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Wildfires Burn Across Southern California; Trump Recognizes Jerusalem As Isreal's Capital; Franken To Make Announcement Thursday; Massive Wildfires Ravaging Southern California; African Migrant Women Forced Into Prostitution In Italy. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired December 7, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay live in Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause in Los Angeles. We're covering the major wildfires burning across Southern California. This date's the worst fire season on record could be out to get a lot worse.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Becky Anderson live in Jerusalem for you, where we are also following international reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize this city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Well, President Trump said he is committed to securing a Middle East peace deal, but his decision to reverse decades of U.S. policy, not sitting well with a Palestinian leader who say: the U.S. is now disqualified from mediating the process. Mr. Trump said, his decision is in the best interest of the U.S. and in the pursuit of peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we finally acknowledged the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It's something that has to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: While recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, fulfills a campaign promise for Mr. Trump, he also announced plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, although that will take years. Still, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had high praise for the U.S. president's decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: The president's decision is an important step towards peace. For there is no peace that doesn't include Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel. I call on all countries that seek peace to join the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move their embassies here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, Palestinian leaders are calling for more protests and a general strike in the hours ahead on Wednesday. Demonstrators marched through the streets of (INAUDIBLE). The city in Authority in President, Mahmoud Abbas predicted dire consequences from Mr. Trump's decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD ABBAS, PRESIDENT, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (through translator): These procedures do also help in the extremist organizations to which a religious war that could harm the whole region, which is going through very critical moments within the international crisis, and would lead us into wars that will never end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, joining me now is former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, Elan Baruch, no fan of the current Israeli leader. In fact, you resigned from Israel diplomatic service on grounds of principle. Donald Trump says, his action over recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and this U.S. embassy move is simply a recognition of reality. Your response?
ELAN BARUCH, FORMER ISRAEL AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH AFRICA: Good morning, Becky. We know that in politics and in diplomacy, in symbolism, raise is high. And any move, which is a reflection of recognizing a situation in existence now for many years is also the first step for a new situation. And it is not so the recognition that is frustrating here, it is a fact that it is only recognition and the context is missing. And it seems to us that the context is entirely in the American domestic political scene, and the consequences will be actually taken place here.
ANDERSON: And what would they be?
BARUCH: We don't know yet, and it's not predictable. We know prophecy has misled commentators and leaders alike, but the capacity of igniting a wave of violence here is enormous.
ANDERSON: You think there is a risk to the stability and security of this city and of Israel at this point?
BARUCH: Yes. Tension comes chronically from the disparity between Palestinians and Israelis. And indeed, in this statement made in Washington yesterday, the disparity has grown even bigger and more dangerous.
[01:05:08] ANDERSON: Outright condemnation, coordinated condemnation from the Palestinians and the wider Arab world, who have said the peace process is now dead, a red line has been crossed and this could cause chaos. What do the Palestinians do next at this point? Can you, for example, support a two-state solution and at the same time recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital? BARUCH: Well, there is no other paradigm that can be followed
realistically, but the two-state solution, if we don't want to fall into the horrible immoral history of South Africa. And the word apartheid is creeping me in; we should be very careful with that. Jerusalem, if you look out, looks very peaceful at the moment, but it is boiling.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. Sir, I know you're going to stay with us for the next couple of hours, for the time being, thank you very much indeed, for joining us. Well, the reaction in the region was swift, as I said. Egypt said it's rejected the move, as did Lebanon. Jordan called it a violation of international legitimacy. In Turkey, protesters filled the streets, chanting "killer U.S., get out of the Middle East", and "damn U.S., damn Israel!" Turkey's government condemns this decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, TURKEY FOREIGN MINISTER: It will not bring any stability, peace --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does the Muslim world respond?
CAVUSOGLU: Not only the Muslim world but I think the whole world is a reaction and the whole world is against this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, our producer, Gul, is live in Istanbul for us now. We certainly heard these chants. I think it's fair to say that this is a decision that neither politicians in Turkey nor those on the streets have applauded. In fact, outright condemnation. Gul, what happens next?
GUL TUYSUZ, CNN PRODUCER: Well, when you look at the region in general, Becky, you see countries that usually have a very hard time and leaders have a very hard time agreeing on anything, coming together in their condemnation of the move by President Trump. In Jordan, after the announcement was made, you had Queen Rania saying that basically, no decision can change the sanctity of the city of Jerusalem for the millions of Arabs, Christians, and Muslims throughout the world.
