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Israel And Hamas At Odds Over Truce Extension; Obama Won't "Twiddle Thumbs"; Can "Clinton Dem" Win Kentucky?; Mideast Cease-Fire Talks Underway
Aired August 7, 2014 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
OSAMA HAMDAN, HAMAS SPOKESMAN: The second point, the Israelis are playing a game all the time. They say we want to do this, but they don't do it at the end. They said in 1922 we want peace. There was -- there was Oslo Agreement and it was expected to have a Palestinian state after five years, 1998. We are now in 2014. Until now there is no Palestinian state.
In fact, we are losing more land in West Bank by the settlers. We are losing Jerusalem. We are losing the Jordan Valley, and even Abu Mazen himself have nothing after the last nine months of negotiations. Mr. Kerry himself understands that the Israelis are not willing to have peace.
So we don't want to play that game. We want real guarantees that there will be that in a definite time and a definite and certain circumstances. This is supposed to happen. Israel cannot be treated as a spoiled child in the international community. If they want to be a state, they have to respect their responsibilities. They have to understand that they are occupying our lands, and they have to leave, and to withdraw from those lands.
Unless they did that, there will be a Palestinian resistance on all the levels -- political resistance, popular resistance, militant resistance, so what they have -- what they want to choose? To stop all that fight by the withdrawal and make an end for the occupation or do they want to continue the occupation and to continue the fight?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. Hamdan, what you have right now is the world watching, and that gives you an assurance of what is being promised in terms of immediate peace, and that is about tomorrow. Israel says it will not do anything military tomorrow if it's not fired upon. The expectation is that you will promise the same. And going forward in these negotiations, it will all be about good faith.
I want to end this interview, and hopefully we'll have many more as this process continues, but I want to give you a chance to clear something up that goes to good faith. Whether or not it is a game or not, there is a proposition that you have not denied yet, which I want to give you an opportunity to deny. It has become known as what's called the blood libel, which is where there's an ugly mythology going around about what Jews wanted to do with the blood of other people. You've been asked several times to disavow this notion, and you don't do it. Will you just build faith with people about the integrity of this process by saying blood libel is not something that you believe in.
HAMDAN: Well, I want to say that clearly, and we have said that all the time -- this was not said by Hamas. It was not said by the Palestinians. It was not said by the Arabs. It was said by the church. We don't say that, and don't have that in our culture.
HAMDAN: What we are saying clearly, that we don't have a problem with the Jews for their religion. In fact, we respect the religion. We respect Moses and we believe him like we believe in Muhammad.
CUOMO: So you deny blood libel.
HAMDAN: It's not a religious war. Excuse me, it's not a religious war. It's an occupation for our land.
CUOMO: I understand.
HAMDAN: Whoever will occupy our lands, we will fight him to be independent, to remove the occupation.
CUOMO: I understand.
HAMDAN: If they are using their religion against us, it's their problem.
CUOMO: I understand.
HAMDAN: We did not claim what --
CUOMO: But you have not said that you deny blood libel. Can you say those words? are you comfortable saying those words?
HAMDAN: Well, we didn't say that. We didn't say that.
CUOMO: Then you deny blood libel. You deny blood libel?
HAMDAN: Well, I am telling you, I did not initiate that initially.
CUOMO: I know, but I'm saying you don't --
HAMDAN: You can't ask me about it because it wasn't my words. Excuse me, it wasn't my words. It wasn't my belief. It wasn't our intention. We don't have part of that. We were not part of that. All of our history, we were not part of that. We didn't say that. We didn't claim that.
HAMDAN: Some others said that, some others claimed that, so we don't have anything with this. CUOMO: Okay.
HAMDAN: Is that clear?
CUOMO: It's more clear than it's been in the past, and it's an important point because you need the integrity of what is said about one another to have respect for the process going forward. That's why I asked.
HAMDAN: What we need now -- what we need now is a real position from the international community after the killing of 2,000 civilians in Gaza, including at least 20 percent of them children below 15 years old.
CUOMO: We all see the pictures and that's why we're all pushing -- we all see the pictures.
HAMDAN: We need a real condemnation for that. We need a real position from the international community to tell the Israelis to stop it.
CUOMO: Well --
HAMDAN: Enough is enough. You can't kill the people like this just because of --
CUOMO: The international community is watching.
HAMDAN: -- keeping (ph) the on the Palestinian lands.
CUOMO: The international community is watching. I understand the points that you're making, but we're also watching both sides and that is about testing what happens tomorrow. Whoever fires first tomorrow is acting in bad faith and exposing the Palestinians to more needless death and violence.
Mr. Hamdan, thank you very much for joining us.
