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Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Continues; Interview with Mark Regev; U.S. Continues Air Strikes against ISIS Targets in Iraq; White House Announces Plans for Military Engagement in Iraq; Thrill Ride Gone Wrong; Growing Outrage on Streets of A St. Louis Suburb; Rory McIlroy Wins 4th Major
Aired August 11, 2014 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me to discuss is Mark Regev, spokesperson for Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Regev, it's great to see you. Thanks for coming in.
MARK REGEV, SPOKESMAN, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Good morning.
BOLDUAN: Good morning. So all reports that we have on the ground is that the ceasefire is holding. I want to get that from you as well. Is it holding strong?
REGEVE: That's correct. It started last night, midnight local time. So it's 14 hours that that ceasefire is holding. And that's a good thing. We actually didn't want to see the violence. We accepted I think nine ceasefires. We accepted them. We honored them. And Hamas either rejected or violated those ceasefires, including the last one. We hope this one sticks.
BOLDUAN: I think everyone does who is watching this process play out. So the Israeli delegation is back in Cairo today to begin those talks anew. What from your view is different this time around, in this 72 hours as the talks commence?
REGEV: The truth is for us it's the same. We were ready for a ceasefire on July 15th. That's 30 days ago. We were ready for a ceasefire then. Unfortunately Hamas said no. We're ready for a ceasefire now. The Egyptian process says ceasefire and talk about the problems in Gaza. We were ready for that then and we're ready for that now.
We hope it's possible to keep the ceasefire ongoing, not to return to violence and to solve the issues in Cairo through these indirect talks. For us the most important issue is to prevent Hamas from rearming because if Hamas can rearm, get more rockets and more terror tunnels and so forth, we'll be back to square one very quickly, and then we'll have to very visit this in six months or a year. That's not good for anyone, not for Israel or for Gaza.
And the other issue in longer term which Secretary Kerry has spoken about is, can we demilitarize the Gaza Strip? That would be to the amazing benefit of the people of Gaza and for the people of Israel. BOLDUAN: Hearing you say the for Israel things are the same going
into this round of talks, I'm not sure that should be concerning or not. Here's why, because the leader of the Palestinian delegation and the officials with Hamas, they say the same as well. They say going into this round, it's the same for them as well. I'm trying to figure out what you think is going to break the logjam, because they say that they need the economic blockade in Gaza lifted. How far is Israel prepared to go?
REGEV: We are willing to ease the restrictions on Gaza because the restrictions were only put there in the first place because of the security threat, because they were firing rockets at our people. If that stops, if you have a cessation of all rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, if you have a cessation of the terror tunnels with the death squads coming out of them trying to kill our people, if all aggression from Gaza stops, if the terrorist attacks stop, of course we're happy to engage on easing the sanctions. They're only there as a response to the violence in the first place.
BOLDUAN: What is going to break the logjam? Be candid with me right now. You're going in. You're saying Israel is in the same position. We're hearing it from the Palestinian delegation, they're in the same position. What is going to break this logjam, because I'm concerned what's going to happen when this 72-hour ceasefire expires?
REGEV: Also we're concerned what happens at the end of this 72 hours. We're also concerned of what happened just a few days ago where they violated a ceasefire that they accepted. But I think the key to understanding progress is the issue of nonviolence. I believe if the Palestinians, if Hamas ceases violence, ceases to target Israeli civilians, then everything is possible.
But on the other hand, they can't shoot rockets as Israel trying to kill our people and at the same time demand that we have a normal relationship. Sorry, that doesn't work. If they want to move forward to a normal relationship, and we're ready to have a much more normal relationship, it has to be built on nonviolence. And that's a commitment that Hamas has yet been ready to do. I hope they will accept it.
BOLDUAN: Do you think a deal on some of these key issues, the blockade, the concern of former Israelis, the security concerns on the part of Israel, can this be figured out and agreed to within the 72- hour ceasefire, or is your immediate goal to try to figure out how to get to a longer term ceasefire and then work out these details?