In Egypt, you had the President Sisi coming out and also rejecting this move by President Trump, and saying that this would only fuel further tensions. In Turkey, you had the Turkish Foreign Minister coming out and saying that this is an irresponsible move. So, across the region, even countries that have relationships, that have diplomatic relationships with Israel, coming out and condemning this and really having a unified voice against it.
And I think one of the things that's very important to note in all of these statements that led up to the announcement and we're made afterward. It's important to note that the leaders put an emphasis on the following. They said that not only will this tank the process that is ongoing in the Middle East, but that it will actually end up fueling extremism which has been a huge worry in the region.
So, leaders coming out and saying this move moves us further away from the stability and the security that the region wants. And in fact, pushes us further towards the extremists, and really emboldens them. So, really, quite a lot of reaction coming out from leaders.
And on the streets here, as you mentioned, that protest outside the Istanbul Consulate, really, you could hear the tension in the voices of the people, saying that, you know, as they waited for the announcement and when they heard it, they started booing when the announcement was made. And really, something changed, and people started, you know, chanting "damn the U.S., damn Israel", United States get out of the Middle East." So, even in that small little protest, you could see what difference this decision is making.
ANDERSON: The sore on the ground there in Turkey. Thank you. So, what price this decision by the U.S. president as he fulfills a campaign pledge and satisfies his core base at home. Thousands of miles away here, in the Middle East, it is unclear what happens next. I will have more from Jerusalem later this hour. Let's get you back to John Vause in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, covering what are these massive wildfires. John?
VAUSE: Massive fires, Becky, and could quite possibly grow even bigger in the coming hours and days, because just as expected and very much feared, the winds have started to pick up. The gusts are expected to be as strong as 70 or maybe 80 miles per hour. A firefighter says it's impossible to put out a fire under those sorts of conditions. By far, the biggest and the most destructive fire so far is burning to the north of here, the Thomas fire in Ventura County.
Also, we had that fire has now grown into 90,000 acres -- that's six times the size of Manhattan. And just over the ridge, it's what's known as the Skirball Fire. It's like thousands of -- or hundreds of acres have been blackened, homes have been destroyed in Bel-Air. One of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Sara Sidner is there live. Sara, so, ahead of these winds, fire crew are trying to do whatever they could, they're building defensives, they are trying to ring the bladed in preparation for these winds. So, what's the very latest now from where you are?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's amazing what they've been able to do because there are large areas in the canyons that have been stopped right up to the houses. You will see that charred hills, and then align where the house survived, but this was not one of those. This home and the home next to it, burned, completely destroyed. There are four houses here that have been destroyed, but 11 houses that have been damaged because of these fires.
Pretty incredible considering how heavy the winds were, initially. Then, throughout the day, what helped is that everything sort of calmed down. It was five to 10 miles an hour, and the firefighters were able to get a bit more of a handle on it, but we are waiting for an update which should come within the next hour on this particular fire. We should mention, this is the smallest, really, of all the fires that are burning around here. And yes, it's doing damage, and yes, it's in a very well-known area, Bel-Air, of where there are multimillion-dollar homes.
But the bigger fire you mentioned earlier in Ventura, we're talking about 90,000 acres plus and it looks like Armageddon as we drove through there to get to this fire. We were down in Ventura talking to homeowners who have gone back. We've seen pictures of people who left their home at 9:30 in the morning, and by 10:30 their homes were destroyed all the way down to just one chimney standing. It has been devastating for so many, hundreds of people here as they watched these fires go through and worry about their properties. And that, certainly, still the case here in Bel-Air.
The last update was that it was five percent contained, but we are going to get another update coming up shortly. And just to let you know, just over my right shoulder is the 405, and past that is the Getty, which has, of course, priceless paintings and art inside of it. They are not taking that artwork out, but the Getty, so far, is safe -- we're just seeing a bit of smoke throughout the day going over top of the Getty. So, that area is safe for now. John?
VAUSE: What was incredible at the Getty, though, is that this is a museum. Last report I saw, I think, it had like $7 billion worth of artwork. Clearly, other people would say that the art is priceless. That building was specifically designed to withstand a fire threat. And that's why they're leaving a lot of these artworks, and these, you know, writings, and antiquities, they're all staying in place, because of the way of that building has designed. But it's not far from the 405 Freeway, which is just behind me. And you mentioned Armageddon, there were scenes of what you imagine Armageddon would look like for these early morning commuters on Wednesday with entire sides of hills lit up. You had to see it, to believe it.
