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More Evacuations Ordered In Thomas Fire As Crews Fight To Protect Ojai Amid Weird Wind Pattern; Massive Wildfires Ravaging Southern California; Trump Recognizes Jerusalem As Israel's Capital. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired December 7, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, tough views all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay live in Los Angeles. Two major breaking news stories right now.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR I'm John Vause not far from the exclusive suburb of Bel-Air one of a - one of the major fires zones burning across southern California and there are now fears that are generate (ph) strong seas winds will only make this crisis worse.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I'm Becky Anderson in Jerusalem for you this morning as U.S. President Donald Trump now recognized as the capital of Israel. It's a decision that many call a threat to Middle East peace. Palestinian leaders are calling for a general strike and another day of protest against Donald Trump's decision.
Demonstrators marched through the streets of Gaza on Wednesday. Arab leaders condemned the president's move predicting extremists, holy wars and an end to the Middle East peace process. Mr. Trump insists he remains committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians reach an agreement.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. So, today we call for calm, for moderation and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over their purveyors of hate.
ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Trump has order the State Department to start preparation to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem although that will take years. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on other countries to follow the U.S. leads but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the announcement would lead the region into wars that will never end.
BENJAMIN METANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We're profoundly grateful for the president for his courageous and just decision to recognize. The recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the U.S. embassy here. This decision reflects the president's commitment to an ancient but enduring truth, to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.
MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): Salutation to our brave captives and to our injured people who have sacrificed themselves for the sake of Palestine and Jerusalem. Long live Palestine, long live Jerusalem the free, eternal and Arabic (ph) capital of the state of Palestine.
ANDERSON: Let's see a voice not far from where I stand today in Jerusalem a little further but not too far from here, 45 minutes or so, let's say, by road is Amman in Jordon Jamana Karachi joining me from there. Coordinated condemnation across the Arab world. Led in part, Jamana, by Jordan who have more at stake here than most others. Explain, if you will.
JAMANA KARACHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Becky, you know for the past week or so and even before that for the past year we have been hearing the warnings coming from Jordanian officials including King Abjullah about such a move and we have seen the statements saying that this is an illegal move according to the government, violates international law.
They're really concerned about the repercussions that they were described by the king as very dangerous repercussions when it comes to the security and stability of the region. As you mentioned, this - Jordan plays a key role here for several reasons. Of course first of all you've got this country that is more than half the population here is either Palestinian or of Palestinian decent.
So, there is that concern about any sort of reaction. But I have to mention, Becky, since this announcement was made it is not just Palestinians here who are angered, infuriated by the announcement by the president. It is Palestinians and Jordanians alike as we have seen in other parts of the world.
Then you have Jordan's official rule as the custodial of the holy sites for Muslims in the city of Jerusalem and of course there's also that concern about what this means when it comes to Jordan's position as it tries to revive or tried for a long time or the past year since President Trump came into office to try and revive the peace process.
The Jordanians right now, Becky, here saying what they want to do is to try and contain the repercussions of this announcement.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: (INAUIDIBLE) in Jordan joining me now in Jerusalem. A former Israeli ambassador who resigned from the diplomatic service on groups of principal, a man who is no fan of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ilan Baruch joining me now.
You response firstly and briefly to the details of President Donald Trump's announcement and you thoughts on the timing of that announcement.
ILAN BARUCH, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR: What we see here is a symbolic gesture as supporting Israel and its claim for the city and without actually giving any limits to it and the limits or the details are where we need to clear pay attention right now.
The context must be not American domestic but Middle Eastern and primarily, we need to look at the Palestine Israel relations.
ANDERSON: It was fascinating to hear the White House actually being sort of relatively transparent about the fact that this was the campaign pledge and that the U.S. President wasn't going to let his care base down. That core base, thousand and thousand of miles form here.
The offshore of his decision, of course, will affect lives here in Jerusalem and around this wider region. So, sir, what happens next and what should happen next? -
BARUCH: Yes -
ANDERSON: Two quite different questions.
BARUCH: Yes, we have been experiencing a long phase of impaction internationally. The words is turning to deal with its own issues, primarily Europe. We have been through a phase of elections in France, in Germany, in the Netherlands and in other places. And countries were prepared to take the risk of leading us alone and that risk cannot be taken anymore.
That's where we can sue the kind gesture in order to reemploy a leverage of political move.
ANDERSON: And how do you suggest that is done?