HAMDAN: What I want to say just one sentence, if you don't mind.
HAMDAN: I hope that they can say one clear sentence, that they want to achieve an agreement before tomorrow morning. This will be a good sign from the Israeli side.
CUOMO: Well, that -- that would be a very ambitious proposal, but I think right now the goal should be for negotiations to continue and the violence to stop. Everybody wants to see peace. The question is what makes it happen.
Mr. Hamdan, thank you for joining us. I look forward to having you again. Take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, we're going to cover
the humanitarian crises overseas. There's also a crisis on our border. Don't forget, thousands of migrant children have been left in limbo. They are still there. Are they really our kids or just our problem?
Vice President Biden has something to say about it. We want you to hear it and judge it for yourself. It's making waves. It's on "Inside Politics."
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back. Once again let's get you straight to Washington to "Inside Politics" on NEW DAY with John King. Good morning, John.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Kate and Chris, good morning to you. Michaela as well. A busy day inside politics. Let's get right to it. With me to share their reporting and their insights this morning, Julie Pace of the "Associated Press" and Peter Hamby of CNN.
The president had a press conference yesterday at the end of this African Leader Summit. Much of it was about foreign policy. You asked about Ebola and he talked about Gaza and Israel and talked about how far is he willing to go if Congress won't pass immigration reform, if Congress won't pass any of his other priorities, how far is the president willing to go using executive powers before the election? Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I never have a green light. I'm bound by the constitution. I'm bound by separation of powers. There's some things we can't do, but I promise you the American people don't want me just standing around and twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Congress to get something done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So the question then is what? We're waiting to see how bold he'll be on immigration. Will he say give people who are undocumented? Will he try to say you have a legal right to stay? Some Republicans would cross the line.
He also talked about this interesting issue, this business issue of American corporations who are buying overseas companies so they can say now we're from London or here so they don't have to pay taxes. How far is the president going to go?
JULIE PACE, "THE ASSOCIATED PRESS": I think what's interesting about the inversion issue and this is actually something similar to what happened with immigration is that the Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said not too long ago that this was something that the administration didn't actually have much power to control.
Because it's really a tax policy issue and that's something in Congress' authority, but now over the last couple of days, we're starting to see both the president and Jack Lew saying maybe there are things we could do.
It sounds like what they can do is basically provide incentives that would make it more likely that companies would want to stay in the U.S. and would make it more unlikely that they would want to leave.
You're not going to see them be able to go nearly as far as Congress could go, but again that goes to the president's point. I can only do so much here, but I'm going to do what I can.
KING: To that point, Peter, whether it is the immigration issue, Republicans have criticized some environmental actions. We are waiting to see more climate change actions. We are waiting to see how far he'll go with immigration.
As the president talks about this politically, I'll do as much as I can, it's interesting. On the one hand, it shows that he's frustrated and wants to get something done. On the other hand, it also shows how limited he is in his abilities.
PETER HAMBY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He's said this going back to his, you know, earlier this year that he was going to do this and following through and telegraphing pretty clearly what he's going to do. I'm interested to see how it plays politically. Kind of a jump ball.
I mean, CNN had a poll a few weeks ago that showed about half the country thinks he's going too far with his executive actions, but if you break it down, another half of the country thinks that he's done about enough or that he hasn't gone far enough.
On immigration specifically, I think this is an issue, look, that could motivate both sides, but it really tends to favor Republicans. Conservatives seem to be a little more animated about immigration issues especially in the mid-term year.
KING: Grants legal status especially, but then we'll see what happens. That's when the impeachment word could come back up. We'll see on turnout as well.
Let's move on to one of the marquee Senate races this year is the Kentucky Senate race. Mitch McConnell is the Republican incumbent. He wants to be majority leader next year. He has a good challenge from Alison Lundergan Grimes, who had a tough Democratic campaigns for her.
Listen to Bill Clinton going back in time forgetting perhaps that we have a current Democratic president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: When people said that no Democrat could carry Kentucky in a general election, you voted for me twice, I appreciated that. You like -- you like have proven the experts wrong. When people said Hillary was a washed up candidate, you voted for her by 37 points, I appreciated that. Not that I was following the vote too close or anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Bill Clinton there re-stirring some of the bad blood of the 2008. The Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama primaries. That's interesting. Let's put Alison Grimes into context, too. She says she is going to be an independent voice.
That she is not going to follow the president's lead or the Democratic Party's lead. That she's an independent voice for Kentucky except this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D), SENATE CANDIDATE: One label though that I will proudly wear is that of a Clinton Democrat. I am a Clinton Democrat!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So we don't have any Bush Republicans, and I guess we don't have that many Obama Democrats, is that what we're learning here?