REGEV: We think -- obviously the issues on the table are complex, and you're not going to solve them in one day or two. But if we get a commitment of ongoing nonviolence, that gives you a sustained period to deal with all these issues.
And I want to stress, the people of Gaza are not our enemies. And if it's possible on the basis of nonviolence to build a better relationship, a more cooperative relationship, Israel will be a partner in that effort. But we don't want to see a situation where violence is rewarded. We don't want to see a situation where funds now going to help the people of Gaza end up helping Hamas rebuild its military machine. So we see nonviolence and demilitarization as the keys as we move forward now.
BOLDUAN: Is this the new normal, 72-hour ceasefires, trying to have talks, they break down, the rockets start firing again? People are starting to see a pattern here. It's a very troubling pattern.
REGEV: I agree with you 100 percent, and I hope it's not the new normal. We won't accept it as the norm. You can't have every time you have a problem in talks that Hamas starts firing rockets.
BOLDUAN: With Israel's delegation leaving the talks, Hamas and the Palestinian delegation, they saw that, is Israel backing out?
REGEV: No. Let's be fair. The talks in Egypt are based on the premise of nonviolence. That's what the Egyptian initiative said. It said unconditional cessation of fire and meet in Cairo to discuss. The minute they broke the foundation, which was they started shooting, so there was no basis for talks. If nonviolence is maintained, if they don't shoot at our people, then these talks can be ongoing and we're ready to deal with these issues seriously. But once again, the basis is nonviolence.
BOLDUAN: Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Thank you very much. It's great to see you.
REGEV: Thanks for having me.
BOLDUAN: Chris, over to you.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, now to Iraq. The prime minister is Nouri al Maliki. There's growing pressure for him to step down. His response is a window into the problem. He has surrounded the city with tanks and fires loyal to him. Making it worse, they're positioned around Baghdad's Green Zone. That's where the U.S. embassy is, so some American staffers have been evacuated. That's not easy to do. And remember, this is all going on as the real problem supposedly up north and the U.S. is using air strikes to try to pound ISIS there and protect at least the city of Erbil. CNN's Anna Coren is live in Erbil, Iraq. Anna, what's the situation?
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, it's an absolute mess certainly politically, while Kurdish and Iraqi forces try to fight these ISIS militants. As you mentioned, president Nouri al Maliki has accused the newly elected president of breaching the constitution. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told Maliki not to cause any trouble. But it would appear that warning is falling on deaf ears.
COREN: Defending his position in office, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki ordering the surge of troops and security forces into Baghdad overnight. The special forces loyal to him strategically occupy key neighborhoods and secure areas in the green zone where many government buildings are located, including the largest U.S. embassy. The prime minister also delivering a fiery message to the Iraqi people, making clear his intentions to forge ahead for a third term bid despite plans to replace him.
Maliki's resistance comes as the country is in turmoil, battling the presence of ISIS militants. The U.S. executing five rounds of air strikes on ISIS on Sunday, hitting all targets within the space of a few hours. To south of Erbil, Kurdish forces claim victory, taking back two towns overrun by ISIS.
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: American aircraft are positioned to strike ISIL terrorists around the mountain to help forces in Iraq break the siege and rescue those who are trapped there.
COREN: Nearly 20,000 stranded Yazidi Iraqis were rescued from Mount Sinjar and taken to safety just over the Syrian-Iraqi border. Thousands got on trucks with the help of Kurdish forces. The minority groups targeted by ISIS went to this mountain to seek refuge but instead are suffering. According to an Iraqi official, hundreds are dying on the hillside from starvation and dehydration. Now U.S. officials confirm four successful air drops bringing more than 74,000 meals and 15,000 gallons of water to those in desperate need.
Iraqi's Christian population also facing grave danger as ISIS issues the terrifying ultimatum, convert or die.