BARUCH: We need to see a multilateral forum reconvene. The French had tried to do that in Paris last year but elections have removed Francois Hollande from office and it still remains to be seen where Macron is going to take us. In Germany, we are waiting for the government to be reformed and so Europe needs to cut - I'm calling from here to the high representative vice president Federica Mogherini to use her power and to come back to this place and make a difference.
ANDERSON: Because you say this cannot be a bilateral transaction at this point brokered by what some will now call the dishonest broker, that being the U.S.
BARUCH: Well, we have been through a serious attempt by the American administration, the the Obama administration with Secretary of State John Kerry to run a process -
ANDERSON: He said he ran out of time --
BARUCH: And it was grounded. And it was grounded in my view because of the fact that the basic ingredients were missing. We need to have a balancing component and then that's where the international meeting needs to come in.
ANDERSON: Or else.
BARUCH: Well because as we say is unpredictable, it can be dramatic; it can be dangerous and very costly in life and damage.
ANDERSON: You grew up in this city. I know you know it's challenged even though you are a man who was born and brought up here. What are the risks that it faces at this point? Behind those hallowed walls is it worth it?
BARUCH: Well, Becky, the Palestine Israel conflict with rather breaks into the region and the world at large is actually - the core of it is here and we need to be with Jerusalem with special care. First and foremost, we need to settle the base and the base must be equality. We have been through a phase in our history where the Palestinians were ignored and they were not getting a fair chance to establish themselves as partners and we need to change that.
BECKY ANDERSON: With that, I'll leave it there, it's been a pleasure having you on. Your analysis is incredibly important for us as we try to help inform; what is an incredibly important story not just for Jerusalem and for this part of the world, but for everybody watching today. I'll have more Jerusalem this hour for now though let's get back to John Vause in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, covering what are these massive wildfires, John.
VAUSE: Becky, thank you. Authorities here in California, they say they're facing the worst Santa Ana wind conditions they have ever seen. The wind wildfire threat for Thursday is now at a level purple, up from level red. They have never used this purple level before. That is how bad it is right now, they say any fire which starts over the coming hours, it will be uncontrollable and those which are burning will also be uncontrollable; they will not be able to contain these fires.
The biggest and most destructive fire though is burning to the north of Los Angeles in Ventura County. The fire there has spread across 90,000 acres since Monday, almost 200 homes there have been destroyed, but they are still waiting to do an official assessment, they haven't been able to get into many of these areas. Once they have that assessment that number of destroyed homes and buildings is expected to rise significantly.
Just to the west of me here though, just behind me over that ridge is the neighborhood of Bel Air, the very exclusive, very wealthy neighborhood of Bel Air, that's where the Skirball fire has burning into that, five percent contained right now. Earlier on Wednesday, firefighters did manage to stop the progression of the fire, but not before it had swept across hundreds of acres and destroyed a number of homes as well.
Also just behind me, the 405 Freeway, this is where the fire jumped over the freeway onto the other side, to that hill over there early Wednesday morning. It was a terrifying scene to so many commuters, so many early people -- early drivers who were heading out to work, some of them said that they could touch the windscreens or the windows of their cars and it was hot to touch. Keep in mind this is one of the busiest freeways in the United States and because of the fire threat, it was forced to close for about nine hours in both directions at one point. Let's go live now to Sara Sidner, she is in that neighborhood of Bel Air and Sara there was a relative lull on Wednesday with those wind speeds and fire crews used that time preparing for this moment when these wind gusts are expected to pick up once again, building defensive lines trying to ring the blaze. How far did they get along with that progress? Are they ready I guess for what's yet to come?
SARA SIDNER: Yes I mean look there are a lot of fires burning and so there are a lot of crews, fire crews that are stretched very thin, but for example here you will see that they weren't able to save this home, they weren't able to save the home next to it, but they have saved so many homes here in Bel Air. At one point 700 people were evacuated and we know that the fire crept down the canyons and really just missed homes, both at the top of canyons and at the bottom because of the aerial drops that they've been able to do throughout the day and they are still doing tonight. And if you just take a look there, I mean they're still trying to make sure -- one of the biggest things is that hotspots have to be contained because these embers -- when these winds pick up can travel a mile and start a fire and it's so fast you wouldn't believe how quickly some of these embers can just set something else ablaze and so what they've been doing all day, since early this morning, is trying to make sure that anything that did catch on fire is contained and does not move on to another part of the neighborhood.