SIDNER: Yes, it's absolutely true. I mean, those initial pictures, because the winds, again, that is the big thing that changes things here. The wind really just whipped those down on the mountains, down into the canyons, and we saw the remnants of that after it happened. Because, when there was daybreak, we could see all the areas that were burned. We have been seeing, even into the night, we're seeing air drops. They are dropping water on some of the hotspots.
But, this has been extremely difficult, partly, because, the winds were so strong, they couldn't send air power, they couldn't fly in these winds, and the smoke was so incredibly thick that they couldn't see much. And so, that's been a really difficult thing for firefighters to deal with. But because winds went down just a bit, they were able to really get a hold on keeping it from burning several houses. But again, just here in this area, 11 houses have been damaged, then four burned to the ground. John?
[01:15:20] VAUSE: Yes, the winds are clearly the biggest problem, and it's a problem which about to get a lot bigger. Sara, thank you for being with us. We appreciate the live report. Let's get a little more now on what we're in for in the next few hours, in the next day or so. Lou Paulson is Chairman of the California Firefighters Association, he joins us live from Oakland. Lou, let's talk a little bit more about those Santa Ana winds, and the
problems which firefighters will be facing. Sara mentioned this about, you know, one of the key issues here is air power, because the helicopters and the planes have been very effective, but when the wind starts to blow, the water and the fire retardant, it just gets blown away. So, it's essentially useless. So, what else will the firefighters be looking at and dealing with in the next few hours?
LOU PAULSON, CHAIRMAN, CALIFORNIA FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION: Well, John, I appreciate you having me on. I think you hit it on the head that the winds, that the weather is going to be a big factor here. And based on that, we'll have limited resources to be able to really fight the fire. So, we go in the situation as firefighters are trying to evacuate, protect property, try to move the fire as best we can out of those populated areas. And I think it's important to note that while there are major wind issues in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, we now have red flag warnings with high wind warnings down through Orange County, San Bernardino Riverside, and San Diego County. So, where the all of Southern California is in the high fire danger right now.
VAUSE: Yes. This is a level "p" threat -- a level purple threat, rather when it comes to the wind wildfire threat. It's never been used before. So, that's an indication of just how dangerous conditions are right now. And before these fires in Southern California started on Monday, this state was already dealing with its worst fire season on record. And clearly, it's about to get a lot worse. What does that do for the firefighters who've already had such horrendous year battling so many wildfires across this state?
PAULSON: Well, it' been a tough year as you pointed out for firefighters in California. We had the Northern California firefighters, we have a lot of resources up and down the state committed for long period of time to those fires. We had the La Tuna Fire in Los Angeles earlier this year, plus a whole host of other fires up and down the state. We sent resources to Oregon to fight fires, we sent resources to help with hurricanes in Florida and in Texas. So, firefighters in California have been very busy, very fatigued, and we'll meet the challenge but it's been wearing on everybody, obviously.
VAUSE: And is there one factor that right now that you can point to that has made this year just so horrendously bad for this state when it comes to the fires?
PAULSON: Well, I think the drought is the underlying problem and climate change is the underlying problem to all these things. The drought has changed the fuel-moisture dynamic. In the Sears, we have a lot of (INAUDIBLE) over 100 million dead trees, which is essentially fuel in the forest. In these areas, we have a lot more light, flashy fuels because of the heavy rains from the drought. In Southern California, we didn't really have any fall moisture which would've helped with this fire problem. So, the climate really has affected the firefighting in the state of California.
VAUSE: OK. Lou, well, we wish all the firefighters are out there, and the law enforcement and sheriffs just trying to get people to safety and trying to battle the fires. Clearly, they have a lot of work ahead of them and it is going to get a lot worse, and we wish them the best. And thank you for being with us, most appreciate it.
PAULSON: Thank you for having me.
[01:19:05] VAUSE: We'll take a short break. But when we come back, there has been a lot of anger, a lot of condemnation, and a lot of concern all around the world after the U.S. president declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. In a moment, though, we'll tell you how Washington is dealing with the fallout.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering. I've judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, since the president's remarks, two senior White House officials have admitted to CNN that the president's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is derailing the peace process for now. They say, Mr. Trump's peace team is drafting a tentative accord, but they haven't tried to bring both sides back to the negotiating table. Palestinian officials are blasting the decision, and say the move disqualifies the U.S. from mediating the peace process.