PACE: I think that's what we are learning here. I mean, this really is her own play here. She is a Democrat. She's running as a Democrat so she can't run away from that label completely. To the former president's point, he did win that state and his wife did beat Obama in the primary there. So there clearly is an appetite for Democrats, but just a certain type of Democrat in that state.
HAMBY: But Mitch McConnell's campaign was quick to point out that President Clinton after Obama launched these EPA regulations, which are pretty unpopular in Kentucky and have kind of hurt Grimes, President Clinton applauded those.
He did write a lengthy blog post on his foundation web sites splitting hairs about it and Clinton knows that it's unpopular, but this is Bill Clinton re-pricing his role in 2010.
I remember covering him in the last mid-term election. This has been the case with him the whole time. He goes places where Obama can't, places like Youngstown, Ohio, Hazard, Kentucky. Obama can't go there, Clinton will. And you can bet he's talking to local leaders and whoever, saying what are they saying about Hillary down here?
KING: I understand the loyalty to his wife. That's to be applauded. On the same point, he's been a second-term president. He knows what it's like to go to the sixth term mid-term where people start ignoring you and you would think he would have empathy, but he's joining the parade there.
One of the things to watch in that neighborhood and in nearby Tennessee, one of the Tea Party's last stance. They are trying to knock off Republican Senator Lamar Alexander. It looks like Lamar Alexander will survive that primary, but we'll watch those results tonight. Talk about it back here tomorrow morning. Immigration, we talked about what will the president do. We've been dealing with this border crisis, dividing the Democratic Party. The president early on said his priority was to send these kids back as soon as he could.
I want you to listen to Vice President Joe Biden here. He says it's wrong. They should not be coming to the country and entering illegally and he says put yourself in their shoes and he pays them a high compliment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Imagine the courage it takes. You're sitting there in a place where you're not in a particularly commode home or apartment or village that you live in and you gather the family and said I've got a good idea.
Gather up everything we have, sell it, give it to coyotes, and take us to a country that doesn't want us, drop us off in God knows where. We don't know anybody. Let's go, isn't that going to be a great idea?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I think you have to say in large part he's right. It takes a lot of courage to give up your life wherever you live to make that journey, but is a politician supposed to praise and hail the courage of people who are doing this in the middle of this debate?
PACE: I think what you saw Joe Biden doing is speaking to how complicated this issue is because we are talking about kids here who are leaving countries where there is really horrendous violence, where there's a lot of drug wars going on and they are making incredibly difficult journey to get to the United States.
At the same time, the policy of this administration has been to seek legal changes to laws that would make it easier for them to send these kids back to those same countries so you do wonder how the administration kind of rationalizes both those positions. We appreciate your courage and applaud it and yet at the same time we're trying to send you back.
HAMBY: Biden is a great lagging indicator of the zeitgeist in the Democratic Party right now. Because he's in the administration and can't really say exactly what he thinks, he's looking at Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley and Deval Patrick and other Democratic leaders and seeing where the energy is.
Remember Hillary Clinton said send them back and Martin O'Malley said take them and the Democratic base was with O'Malley and tonally you might hear Biden talk about that.
KING: We'll watch this debate play out this. As Peter knows and both parties is going to carry over to 2016. I suspect as well. As we close with this, Kate, Chris, get ready. Michaela, if you're there, get ready as well. Yesterday here in Washington, let me start with this. Michelle Obama lays down, listen to the end, the standard. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: We can't waste this spotlight. It is temporary, and life is short, and change is needed, and women are smarter than men.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Is Cuomo in the middle there, one-on-one or is he double-teamed here?
BOLDUAN: Doesn't matter because women are smarter so we always win.
KING: Yes, Mr. Cuomo, women are smarter than men?
CUOMO: I think the answer to the question is revealed in my agreement with what the first lady said.
CUOMO: I think that proof of who is smarter is going to be evidenced by my saying that I agree with the first lady.
BOLDUAN: Double negative.
CUOMO: I agree, John King and I'm sure you do as well.
KING: You tried to get a yes or no out of your chance. Let me give you a chance right here, women smarter than women? Yes.
CUOMO: I agree.
BOLDUAN: In three hours an answer to one of the questions we asked. That's a shocker.
CUOMO: They talk about unreasonable expectations. I'm hoping the reason both sides have been difficult to nail down is because they are negotiating as opposed to being fixed and in positions apart. That's the best hope at this part.
BOLDUAN: Sure, we'll see. Not allowing anybody in the room so the only thing we know is the public statements.