We're talking about 11 homes that have been damaged in Bel Air, which is an exclusive part of Southern California and we're talking about four destroyed, that though is nothing compared to what is happening in the Ventura fire where there are more than 150 homes that have been destroyed there and there is a wall of fire, they're still trying to contain. But the forward progress of this fire had been stopped for bit, they are unable to stop it now and the winds are picking up, the gusts coming through right now, you can certainly feel them and this is what they feared, worried about those intense Santa Ana winds that usually come through in October and here we are in December and now there are four fires burning out of control, John.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN HOST: Sara thank you, we appreciate you being with us live. We appreciate the update, looking at the very latest now from CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Mike Mohler he joins us on the line. Mike again, thank you for being with us we appreciate your time. For you right now which fire is the biggest concern?
MIKE MOHLER, CAL. FIRE BATTALION CHIEF: You know really at this point all of them are concerns because if you look at the one the acreage and the size, but we normally have 5 percent containment on these on all of these four large fires. So, what we're looking at right now is that extreme wind is suppose to pick up again through this evening into tomorrow where we're going to see some of the strongest of this wind event. So, all of them are concerns because we have a lot of open fire line that again is going to be tested by this wind.
VAUSE: Well you had those wind gusts the 80 mile per hour wind gusts and more. You talked to the firefighters, you talked the experts they say you just can't fight a fire in those kind of conditions. So, what's the strategy here for the next few days?
MOHLER: Well the strategy and I mean we have been doing it from the start of all the fires. We call it Fire Front Following. We cannot get in front of this, we can't stop it when it's wind driven, but what we can do is flank it, kind of steer it where we to, but our priority is live and property.
And really what our firefighters are going to be doing along with law enforcement is following where this goes, but getting out ahead of it. Getting these structures and doing what we call structure defense, but the priority is to make sure that people are out of this area and again for your viewers and here and these fires. If you are asked to evacuate do so immediately because you cannot outrun these fires.
VAUSE: Have you got a timeframe on when you expect the worst to be over?
MOHLER: Well, what were looking at and again were cautiously optimistic. Mother Nature she's writing the rulebook on this one, unfortunately. But we're looking for the (inaudible) late into Thursday evening and hoping for the die down on Friday where we can really get in there and start doing some - some direct attack, but working with the weather service we're looking at another high pressure that could move in at the beginning of the weekend into early next week. But really we're looking at the (inaudible) Thursday late night early morning into Friday.
VAUSE: Very quickly Mike December wildfires in California they aren't unheard of, but it's extremely rare and nothing like we've seen this year.
MOHLER: That - and that is a great point, yes Santa Ana winds in December are not uncommon. Santa Ana to this strength and this duration is very uncommon. We haven't seen something like this in over a decade and unfortunately with the drought that we just came out of we have drought (striction) fuels, extreme winds, low humidity's in this duration is what has caused these fires.
VAUSE: OK Mike, we'll leave it there, but we appreciate your time. Mike Mohler there CAL FIRE's battalion chief with the very latest, thanks Mike. We'll take a short break here on CNN. When we come back we'll have the very latest from a demand by U.S. law makers to Donald Trump Junior about that meeting he had back in June last year with the Russian linked lawyer and a whole lot of others. Apparently his appearance at another Congressional hearing didn't go over so well. You're watching CNN.
SESAY: Hello, everyone. President Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was just one element in a very busy day in U.S. politics. Donald Trump Jr. sent out before (ph) the House Intelligence Committee, refusing to answer questions about what he and his father discussed after a Junes 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. Trump Jr. cited a attorney client privilege.
A whistleblower claims that during Mr. Trump's inauguration, incoming national security advisor Michael Flynn texted a business associate saying a plan to partner to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East was good to go and sanctions in Moscow would be ripped up. And also -- as I say, it was a busy day. Democratic Senator Al Franken will make an announcement Thursday. And may the (ph) growing calls from fellow senators for him to step down.
A number of women have accused Franken of sexual harassment. Joining me here in L.A. is political commentator and radio host, Mo'Kelly and Republican strategist, Chris Faulkner. Welcome to you both. Thank you for being with us. Gentlemen, when Mr. Trump made this announcement on Wednesday amongst the things he said to justify it was that this was a good move for U.S. interests and that it was also good for the peace process.
I guess the question is, Chris, how does this advance U.S. interests?