Joining me here in L.A., our Political Commentator and Radio Host, Mo'Kelly; and Republican Strategist, Chris Faulkner. Gentlemen, good to have you with me once again. Mo, so the president is saying, you know, this is in the best interest of the U.S. and it's good for the peace process -- although officials now are saying, the peace process has been derailed for now. I guess my question is: what is your read on the situation? Was this really about the political or about personal considerations for the president?
MO'KELLY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If we look at the fullness of the decision-making process of President Trump, it's usually something which makes him look good to his base. I would say, this is more of the same. He didn't really delineate how this was in the best interest of America as a whole. If anything, it sows more unrest in the region, which doesn't help the peace process. I think if anything, we're going to see in the next few days whether it's just protesting or does it escalate to something else? But as far as the larger interests, I'm not exactly sure where he's going with that.
SESAY: Yes. I mean, Chris, to that point. Again, the president said -- even if he's been slightly contradicted by the officials -- that this was in the best interest of the peace process. But this evening, we heard the officials say one thing, and that we've heard from Arab leaders, we've heard from Palestinian officials, we've heard from Hanan Ashrawi who's on the executive committee of the PLO. I want you to listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANAN ASHRAWI, PALESTINIAN LEGISLATOR: If means the best man of any peace process, and the destruction of the chances of peace in the region, it is in one blow. President Trump has the story not only the chances of peace but the stability and security of the region as a whole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: So, Chris, Hanan Ashrawi is not saying that the peace process has been detailed. She said it's being destroyed by this move by the president. And we also know that a number of countries have basically come out and condemned the U.S., not a just Arab country. We know that the U.N. Security Council meeting that's coming up called by France, called by the U.K., and called by Sweden, and called by Italy. I mean, was fulfilling a campaign promise worth: A. in the words of Hanan Ashrawi, destroying the peace process and isolating the U.S.?
CHRIS FAULKNER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's dangerous to assume that this is just a political stunt, and not actually what the president believes. Whether it's President Trump, or certainly Vice President Pence who's been very vocal about this issue. They clearly believe this is the right choice for the United States; it's the right choice for us. And they are criticized by the organization such as the United Nations, which basically subsists off our goodwill because we pay most of the bills there. And quite frankly, American foreign policy, whether it's the French or others, they haven't been on board with our foreign policy since. Basically, we are saving them for foreign invaders.
[01:24:59] SESAY: But the United States needs those partners for coalitions to do certain things in this world. That's just the reality.
FAULKNER: We need, and ideally, would they be seeing the level of support? Unfortunately, many of those nations are conflicted, because their financial interests in the Middle East with countries that are enemies of Israel. And if so, of course, they're going to be more -- they're going to be adverse to the president's decision.
SESAY: But you make the point about interests in the Middle East. The U.S. is very closely in line with Saudi Arabia, right? For various interest for oils, for the arms sales and all sorts of things.
SESAY: Saudi Arabia has come out and condemned this.
FAULKNER: In terms of disrupting Middle East peace process, there's a culprit that no one seems to be mentioning -- that's Iran. Iran has done more to Israel are to basically take off the rails the peace process than any other player in the Middle East, including President Trump. They're actively funding people to kill other folks. I mean, what the president did today, it's going to offend a lot of people, some people are not going to like that. Of course, the Palestinian Authority, which, again, the Palestinian authority is paid for by U.S. taxpayer dollars. We spend $400 million a year to pay Hanan Ashwari and many of her other officials to make sure that Hamas doesn't come in. Because they are the obviously much, much worse to actually deal with.
KELLY: But the U.S. can't have it both ways. If we're going to be the impartial peace broker in the Middle East process, then we can't put our finger on the scale and declare a sign, yes, Israel has sovereignty, you can declare where its capital was going to be. But at the same time, if we're supposed to help both sides come to the table, we can't just sit on one side of it.
SESAY: Sadly, we're out of time, so I want to move very quickly to talking about Senator Al Franken. We're expecting an announcement on Thursday. We don't know what he's going to y. The office has not said whether or not he'll resign in the face of the seventh woman coming out and saying that she was the subject of some sexual misconduct from Senator Franken. Now, we see 30-something -- 32 senators come out and say Franken has to go. Mo, why did it take the Democrats so long?
KELLY: I don't know why it took so long, and I don't know why they're taking this particular action. It's unfortunate that the Democrats are harder on Democrats than they are on Republicans. If you want to take a principled stand, then you take a principled stand irrespective of who the alleged offender is or was. And if this is going to be the bar going forward, if you're accused whether you admit it or not, then hopefully they'll have the same principal applied evenly going forward, including the president, including Congressman Farenthold in Texas.