CUOMO: All right, let's take a break on NEW DAY. Israel says it has proof rockets were launched in its direction from near U.N. schools. So is there a double standard for Israel's right to self-defense? We'll take on the question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: The tragedy of Gaza is that it is ruled by Hamas, a tyrannical and fanatical group that relishes civilian casualties. They use them as PR fodder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: That is the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling a press conference entirely to make one point, which is that Israel's actions in Gaza were, quote, "justified and proportional." He spent a great deal of time trying to prove that Hamas uses civilians and civilian sites as a tactic. Did he make the case? Does it matter?
Let's discuss at the magic wall with Bobby Ghosh, managing editor of and former international editor of "Time." Bobby, thank you for being here. Lot to get through. This is the fundamental premise is yes, we're firing on the areas when we have to because Hamas is there. Here is their proof.
The first thing, this is a video of what appears to be, you can hear the voice of Israeli spokesman, Mark Regev there, that these are Hamas fighters and firing from there and it is a civilian area.
Then they put out another video which shows what appears to be gunfire coming from a hospital, and the spokesperson says this is gunfire from a hospital coming out at Israeli IDF defense people.
The last one is this, also similar to something on Indian TV of a rocket being set up in a civilian area. Listen to this one.
That reporter was talking about having a rocket gone off over his head while standing in a civilian area and they go back and show that it was there. Okay, there it is. All right, so he's reporting a rocket gets blasted off.
Now either you accept these as authentic, it's hard for the media to fake something like this, or not. Do you believe we can say yes, Hamas uses civilians as shields and fires from populated areas?
BOBBY GHOSH, MANAGING EDITOR, QUARTZ: I think the evidence here suggests that. The trouble, of course, is Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking to different audiences, many of whom have already made up their minds. In his domestic audience have no doubt and this will simply reinforce what they already believe.
In the United States, we've labeled Hamas terrorist organization, all show that a lot of Americans favor the Israeli position. This will reinforce that argument, Hamas are terrorists, firing at Israel from civilian areas and therefore Israel's response is justified, as Netanyahu has been trying to say.
In the court of international opinion, on the other hand, I'm not sure this is enough. I'm not sure this is enough because this has to compete with images of children being killed. This has to compete with images off U.N. shelters being struck by Israeli rockets not once, not twice but several.
CUOMO: Does it matter why fire is being drawn to the area?
GHOSH: It should matter but images are very powerful and the preponderance of images of children dead, dying, bleeding, maimed, those are very hard to get over, and yes, you can argue and you can show as much evidence as you like, but at the same time, the same Israeli prime minister is saying we don't want to go to the International Criminal Court.
We don't want international investigations. In the court of international opinion rightly or wrongly, probably wrongly, people will ask well, if you're so confident in your own evidence, why won't you go to the international court?
CUOMO: You think it's wrong for the U.N. to say Israel should investigate its own bombings of sensitive areas?
GHOSH: Israel has a history of going deep into sort of analyzing what happened and quite often putting, taking a hard look at itself, but again, this is politics. This is not simply a sort of tradition.
CUOMO: Hamas denies it. We just had Hamdan.
GHOSH: Hamas has been denying it for years. It's known they operate from civilian areas, that's his job to come on international television and deny things. He denied the blood libel thing, you have him on tape using that language.
CUOMO: Do you think that's progress that he backed off that?
GHOSH: I think it's some progress. It's worrisome he's claiming he didn't say it in the first place when you have tape of it.
CUOMO: He says we don't own it as an idea. Christians put it out there, not a Muslim or Palestinian idea. Maybe he's becoming temperate, but that really is contradicted by the next thing, equating Israel to the Nazis. What is that except calculated to be as inflammatory as possible and how is that consistent with wanting to make a peace deal?
GHOSH: All it is consistent is what Hamas rhetoric. They've said this a million times, they say this all the time in one-on-one conversations with journalists. It's preposterous to use. It's kind of turning your enemy experience against your enemy is the only way to think about it.
CUOMO: Do you think they fire rockets tomorrow?
GHOSH: I'm hoping not. I think the fact that they are in Egypt, the fact that the Palestinian authority is now speaking more forcefully and we hope not. This has lasted longer than any of the previous cease-fires. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and I'm sure most Palestinians are hoping this doesn't flare up again.
CUOMO: Because the political price is meaningless, it's what's going to happen to people in Gaza. Thank you, Bobby. We'll see what happens tomorrow together.
Let's take a break now on NEW DAY. We'll speak with the U.N. We were talking about them here. They've been implicated right or wrong as well. We have a special coordinator for the U.N. who is working to help broker a deal between Israel and Gaza, a bigger challenge than you may think. We'll take it down.