CHRIS FAULKNER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well at some point, we have to stop being ambiguous, really, about who our allies and who our friends are. United States already is spending close to $400 million -- $400 million a year funding the Palestinian authority, trying to help the Palestinians establish a better lives for themselves.
And I think that our reticence (ph) and our ambiguity in the past over our status with Israel has quite frankly led to some misgivings about the peace process. So hopefully with President Trump's strong statement, what we're really going to see is people understanding now really where we stand as a nation and our foreign policy and who our friends and who they are.
SESAY: OK. Mo, before you weigh in, you know, President Trump has said, you know, he believes this will make the peace process, you know, a better process, if you will or they will (ph) actually kick start it so to speak. But then by this evening, we're hearing from White House officials saying it's being derailed. One senior official saying to CNN temporarily, I hope.
OK, that's the White House position, temporarily, they hope. But I want you to take a listen to Hanan Ashrawi. She is a PLO Executive Committee member, the Palestine Liberation Organization Committee member. Take a listen to what she said this means for the peace process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANAN ASHRAWI, PALESTINIAN LEGISLATOR: It means they -- the death knell of the -- any peace process and the destruction of the chances of peace in the region. It is -- in one blow, President Trump has destroyed not only their chances of peace but the stability and security of the region as a whole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Hanan Ashrawi saying it's destroyed the prospect (ph) of peace and potentially putting regional security at jeopardy, at risk. Mo, many saying this is all about fulfilling a campaign promise. I guess the question is, is that worth derailing the peace process? Even the White House has said it has been derailed, if only temporarily. MO KELLY, RADIO HOST: No, Chris was spot on. This is about
identifying about who are our allies and who are our enemies. And this president, I think, has been consistent in making it clear that the people of the Middle East are not our allies, or at least how he presents himself in our foreign policy. The timing of this was dubious, if you think want to move forward with any type of Middle East peace.
But when you look at it not in a vacuum but in the totality, when you have the -- the travel ban decision come down this week, it sends the message that the people of the Middle East are not our friends and he's not trying to be friends with them. So yes, then the Middle East is going to respond in kind with their protests and the (ph) feeling that this is not about peace.
SESAY: There's so much to discuss on the front -- on the Jerusalem front but we have to shift gears and go to the other branch of government, which would be Congress. Because I want to get in the fact that a seventh woman has come out and accused Al Franken of sexual misconduct. And it would appear that seven was the one too many. Because by the end of Wednesday, we had some 32 senators come out and say Franken has to go.
It was all kicked off by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Take a listen to what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP):
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, NEW YORK SENATOR: Obviously, there are new allegations today and enough is enough. You need to draw a line in the sand and say, none of it is OK. None of it is acceptable and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard, not a lower standard. I do not feel that he should continue to serve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Chris, what do you make of the way that the Democrats have handled all of this and now everyone's found a voice?
FAULKNER: It would be easy as a Republican who literally has campaigned in Minnesota against Senator Franken, it would be very easy for me to jump on this bandwagon and say run this guy out. Let's kick him out right now. But, it is a dangerous precedent.
As much as all of us -- I think nobody would disagree, the better accountability for people's actions and behaviors, especially in terms of women in the workplace, this is all a good progress. We run a very dangerous risk of going to a system where there's no due process for those accused and I think that's really dangerous for us to go to.
Seven women, eight women, you made the point and it's good, is -- what six wasn't enough? And it's a slippery slope. I'd like to see Senator Franken, and quite frankly anyone accuse of any wrong doing, get their due process. I don't think he should resign unless he is ready to admit culpability and guilt. SESAY: Where would you stand on this issue and also the fact that
some people are saying, there's a double standard at play when it comes to how Democrats responded to Senator Franken versus John Conyers. (Inaudible) that rule sent out on Tuesday. What's your thought on that?
KELLY: I wouldn't say the D is for double standard, I would say the D is for dumb Democrat. I don't understand why in the world the Democrats would hold themselves to a different standard than they hold their own Republican counterparts.
What is the bar here? Is the bar accusation, number of accusations? If you're going to call for the ouster or the resignation of Al Franken, then you must, if principle is the guide, call for the ouster or resignation of the President. If it has to do with whether someone has admitted fault, well John Conyers has not admitted fault. There needs to be some sibilance of consistency in our national discussions and the Democrats don't have it.
SESAY: Well, Chris?
FAULKNER: He's right. There is no consistency there. It's--
SESAY: And is this about the President, what does it mean?