SESAY: Chris, very quickly, with Franken possibly resigning, unconfirmed yet, we don't know. But certainly, Conyers is gone, as we know. Conyers is gone. What is the situation in term of Republicans? Because, now, if all party who are facing these allegations clear the stage, Democrats can go after Republicans in relation to Roy Moore who is expected to win that seat in Alabama, and challenge this notion that Republicans, the GOP is the party of family values.
FAULKNER: Well, it's unfortunate that -- their real issue here really is a fair and equal treatment for women in the workplace. I think we're all happy to see the advancement, incredible advancement of that in the last couple of months. At the same time, due process is vitally important here. Republican or Democrat, I think everyone can agree, that due process is important.
Just because someone is accused, whether it's four, whether it's five, or seven, other senators calling for Al Franken to step down conveniently right before the Alabama election next. Is there some correlation there? Yes, I think absolutely. I think a lot of these senators cannot wait to dig in on Roy Moore when he gets elected next week. And they are very, very conscious of the fact that they're going to look disingenuous with Al Franken's Senate --
SESAY: Just so I'm clear on the record because we are out of time, are you saying that you are OK with Roy Moore continuing in this race because there hasn't been due process? Is that what you are saying, that he's the right person for --
FAULKNER: No. No, I'm not saying -- Roy Moore won the primary. By the law, he is the candidate that is going to advance. And based on most polls and the generic vote record in Alabama, he's likely going to win that election next week. And when he does, he's immediately going to come under scrutiny by a lot of Democrats and probably some Republicans. And if you're in Democratic leadership, you're not going to want Al Franken standing right there next to you as you are casting accusations at Roy Moore.
SESAY: Sadly, we are completely out of time. Chris Faulkner and Mo'Kelly, always a pleasure. Thank you, gentlemen.
KELLY: Thank you.
FAULKNER: Thank you.
[01:29:28] SESAY: Thank you. All right. We're going to take a very quick break here on NEWSROOM L.A. The dream of returning to their homeland, what Palestinian refugees have to say about the U.S. president's decision. Stay with us.
[01:32:03] ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isha Sesay live in Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm John Vause. Not far from one of the worst fire zones here in Southern California, Bel-Air just behind me over that ridge (INAUDIBLE) a strong gusty winds is now expected to escalate the threat here across the state in the coming days
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm Becky Anderson live for you in Jerusalem with the very latest on the U.S. decision to recognize this City of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Around the world, there's been outrage, condemnation and among some, words of praise, but there's one place where the President's announcement means little because the landing concerns is close to the heart but far from home. Here's CNN's Ben Wedeman.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jerusalem is less than 150 miles from Beirut's Shatila Palace (INAUDIBLE) refugee camp. Reminders of the holy city are on the walls as are the faces of their hero's past. But for the thousands who called the camp home, the uproar over President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a world away. 92-year-old Abdullah Talib shows me a hatchet, he says, was left behind by Lebanese Christian militia men who slaughtered hundreds of Palestinian civilians here in September 1982. Allowed into the camp by Israeli troops. Abdullah's anger is focused not on the Israelis or the Americans, but rather on Arab leaders who loudly profess support for the Palestinian's claim to Jerusalem can do nothing.
ABDULLAH TALIB, PALESTINIAN REFUGEE: All the Arab States are traitors, he says. They're all the same, traitors.
WEDEMAN: The first generation of refugees is dying out. The camp teams with children, the latest generation of refugees.
Plus, to the inhabitants of this refugee camp never set foot in Palestine and given the failure of all intents to solve the issue probably never will.
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are at best second-class citizens, most restricted to living in ramshackled camps like this, barred from a variety of professions. With no solution in sight, this bleak existence is their lot for the foreseeable future. Against the odds, the dream of return lives on in the heart of 77-year-old Akmed Hadid.
"Until Judgment Day, I will wait," he says. "And I will tell my children and my grandchildren our land is Palestine."
[01:35:11] The location of the American embassy in Israel won't make much difference to the people here. It's a minor detail. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Shatila refugee camp, Beirut.