COREN: And Chris, it's important to remember that these ISIS militants now control one-third of Iraqi territory. It really is quite frightening. And they're certainly instilling fear amongst the population here because of their brutal tactics, the slaughter of innocent civilians, the executions that we have been seeing of people who do not adhere to their extreme form of Islam, Chris.
CUOMO: And perversely, their viciousness is a good recruiting tool, which is just as sad as anything else. The speed at which they are taking ground is what makes the idea of air strikes not enough. Obviously U.S. has to ramp them up. But on the ground, what are you seeing with the Kurdish fighters who are the main resistance, and are they keeping the people safe on that mountaintop?
COREN: Look, I think it's really important to know that those U.S. air strikes are extremely effective because they are allowing the Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga, to get in and reclaim some of those towns lost to ISIS militants last week. But as for Mount Sinjar where that humanitarian crisis is unfolding, the Kurdish forces have managed to create a safe passage for some 20,000 of the Yazidis, that religious and ethnic minority who were going to be slaughtered by ISIS militants if they didn't flee their town. So 20,000 have managed to get off the mountain, but there are some, up to 30,000, 40,000 still trapped. That is what we are hearing from aid groups.
So the humanitarian aid drops that the United States and Britain are conducting are essential. They're providing food, they're providing water, they are providing medicine. But we are hearing from U.S. officials, Chris, that it could be days if not weeks before they can set up a corridor through the Kurdish forces with the cover from the U.S. air strikes to get the rest of those refugees off that mountaintop to safety.
CUOMO: And I know a big concern you're hearing on the ground, although put crudely, you're giving them food, but are you just fattening up these people for slaughter, because if they're not protected or given a way out, it is going to be a really, really desperate situation, and it's coming soon. Anna, thank you very much. We know you're in a dangerous situation. Be safe and let us know what happens next.
Now, whether you're looking at the situation of how to stop ISIS or how to keep this country together, because that is a huge and pressing situation, what's going on involving the prime minister and any governmental switch, comes down to the White House. Let's get to CNN's Jim Acosta live in Martha's Vineyard. That's where the president is on vacation, but obviously this will be a working vacation. What's the strategy?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, the president is getting regular updates from his national security team on the situation in Iraq. As Anna and everybody have been mentioning this morning, the U.S. of course conducted more air strikes on those ISIS targets over the weekend. And the military released some pretty dramatic footage as we've all seen of the humanitarian air drops to the Yazidis taking refuge on Mount Sinjar.
And you're right, the Obama administration, Chris, is keeping a close eye on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki who appears to be clinging to power in Baghdad. The U.S. is making it very clear that they want to see a new prime minister who can really unify the Iraqi people. That's been one condition set by the president for U.S. military support in Iraq.
Also keep in mind the president caught some people in Washington off guard over the weekend when he said this could be a long-term effort in Iraq. But I talked to a White House official over the weekend who said that was no slip of the tongue, that the president wants the public, the American people to understand this is a long term effort. This won't be a quick in-and-out mission in Iraq.
Also the second-guessing in Washington is heating up pretty dramatically when it comes to the president's policy. Hillary Clinton told "The Atlantic" magazine that the failure to arm the Syrian rebels in that civil war may have contributed to the problem with ISIS. But I talked to a White House official over the weekend who said they were not that fazed by Hillary Clinton's comments, saying that she's been talking about arming the Syrian rebels for some time. They say that is not a new development. Chris?
CUOMO: All right, so I know they don't like the term "mission creep" because it smacks of the former wars and things getting out of control, but things have to go better in that situation. It's going to involve more, not just duration, but intensity and means. So, yes, what is the time frame, Jim, but what are they also expecting to do more of? ACOSTA: I think, Chris, administration officials have made it pretty
clear we're going to see more air strikes. And right now the mission is limited to those ISIS targets in northern Iraq around the city of Erbil and around Mount Sinjar. But I think it's pretty clear as this threat develops the Obama administration is putting itself in a position where it can really be nimble and respond to the threat accordingly. So the president will likely have to keep Congress up to speed on that.