FAULKNER: What does it mean in terms of the President? I -- my first statement is still the true statement. Everyone deserves due process, everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt until they've been proven guilty. As with Senator Franken, whether it's John Conyers or any of things, Congressman Conyers was also looking at a "Playboy" on a flight in 2010 while sitting in coach flying from D.C. to Detroit. So, I'm not really sure his behavior has always been the most ethical or the most certainly represented--
KELLY: "Playboy" is unethical?
FAULKNER: No, in terms of his behavior and maybe his attitude towards women. What he wants to do in his private time is certainly his business, but I guess what I'm saying is, as a representative of his district, he's absolutely set the wrong tone, even before any of these accusations. And let's remember too, he also paid, used taxpayer dollars to pay people that were actually accusing him and he did file the settlement.
SESAY: Do you see the difference Mo?
KELLY: Only if we're going to exclude Farenthold from this conversation, Congressman Farenthold of Texas, who used taxpayer money to pay for a settlement. We're still lacking -- and I'm not blaming you, I'm just saying, in our larger discussion, we're lacking that consistency as far as how we are going to approach these individuals and how and where we define fault.
SESAY: Very quickly, I've got to get into the fact that Donald Trump, Jr. was on Capitol Hill, as you all know and seeing to House investigators, the main focus, that July 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where Don Jr. and we know Kushner was there and that Russian lawyer.
Eventually, there's a question asked of him basically, what did you discuss with your father? He says that basically, his father wasn't kept abreast at the meeting. At the time, he spoke to him afterwards, but he said that is covered by attorney, client privilege.
Chris, we've had a number of legal minds on CNN on a Wednesday saying, no, that's not how this works. Client -- attorney, client privilege. What do you make of the way Donald Jr. handled all of this today, because what we think, this is not the end of the matter.
FAULKNER: Well, I'm not an attorney and I would agree with you, it's not the end of the matter. I think that there's been a clear precedent from Mueller and his team, that they're out to get his skin. They're out to get somebody. They're out and they're going to find somebody and they're going to make an example of somebody, whether it's done, Donald Trump, Jr. is someone else with the campaign that there's been a lot of things that the DOJ has been very inconsistent about in terms of this investigation. And it's unfortunate because these accusations are extremely serious. We should take them seriously, but again, as with the sexual misconduct, people are going to be basically assumed guilty without any kind of due process and it's just very unfortunate.
SESAY: Mo, what do you say to that? Some would say the lack of transparency adds to this image of a White House trying to hide something.
KELLY: Donald Trump, Jr. is going to get all the due process he wants coming forward, because he's begging for a subpoena from Robert Mueller. The fact that he would not answer that question in front of Congress, that if they're in Congressional investigation, only means that Robert Mueller will find a way to have him answer it to him, himself.
SESAY: Mo Kelly, Chris Faulkner, a pleasure. Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: All right. A quick break here in a moment. More reaction to U.S. President announcement on Jerusalem. Plus firefighters in California once again trying to contain destructive wildfires. See why dry condition mix with fierce winds are making a bad situation so much worse.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: SESAY: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson live for you in Jerusalem. A city that's waking up to a new political reality on the heels of what was this major announcement from U.S. President Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well to some, that announcement was in keeping with a campaign promise to others, it's the recognition of a long-held reality and to others more, it is more evidence that the United States has its thumb on this scale when it comes to negotiating Middle East peace. Well the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. says United States will not take sides on ownership of the Eastern and Western parts of the City of Jerusalem. Still, senior White House officials acknowledge the move has temporarily they say derailed the peace process. And the U.N. Security Council is scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss the decision. Internationally, the criticism of President Trump's announcement has been widespread with one notable exception. CNN's Michael Holmes filed this report.
TRUMP: It is time official recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Despite words of warning and caution from around the world, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A move lauded by Israel's prime minister.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We're profoundly grateful for the president for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the U.S. Embassy here. This decision reflects the president's commitment to an ancient but enduring truth to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.
[02:35:05] HOLMES: But few, if any others among the staunchest critics, the Palestinians. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the move will help extremist and disrupt peace in the region. Turkey also quick to condemn the move. Calling it irresponsible and against international law. Russia, China, Germany, and many others have expressed concern about the move. French President Emmanuel Macron also calling into question its legality.
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (via translator): This is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and which goes against international law and all the U.N. Security Council Resolutions.