ANDERSON: Joining me now from Los Angeles, CNN National Security Analyst Gayle Tzemach Lemmon and Josh Lockman who is Southwest Regional Director of J Street. To paraphrase the President, it seems clear now that the physical location of the American embassy is not material to a peace deal, it's not an impediment to peace, and it's not a facilitator to peace. Gayle, he would say that, wouldn't he, if he were or as he is the U.S. President determined to fulfill a campaign pledge. Tell that though to the Palestinians who say this is an illegal move that proves the U.S. is a dishonest broker for peace.
GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. And to (INAUDIBLE) to really tried to talk the United States out of making this move in a very visible and public way. I think the real issue here is that you had de facto reality becoming now stated policy. And the question is, is it at all possible for a viable peace process to emerge between those two things, and does this put us much further away, is it a really fatal blow as many here in the United States have seen it, and certainly many overseas, or is it one thing that will, you know, sort of spark another round of discussion and will actually lead the way to a viable peace process which does not preclude Jerusalem being any part of whatever the deal comes, right? The President went to pains to say that. And I think we don't know yet, but this was clearly made for domestic audience that was very much focused on Trump fulfilling his campaign promise.
ANDERSON: A domestic audience thousands and thousands of miles away from here, Jerusalem and me, and the wider Middle East. Josh, you could argue that Netanyahu's success here is also his failure, not least in terms of the potential risk to Israel's stability and security in the short-term. But to the arch negotiator, Donald Trump, as he sees himself will now exact a very heavy price from the Israeli Prime Minister. What do you perceive is the next step at this point?
JOSH LOCKMAN, SOUTHWEST REGIONAL DIRECTOR, J STREET: That's a great question. You know, I think, first off, this was a reckless and damaging decision by the President. I think if we look at the calculus of the decision that it's, you know, quite similar to what Trump did two months ago with decertifying the Iran nuclear deal. You know, he elevates essentially ideology and, you know, political end game as Gayle mentioned toward his base over the practical advice of his national security team on this issue. Both Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Mattis opposed this move as they did the move to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. But as far as the immediate risk goes, I think it's -- you know, it could create again a serious risk of undermining the American-led mediation of the peace process.
I don't think Trump will be demanding much of Bibi in the coming days and weeks, but suffice to say this comes at great odds to Kushner's initiative and we'll see, you know, again, whether some kind of peace process can resume.
ANDERSON: Gayle, does the U.S. President care much whether going forward he is seen as an honest broker? After all, he is all about America first.
LEMMON: Yes. And he promised a very unpredictable foreign policy, right, as candidate Trump, and yet it's been fairly predictable what he said he was going to do during his run for office is more or less what he has been executing, right? He is unilateral person in a multilateral world. And he is bringing that to United States foreign policy. And we see this over and over again, whether it is at the U.N. where he brought a very domestic focused speech to the U.N. this fall or whether it's here in this conversation that was really about, you know, the American role in bringing whatever future peace agreement might be within the context of, you know, moving the capital and acknowledging de facto really. And so, it really is designed for a U.S. audience, but it is also his view of American leadership in the world.
[01:39:55] ANDERSON: Josh, we have heard the predictable coordinated out-right condemnation from Arab leaders around this region. When you talk to people behind the scenes, though, hand on heart, ultimately, you will hear those very same leaders say we were going nowhere with the peace process, something had to change. So, could the U.S. President at this -- at this point, be that facilitator?
LOCKMAN: I would hope that obviously any efforts to renew talks between Israel and the Palestinians could succed under this President as well, but I think that this move further alienates Arab and regional partners not just from Israel but the United States. And obviously, it runs the risk of inflaming violence on the ground and we'll see whether that does takes place. We hope it doesn't. But suffice it to say, this not only could potentially impair Israel's national security interest, but also U.S. national security interest as well in the sense that it distances us from key Arab regional allies.
ANDERSON: And Gayle, just what are those U.S. security interests and the risks to those interests in this region?
LEMMON: I think it's so important to take a step back and look at what the region is dealing with, right? You have still the Gulf, the inter-Gulf debate going on about Qatar. You have the Syrian civil war which is claiming life after life, which is facing -- you know, children are facing siege, you know, the ISIS fight is not yet over, and you have the United States is very focused on counterterror measures in the region and working with some of the very same allies who were not so much in favor. And then in Saudi Arabia, you have a new crown prince who is very much making himself known and his policy priorities including countering Iran front and center. And so, I do think the region is focused on many issues right now, certainly not just this one. And the ISIS fight and countering Iran remain the two top issues for this administration in the region.