And as he said over the weekend, this is a process that will not be over in weeks. That was a real pivot for him because he has not been too keen on going back into Iraq with any kind of U.S. military mission. So this is a big change for the president, and I think it's a big indication to the American people this is not going to end any time soon. Every indication we're getting from the White House is that the U.S. military could be combating the ISIS threat for some time, Chris.
CUOMO: I can't tell you how many people are reaching out over the weekend, Jim, saying the past is the past. There's no way Iraq stays together if there's not a monitoring force on the ground. Who's that going to be? I think we know the answer to that. Jim, thank you very much. Keep us in the loop.
ACOSTA: They said no boots on the ground, so that's right, that's right, Chris.
CUOMO: But that was then, and this is now. So let's see what they say now.
A lot of news this morning. Let's get those headlines for you from Michaela.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, you know, we've been following the Ebola story for some time. The World Health organization holds a meeting today on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. An ethics panel will need to discuss using experimental treatments to fight the virus. Two American workers with the disease have responded well to an experimental medicine that had never before tested on humans. The panel will discuss and explore who will get the limited amount of drugs that are available.
A drive-by shooting in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward killed two teenagers, injured five others. Among the critically wounded, a 2- year-old and a 4-year-old boy. According to "The Times Picayune", relatives say one of the boys was shot in the head. Witnesses tell police the gunman fired from a late model dark sedan Sunday night, possibly a Honda Accord, then sped off. Investigators are asking for the public's help now to find the shooter or shooters
Talk about a thrill ride gone wrong. This roller coaster came to a complete stop right near the tippy top of its 79-foot-tall peak. 24 riders left hanging and it took four hours to get them off the Joker's Jinx, coaster at Six Flags America in Maryland Sunday. It's one thing when you're going fast, but when you come to a stop. The theme park says it does not know what made the ride stall, but the ride apparently has a computerized safety system that can make it stop. The good news is nobody was injured but I'm sure some nerves were frazzled for four hours.
BOLDUAN: I was looking at the rescue crews who were having to walk just so delicately over to them.
PEREIRA: You're praying for a lot of things. Rescue ride rescues -- thrill ride rescues are probably not standard operating procedure.
CUOMO: Five hours at elevation, baking, a lot of kids, stressful. A lot of comp tickets coming their way.
BOLDUAN: I'd say so. Do you want them? That's the question.
Up next on NEW DAY, we're going to get back to the chaos in Missouri as angry crowds take to the streets to protest the death of an unarmed teenager at the hands of a police officer there. Will there be calm today or more violence? We're going live to Missouri for the very latest.
CUOMO: President Obama's foreign policy getting some criticism, but from an unexpected place, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What her harsh words about her former boss can say about her potential run for the White House. We'll take it on in INSIDE POLITICS.
That's not a good look she's giving them right there.
BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Growing outrage this morning on the streets of a St. Louis suburb. Overnight there were angry crowds looting; gunshots heard as they protest the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager killed at the hands of a police officer. But there are conflicting reports about what led up to the shooting.
CNN's George Howell is live in Ferguson, Missouri. That is the suburb we're talking about here with the very latest. The question of course right now and most immediately, George, is it going to be calm today or are you expecting to see renewed violence?
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, that is certainly the hope. Where we are right now here in front of the police department on Florison Street (ph), one of the main streets here through Ferguson, and I can tell you things are much quieter now than they were several hours before after what was supposed to be a peaceful march. We found ourselves caught in the middle really of the chaos, a situation that degenerated into anger, into yelling. And some people that came out to simply take advantage of the moment.
HOWELL (voice-over): Across the city a night of pure chaos.
POLICE OFFICER: This is your warning, leave the area. Disperse.
HOWELL: People pushing the limit with police. Racial tensions, nerves on edge, even an officer we caught on camera gave in to his rage, calling protesters animals. Listen.
POLICE OFFICER: Bring it. (EXPLETIVE) animals, bring it.