HOLMES: President Trump says the U.S. remains committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement acceptable to both side but the U.N. acknowledged uncertainty around the issue and stressed the importance of a two-state solution.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL: In this moment of great anxiety I want to make it clear there is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no plan B. It is only by realizing the vision of two states living side by side in peace, security, and mutual recognition with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine and all final status issues resolved permanently through negotiations that the legitimate aspirations of both peoples will be achieved.
HOLMES: The world and the region gripped by tension as leaders navigate what the announcement may mean in the long-running Israeli/Palestinian conflict and their places within it. Michael Holmes, CNN.
ANDERSON: Well, Victor Kattan a senior research fellow at the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore. He joins me now from there. And Sir, despite coordinated Arab condemnation of this move by Donald Trump as provocative and dangerous, the reaction on the street has been muted. That doesn't mean to say that it will stay that way. We'll need to watch Friday prayers. But the question is, what should be the next move by Palestinians at this point?
VICTOR KATTAN, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: Well the Palestinians have -- well, eight members of the U.N. Security Council have called an emergency meeting. The Security Council tomorrow, there's been emergency summits called at the organization of Islamic cooperation and at the Arab League. Palestinian have been speaking out to news media. So they're making their position clear that they see this move by President Trump as pre-judging the final status of Jerusalem as a shared capital to be negotiated by the Israelis and Palestinians directly.
ANDERSON: Well, as one commentator here in one of the local dailies put it, Donald Trump gives nothing away for free. So as the Palestinians and Arabs begin to put their next move together as it were, what price do you think the U.S. President will now exact from the Israelis?
KATTAN: Well, one hopes that the price he might exact is perhaps a recognition that the Palestinians have a claim to east Jerusalem. He hasn't mentioned much about the U.S. consulate general in eastern side of the city which is separate to the move -- the embassy move from Tel Aviv. So perhaps, we don't know, that could be potentially a U.S. Embassy to the future Palestinian states. But he didn't say much about -- apart from saying this is consistent list to the vision of two states. So that leaves -- that leaves some room for future talks but unless he comes out quickly and makes that clear it doesn't look too good.
ANDERSON: All right. So I guess that begs this question. When the dust settles, does this recognition of reality as Donald Trump put it provide scope for Middle East peace despite the naysayers insisting the peace process is dead and buried or is exactly that, dead and buried?
KATTAN: Well, some people have said it's been the peace process has been dead and buried for a while. The problem is this idea of recognizing realities, it doesn't address the issue of legality. I mean, Israel's states in East Jerusalem is not different to the Golan Heights or Russia's status in Crimea or other troubled spots around the world. So this one is just talking about the reality of how big states controlling territory.
[02:40:00] Then by recognizing this, this could -- this could cause problems. It's not just in the Middle East but also in other parts of the world, which is why everyone is calling for negotiated settlement bearing in mind that East Jerusalem -- the U.N. Security Council has been very clear about the status of East Jerusalem. Most recently last December when it called for no changes to the 1967 borders which is binding on all members of the United Nations including the U.S.
ANDERSON: Analysis for you here on CNN on what is an incredibly important story not just to this city of Jerusalem but to this wider Middle East region. Still to come on this show. Firefighters in California are once again trying to contain destructive wildfires. See why dry conditions mixed with fierce winds are making what is a bad situation so much worse.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. We're here on the outskirts of what's known as the Skirball fire essentially sweeping through the very upscale neighborhood of Bel-Air. It was originally referred to as the Getty fire. That's because the Getty Museum, the famed Getty Museum is just a few miles to the south. It's not under threat but even if it was a spokesman says the Getty is the safest place in the world for art collection and that's because the building has been designed with a fire emergency in mind. It's made from travertine stone and metal plates, plants with high water content surround the building.
There's an air filtration system which keeps the smoke out of the building. And for good measure, there's a million gallons of water on site as well. That's why the work is staying put, it's not being moved into vaults. Behrens estimated back in 2014 that the collection of artworks and manuscripts, antiquaries all up worth $6.6 billion. By far though, one of the worst fire is to the north of here. The Thomas Fire in Ventura County. The last word we had from officials it has now grown to 90,000 acres since Monday. Thousands have been forced from their home. And of course, hundreds of buildings have been destroyed or badly damaged. With the latest now from CNN, Paul Vercammen.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This fire, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, a monster of a fire. 90,000 acres burned, only five percent contained. One of the active flanks here near the Pacific Ocean. This is northwest of Ventura. This fire is moving slowly, it's not threatening Carpinteria or Santa Barbara but is moving toward the Santa Barbara county line. And if you look off to the right, you can see it seems that every single hillside is ablaze. It's a difficult situation on this flank of the fire because you can't send firefighters up into those canyons on top of those ridges to fight the fire with hoses and shovels and what not they have to let it burn down towards the Pacific Ocean.
