responsible for thousands of government background checks was hacked. Officials say personal information may have been stolen by the hackers who USIS believes worked for a foreign government. The Department of Homeland Security and Office of Personnel Management have stopped providing data to that contractor until the issue is cleared up.

Breaking overnight: two former senior surviving members of the Khmer Rouge regime have been found guilty of crimes against humanity by a U.N.-backed tribunal. These two men who are both in their 80s now have been sentenced to life in prison. Their lawyers, however, say they will appeal. The Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. At least 2 million people died under the regime's rule from execution, forced labor and starvation.

If you were around in the '70s, you would certainly remember what was going on in Cambodia at that time, and the terror that was caused.


Let's take a break.

Coming up next on NEW DAY: it's all hands on deck at the CDC, the highest alert issued in response to the Ebola crisis. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to go inside, taking us inside the CDC as they make the call to raise the alert levels.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, ISIS fires -- ISIS fighters are targeting Christians. ISIS has overtaken Iraq's largest Christian city. They are driving tens of thousands of people from their homes. Did you know this? Who will help?



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is important to remind ourselves this is not an airborne disease. This is one that can be controlled and contained very effectively if we use the right protocols.


BOLDUAN: That was President Obama addressing the deadly Ebola outbreak that has already taken the lives of more than 900 people. Liberia has now declared a state of emergency, and here in the United States, the CDC has now issued its highest alert level for the crisis, a level one.

Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is here with more on this.

Sanjay, what does a level one alert mean?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can sort of think of it as flooding the zone, if you will. There's a lot of different things the CDC is paying attention to at any given time, but they're just going to put much more of their resources on Ebola. So, bringing in more people but also higher level people, people focusing on all sorts of different things. We also know they are sending 50 folks over to West Africa, they're being deployed over the next several days, trying to bolster up some of the efforts over there as well.

BOLDUAN: Inside the CDC when they made their operations center, when they made this call to raise -- raise this alert level, clearly, this is very unusual. How unusual is this and what did you see inside?

GUPTA: It is pretty unusual. You know, you think of the CDC as a organization that is doing alive things but is always sort of on standby as well and can ramp up, if necessary.

Last time it happened was 2009 during H1N1, and before that was Hurricane Katrina. This isn't a common occurrence, where they go to level one. And we got an idea of what it look like and but also some of what's happening there right now. Take a look.


GUPTA (voice-over): This is the CDC's emergency operation center. Think of it as the nerve center of its response to the Ebola outbreak. Just a few minutes after I walked in, phones and BlackBerrys started buzzing everywhere.

(on camera): While we were here, the activation level just went up to level one, just in the last couple of minutes. What does that mean?

STEPHAN MONROE, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: What that means is just more people and more resources dedicated to the response.

GUPTA (voice-over): In that room, you could feel a quiet determination and a sense of urgency.

(on camera): What you're looking at is what the CDC looks at, a map of the world, trying to figure out what infectious diseases are happening and where they are happening. As you might imagine, a lot of focus on Ebola right now. They're tracking that as well real time. They have been doing it since March.

Take a look in here. This really jumped out of me. Mid-May, they thought things are basically under control and look what happens at the beginning of June. Everything takes off. This is on its way to becoming the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

(voice-over): Dr. Stephan Monroe is helping lead the CDC's Ebola response, not an easy task at all.

(on camera): Was there mistakes made? Is there a reason why this outbreak is worse than any other outbreak in history?

MOORE: The initial event, the lightning strike, if you will was right in this corner between three countries, in a very remote part of each one of those countries and so, it quickly spread across the borders.

GUPTA (voice-over): Here in the United States, different questions. For example, if Ebola is not airborne, why were there such extraordinary precautions taken for Dr. Kent Brantly and Ms. Writebol? It turns out it was more an abundance of caution rather than a necessity.

MONROE: We're pretty confident that any large hospital could handle an Ebola case if one were to show up at their doorstep, using traditional isolation rooms with negative pressure room and with traditional droplet and respiratory precautions.

GUPTA: And while I suit up in multiple layers while I was in Guinea earlier this year --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can be worn by health care workers when they come into contact with patients.

GUPTA: -- the CDC says a mask, goggle, face shield, protective gown and gloves can provide all the protection you need for most situations.


GUPTA: Just gives you an idea, you know, obviously, a lot of people practicing an abundance of caution and not surprising given how new this is to a lot of people. I should point. So, this happened at the CDC yesterday while we were there and also as you know, Kate, the world health organization has been meeting. By Friday, they may deem this also as what is known as a public health emergency of international concern and that could affect lots of different things, recommendations about airports, airlines, borders, things like that, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I was actually going to ask you that, about this alert level that has now been raised to its highest point. What does that mean for average person? Are they going to see anything different at the hospital or at airport? Are there any different procedures that folks are going to see?

GUPTA: No, not certainly at the airports. With regard to the hospitals, patients really won't notice a difference. But one of the things that happens is that they start to establish a consistency of care at all hospitals.

Most hospitals -- obviously most hospitals have never dealt with this so they have a lot of training and education that goes on which is important.

You remember a patient up in New York at Mt. Sinai, a lot of questions afterwards. Should he have been tested? It turns out he did not have any contact with sick people who had Ebola, so he wasn't really high risk. He was just somebody who was a traveler in that part of the world, had a fever when he came back and abdominal pain. A lot of people said at the CDC based on these protocols that were consistent, he wouldn't have been tested.

BOLDUAN: That's interesting.

And real quick, Sanjay. Any update on the confirmed Ebola cases, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly? GUPTA: Well, we heard from Ms. Writebol's son yesterday who said that, you know, he finally did get a chance to see her. It took sometime to get her as a doctor to settle into the isolation unit, assess her overall, her overall health. But he spent some time with her, said she was feeling tired but good. They are optimistic.

Same thing with Dr. Brantly. We haven't heard much more except he's been able to communicate with his family and doctors are still very optimistic about things.

BOLDUAN: The fact that they are optimistic, I think that says quite a lot at the stage you're dealing with such a deadly virus. Sanjay, thank you so much.

GUPTA: You got it.

BOLDUAN: I'm going to talk to you later in the show.

And also, a quick reminder to all of you, watch "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D.", weekends, right here on CNN, Saturday at 4:30 p.m., and Sundays at 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

Coming up on NEW DAY: for now, Israel and Hamas, they are talking -- not directly -- indirectly, and they are not fighting. But will they agree to prolong the peace? As President Obama weighs in with some strong word, our panel will debate.

Plus, Iraq's largest Christian enclave overrun by ISIS fighters. Tens of thousands of Christians fleeing for their lives. What can be done to help save them? A live report, coming up.