ANDERSON: To both of you, we really appreciate your analyses, important stuff at what is an incredibly important time for this -- the City of Jerusalem and for this wider region. Still to come, U.S. firefighters in California are once again working to contain a series of destructive wildfires. See why dry conditions mixed with fierce winds are making a bad situation worse. Stay with us.
[01:45:02] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. More than 100,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes as Southern California deals with a number of growing wildfires across this region. More than 40,000 acres have now been burned since Monday alone. Dry conditions, low humidity, and worst of all, gusty strong winds are making this an unprecedented fire emergency. And this was a terrifying scene early Wednesday morning, entire hillsides set ablaze. Some of the drivers who managed to get through these fires in the Sepulveda Pass, they reported that windows and windscreens and windshields were hot to the touch.
Well, for more now, fire investigator Robert Rowe joins us. He's in our L.A. studio. Robert, thank you for taking the time to be with us. Just to pick up on what happened here on the 405 Freeway about, you know, 24 hours ago, with those hillsides on fire, people essentially just trying to push through because they had no other choice to get through this very narrow canyon. But when you saw those images, what was your first reaction?
ROBERT ROWE, FIRE INVESTIGATOR: Well, it's a very scary scene to see, you know? And, you know, as far as the fire itself, it's a very difficult to make decisions in this type of an environment. So, the best thing to do is to push through and to do the best you can.
VAUSE: OK. We'll be talking a lot about the return of the Santa Ana winds, gusts up to 80 miles per hour in the coming hours into Thursday, so what can we expect? How bad do you think this will get?
ROWE: Well, it's expected that the winds are to be up around 70 or 80-mile-an-hour mark which is a tremendous amount of wind. And it's going to be blowing back across, in my understanding, into the west, to the unburned areas of (INAUDIBLE) ahead of the fire. It's going to be very dangerous for the folks that are living in those areas. The humidity is dropping, which is drying out all of the brush and the underbrush, so we're going to have some real issues tonight with the wind, with the dry grasses, and shrubs, and trees. It's going to be a real challenge for firefighters tonight.
VAUSE: Right now, it's believed near close to 200 homes have been confirmed -- homes and buildings confirmed destroyed. That number is expected to rise quite significantly when they can do a proper assessment, but what is notable and what so many are thankful for obviously is that there has been no loss of life in these fires so far. Everyone hoping it stays that way. Is that just luck or is there another explanation why no one has died in these fires so far?
ROWE: Well, you know, it's really interesting as we're watching some of the footage today. You know, the Fire Department has been very, very effective in sharing the concerns of safe evacuation. It's so important for the -- for the community to be able to understand what they have to do, and that's to be ready, get ready, or get, set, go is kind of the terminology they're using. Get ready, get your -- get your personal belongings in order, put them in cars and your vehicles and then be ready to go when the fire department or the emergency personnel tell you to leave and not to try to stay back and fight the fire. It's very dangerous to try to do that. So, I think they're doing a wonderful job.
VAUSE: I was about to say, it does seem that the word has finally got out that it's best to leave the house, don't fight the fire, leave it, you can rebuild a home, but you can't obviously rebuild a life. Just finally here, Robert, you're a fire investigator, you know, obviously, there are still a lot of work to be done to find out exactly what caused these fires. If you were to take a stab at it, give a hunch as to what may be the cause of these fires?
ROWE: Well, as soon as all of this firefighting operation is complete and I'm sure there's going to be several investigators out in the field, going back to the day of origin, of where that particular area was where these fires were reported, it's going to be a very long tedious task to be able to identify the areas first of where these fires first started. But that is where the work begins as far as trying to determine the cause and the origin of the fires. That is a tedious work. That's plenty of work they're going to have out there in the field trying to figure that out.
VAUSE: I think they're still trying to find a cause for the fires in Northern California about eight weeks ago. And obviously, as you say, it takes a lot of time, a lot of work to find out the cause, and I guess, you know, we'll just have to wait because it is important to know what is the reason for these fires and how they started and why. Robert, as always, thank you so much for being with us, most appreciated.
[01:50:08] ROWE: You're welcome. Thank you. VAUSE: OK, we've been talking a lot about these Santa Ana winds. The
gusts have been picking up here, and expected to get a lot worse in the coming hours. Derek Van -- Derek Van Dam is with us at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta. So, Derek, what are we looking at here as far as the forecast goes? How bad will it get, and how long is it expected to be against a threatening situation?