One of the things that they're hoping is that this fire does not become so intense that it sends up a lot of burning embers and ash that of course, can land on roofs. And there are some very expensive oceanfront homes not too far from here. The forecast for the next few days is for more Santa Ana winds, that's of course, the last thing of the firefighters want. Now, they have confirmed that 150 structures burned but they didn't update the number. They gave us some context on that. They said the reason it has not risen, is not so much that more structures didn't burn. Is that they have not been able to do what they call proper damage assessment. That means they've been so focused on fighting this huge fire, that they haven't gone into the neighborhoods to properly count just how many homes were lost. They say that number is sure to go up. One thing they say is a silver lining, so far, despite this giant swath that has been burned up in Ventura County, there have not been any fatalities on this fire. Back to you now.
[02:46:22] VAUSE: Paul, thank you. Let's go to Derek Van Dam now, the CNN weather center in Atlanta. Derek, the focus has been on those Santa Ana winds, that is the immediate threat. But there is also a very big concern about air quality across a very wide region here.
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEROLOGIST: Yes, you can imagine burning that much acreage and what that does to the air pollution at the air quality index. In fact, this is something you don't see every day. Santa Barbara's air quality index that measures the quality of our air is actually worse than that of Beijing, the city that we talk about so frequently having such high levels of pollution, especially in the winter months.
Now, this satellite image are actually an image taken from the international space station. So, we're talking 12 kilometers in the sky as this w tweeted by a NASA Astronaut Randy Brisnik. And you can see the thick billowing, almost choking smoke from the Thomas fire that's burning across Ventura County, very close to Santa Barbara.
Now, that Thomas fire has consumed over 90,000 acres. We convert that in the square kilometers, and that is two times the size of the city of Milan. Now, this is going to get worse before it gets better because this ridge of high pressure, it's strengthening. We don't like to see that in the middle of December because it funnels the Santa Ana winds offshore. They're going to pick up in intensity overnight and last right through Thursday before temporarily dying down into Friday morning, and then picking up once again.
Now, this high pressures also preventing rain from entering the region, so, it is going to stay bone dry for the next several days if not weeks. John, back to you.
VAUSE: Okay, Derek. Let's hope that changes for the better. Earlier, I spoke with Felicia Waldman, her name has not far from the Getty Museum. She is more than 100,000 residents his under a mandatory evacuation.
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FELICIA WALDMAN, RESIDENT FORCED TO EVACUATE: Yes, it was. It's been an absolutely just harrowing day for my family. We were jolted out of bed at 6:00 a.m. by two friends calling us to look out our backyard, which overlooks the, Floral Drive, the Getty Center, and a lot of Bel Air Crest, which is actually on fire right now. And the flames were rig in our backyard and, you know, it was just incredibly scary because yesterday the fires were burning north of us, and the smell was intense. All over Los Angeles, everybody is just dying from the smell of fire and school have been canceled as a result.
But looking out in our backyard, we started to panic, and we just started grabbing things. And we did know we had to wake our kids, and I have a small dog, I have two 11-year-olds and -- I'm sorry one 11year old and two 17-year-olds. Then, you know, I had to tell them to basically pack a bag and we had to leave. And it's just been the scariest day of our life and we feel very lucky that nothing has happened yet, but like you were just saying, the wind forecast is completely scaring us because it's apparently going to be unprecedented winds. And anything can happen at this point because we're still very close to the fire.
So, we're just crossing our fingers and praying and, you know, there's nothing we can do at this point, it's very scary. We've known people that have lost homes, and the fires are just -- you can't even imagine. We had a few moments where we thought things were calming down, but now we're hearing the weather report about the wind that's coming between now and Saturday, and anything can happen at this point.
So, we actually -- they -- we were able to come home again for a short while and, you know, we grabbed a few more things. But, l mean really when it comes down to it, it's just our family that we care about, and our photos, and you know, there's nothing else you can do. Everything can be replaced, but it's devastating. And I wanted to check on an elderly neighbor, I wanted to make sure that she was aware of the evacuation, and I guess apparently she is.