HOWELL: Many here are angry about what witnesses say was an unprovoked attack on an unarmed teenager -- Michael Brown shot and killed Saturday by a Ferguson police officer. We watched as a struggle played out Sunday night. Some protesters who took to the streets trying to keep the peace while taking a stand against police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a peace march. It's nothing to start, to hurt up on these officers. This is all about peace.
HOWELL (on camera): It's not a peace march anymore. I mean, you hear what's happening, you see them, these confrontations between people and police officers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. They got outrageous.
HOWELL (voice-over): Others who simply came to cause trouble.
(on camera): All right, police are still stationary right now but I want to show you what's happening over at that J.C. Wireless. People broke through the glass and right now you can see people running in and out apparently looting that store.
(voice-over): Cell phone video captures the frenzy of stores being looted. Some people threw rocks and bottles. The sound of gunshots rang out several times Sunday night. We had to take cover. All of this started as a peaceful march Sunday for Michael Brown's family.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You took my son away from me. You know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many black men graduate? Not many! Because you bring them down to this type of level where they feel like I don't got nothing to live for anyway, they're going to try to take me out anyway!
HOWELL: The victim's friend says they were walking together when Brown was stopped by a police officer. Witnesses say the teen had his hands in the air at the time he was shot and killed. But police tell a different story, that Brown instigated the altercation, physically assaulting the officer while in his car and struggling to take his gun. The unanswered questions sparked people to take action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here for the community, Caucasian, African- American, Asian, everyone. It doesn't matter what color you are. Get out here and support your people.
HOWELL: Police made several arrests, several hours of insanity. For the moment distracting for the greater call for justice.
HOWELL (on camera): They say it was one hell of a night and I can tell you right now things are much quieter. And that's the good news. The hope here of course that things will remain quiet. There's another peaceful march that is set to happen here at 10:00 a.m. local time. Again, organizers of the last march certainly disappointed to see how that turned out. Again, the hope is that today will be different, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Quiet and calm absolutely needed, and then some real serious questions need to be answered -- what happened in that shooting that led to all of this.
George, thanks so much. George on the ground for us in Missouri this morning.
Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, who is criticizing President Obama's foreign policy these days? Well, it appears this former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On INSIDE POLITICS we're going to take a look at what she has to say about her former boss and what she'd do differently.
PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Here is a look at your headlines.
A political power struggle in Iraq may be coming the a head. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki rejecting calls to step down, has now sent ground troops and tanks into the green zone and several Baghdad neighborhoods in an apparent show of force. Al Maliki says he'll file a legal complaint accusing the newly elected president of violating the constitution. All of this as U.S. air strikes appear to be working. ISIS militants have retreated from at least two towns they once held.
A bird strike being blamed for an engine fire aboard a Jetblue flight this weekend. 186 passengers and six crew members were evacuated using emergency slides from Flight 704 at the main airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The jet was preparing to take off to JFK's airport in New York when one of the engines caught fire. Thankfully, no injuries reported in that incident.
It's officially the summer of Rory McIlroy, who won his second straight golf major, taking the PGA Championship in dramatic fashion, coming back from a rough start at Valhalla. Four golfers had a share of the lead on the last nine holes, but McIlroy prevailed. Overall it's his fourth major title. He becomes just the fourth golfer to win four at age 25 or younger. One shot victory over Phil Mickelson. Makes me feel like I did nothing before the age of 25.
BOLDUAN: I was about to say -- what did we do?
CUOMO: And, Phil, once again second. I mean, he's great. He's won his majors.
PEREIRA: Oh yes, yes.
BOLDUAN: I love that line -- always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
CUOMO: Amazing consistency. I wonder what -- it would be interesting to see, speaking of consistency, how McIlroy keeps going.
CUOMO: So hard, as we saw with Tiger. So hard to sustain.
BOLDUAN: Ooh, yeah, he was in some pain, that last round.
CUOMO: Speaking of pain, there's a lot of political pain to go around so let's get to INSIDE POLITICS on NEW DAY with Mr. John King. Happy Monday, my friend.