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Unfortunately, John, it's going to get worse before it gets better. You know, every day firefighters in Los Angeles are handed what is called the brush burning index. Now, a number over 165 is considered extreme. They were handed an index of 296 for the forecast for Thursday. So, this is prompted the National Weather Service to issue its first ever purple threat level which is extreme. Fires that have -- that are continuing to burn have an extreme growth rate. They will burn very intensely and be uncontrollable for several hours, if not, days.
And that's what we've seen with the Thomas Fire in particular. We know that we've been tracking several large fires, but it's the Thomas Fire that we've really focused in on Ventura County. It lurks behind this, it's just incredible. It is two times the size of the City of Milan. It's already burnt over 360 square kilometers. It's so large that the International Space Station can see it. In fact, an astronaut, Randy Bresnik tweeted this photo today. Here is the Santa Ana winds clearly pushing the Thomas Fire smoke straight into the Pacific Ocean. It's incredible that you can see that from space.
Now, it is going to get worse before it gets better. Unfortunately, we have our ridge of high pressure that we talk about. That's what funnels our Santa Ana Winds across Southern California. And they will get stronger as the night progresses into Thursday morning. We're expecting wind gusts easily in excess of 50 miles per hour. Some of the chat groups that we follow out there already reports of wind gusts of 72 miles per hour in Ventura County where some of the larger fires are burning. On top of that, tinder box conditions continue with relative humidity values in the low teens, that means it is extremely dry, the vegetation is dry, and while this ridge of high pressure is really just pushing all of our available moisture and any potential of rainfall well to our north, that means that the winds will continue and the fire threat continues right through Thursday and into the weekend. John?
VAUSE: Yes, and it's December and while wildfires have happened before in December, it's rare and there's never been anything like this before. Derek, thank you. We'll take a short break. When we come back, a European dream turns to a nightmare for migrant women from Africa. CNN's "FREEDOM PROJECT" is next.
SESAY: Well, this week's CNN's "FREEDOM PROJECT" is focusing on modern-day slavery within the Africa-Europe migration crisis. Last year, thousands of African migrant women headed to Europe for a fresh start only to find themselves sold into prostitution. CNN's Isa Soares has one woman's story.
[01:50:03] ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On a bitterly cold October night, young women huddle over a stove, each one waiting patiently for men. Finally across the road, a car stops and one girl runs to her client. This is Europe and these streets (INAUDIBLE) in Rome are their open prison. In 2016, 11,000 Nigerian women arrived by sea in Italy, according to the International Organization for Migration, most of whom risk become victims of trafficking and prostitution in Europe. Meet 17-year-old Becky, she was one of them and she came in search of the European dream.
BECKY, VICTIM OF PROSTITUTION: I just wanted to look for a better life and a better future.
SOARES: She was tricked by a madam, a female Nigerian pimp who works for trafficking ring.
BECKY: She pays.
SOARES: So, she pays, but you're indebted to her? How much money do you need to pay her back?
BECKY: 35,000 euro.
SOARES: But her journey is fraught. Along the way, she's taken prisoner and is raped at the hands of predators in Libya.
BECKY: When you're sleeping at night, they would just come, get up, follow me. Sometimes they would (INAUDIBLE) they have to put you in that same room where there are other people there. Do what they have to do to you and they would just leave.
SOARES: Together with four other girls, Becky has (INAUDIBLE) in Italy. Now, hear the reality of this transaction is clear.
BECKY: This place will make money. But you have to sleep with men. (INAUDIBLE) it's better to bring 200 euro back to your madam. Maybe if you must sleep (INAUDIBLE) the highest he can pay you is 30 euro. (INAUDIBLE) how many men are you going to sleep with to get 200 euros?
SOARES: Your whole life is going to be tied to this debt?
BECKY: You keep paying, paying, paying. It never gets finished.
SOARES: She escapes, she's now being held by (INAUDIBLE) migrant rights and anti-traffic organization that has rescued more than 400 women and girls from prostitution. Like the others here, she has started Italian lessons and her job is a ceramist. Work that allows her to reflect on what she's endured.
BECKY: Many people has asked them not to come. They will not listen to you because they feel like living abroad is the best life ever. Everybody wants to be here, everybody wants to see what it's like, but it's not what they think it is. SOARES: It's clear for all to see what it actually is, a new slave
trade of human trafficking and human misery. Isa Soares, CNN, Piedmont in Northern Italy.
SESAY: Totally heart-breaking. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A. I'm Isha Sesay. Stay with us. We'll have much more on Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital along with the latest on wildfire that's burning right here in Southern California. Do stay with us.