But it's just really scary right now with the wind is absolutely roaring, and we keep hearing the airplanes and helicopters going by. I mean, I guess they're doing water drops and surveying the situation, but it's definitely just been -- just a crazy day. And at the same time, you know, on a side note, I know this is on International CNN, but if I could thank these hundreds of people that have reached out to me and offer their homes and their support and their love and their considerate, you know, just caring about us and hoping we're OK. It's just been -- you know, on that end, it's just been incredible but, you know, it's just a very, very scary day.
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[02:51:12] VAUSE: Yes, Felicia Waldman, there speaking a little earlier. We will take a short break now. When we come back, the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sparked international outrage. We'll take a closer look at why this city is just so significant to the three major religions.
SESAY: President Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem has brought strong outrage from Palestinians, the European Union, and the Arab world. Many now worry this move will destabilize the peace process that was at best already down for the count. Ahead of the Wednesday announcement, even the pope added his voice to the course of global leaders warning the U.S. President against making such a move. Without directly naming Mr. Trump, Pope Francis said moving the embassy would fan the flames of the conflict.
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POPE FRANCIS, POPE, CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): I cannot hide my deep concern about the situation that has developed in the last days. I pray that wisdom and prudence can prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, for more now on the impact of President Trump' decision, we're joined by CNN Religion Commentator Father Edward Beck. Father Beck, thank you for being with us.
FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: Sure.
SESAY: So, Jerusalem is held in the hearts of Muslims, Christians, and Jews with great religious importance. Can you explain to our viewers why that is?
BECK: Well, historically it's always been really the center for the religions. Remember, you have the holiest of religious sites right there in the old city. You have the temple mount in the old city, which is sacred to the Jews because it is believed that the ancient temples were all there. You have the Dome of the Rock, the third most important site. In Islam, that mosque there. And then, of course, you have the Holy Sepulchre, the place of the resurrection of Christ there as well.
So, you see, you have all of the religious denominations who hold that place as revered and sacred. So, by saying it belongs to one group over another causes this tension.
SESAY: You know, there were times when the conversation about Jerusalem, you know, is in danger of reducing it to a kind of historical or political abstraction. But the reality is this is a place where people of all faith live and work. And this is a place -- this is a real place, it's a -- it's a real (INAUDIBLE). What impact will this decision by President Trump have on day to day life there in your view?
[02:55:11] BECK: Well, we should know, of course, that day to day life of Palestinians, 300,000 of them live there, is already difficult. There was a wall that was built and their checkpoints that Palestinian had to go through just to move about the old city.
And remember, then, after 1967, when Israel annexed, the old -- the eastern part of Jerusalem where most of the Palestinians were. The Palestinians have considered themselves to be an occupied territory always hoping that they could have that part of Jerusalem back for their capital.
When perhaps there was a two-State solution to conflict there. And so, now, by this move, although, again, it's really symbolic. But for President Trump to say he's going to move the embassy there, finally after all of the Presidents since 1995 have just signed a waiver. A six-month waiver say they're not going to do that so that it could be part of peace process negotiation. For Trump to say he's now going to do that, is a slap in the face for the Palestinians and many who are saying that Jerusalem must be part of the peace negotiation if there is to be lasting peace.
SESAY: Father Beck, there have been mutterings ahead of this decisions since this decision is actually, you know, formally be made. That this move on a part of the U.S. administration could spark a holy war between Christianity and Islam. What goes through your mind when hear that?
BECK: I think that might be a bit extreme. I don't think we're at that point. But I think, we don't need anything to fan the flames of conflicts right now. Certainly between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. What we want to do is bring people together, not cause them to further separate.
And remember, Israel controls Jerusalem right now. And so, I don't think there's a lot of room there for much major conflict because Israel is controlling the area. But if they want lasting peace and if they want border security, I think that part of the peace negotiation has to be, how do you co-exist together with a two-state solution, sharing Jerusalem, because it is holy and revered to many groups. And I think that this process now, what President Trump has initiated symbolically by saying he's going to move the embassy there does not help the situation at all.
SESAY: We should be watching to see what happens in the hours and days ahead. Father Beck, always a pleasure speaking to you, thank you.
BECK: Thank you.
SESAY: And you've been watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isha Sesay, live in Los Angeles. The news continues with Rosemary Church in Atlanta after this very short break. You're watching CNN.