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Violence Escalates after U.S. Jerusalem Decision; Trump Presidency; Battle against ISIS; California Wildfires; France Pays Tribute to Rock Icon Johnny Hallyday. Aired 2-2:15a ET

Aired December 10, 2017 - 02:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, everyone. I'm Cyril Vanier at CNN Headquarters. Great to have you with us. Thanks for joining us.

Tensions mount in the Middle East after the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Palestinian officials say four people have been killed in Gaza. Two were killed in clashes between Israeli troops and protesters on Friday and two others were killed by Israeli airstrikes on Saturday.

Israel says its aircraft targeted Hamas after rockets were fired at Israeli territory. There's also been political fallout from the Jerusalem decision. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is set to visit the region later this month.

however, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas will not meet with him. And Egyptian state media now says the Coptic Church will also snub Pence.

Donald Trump has been both praised and criticized for his Jerusalem decision. It's a clear break with past administrations, that's for sure. But the status quo has never led to long-term Palestinian- Israeli peace. Here's CNN's Nic Robertson on whether Mr. Trump's gamble can pay off.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Clashes like these in the past few days, stone-throwing Palestinian youths goading well-armed Israeli security forces, a part of what world leaders openly worried might happen following President Trump's announcement, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Their fears weren't misplaced. There have been casualties.

ROBERTSON: Yet this is only a partial picture. Many of the Palestinian protests have been relatively peaceful and, overall, have lacked the scale and zeal of past Palestinian actions.

But although it is way too soon to know how all of this is going to turn out, it raises the question: can President Trump capitalize on his announcement?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: We're profoundly grateful for the president, for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem...

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Israelis from the prime minister on down have been gushing in their praise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good step forward toward peace.

TRUMP: When I came into office...

ROBERTSON (voice-over): On lawmaker suggested Trump's name should be carved into Judaism's sacred Western Wall. Another said he'd name a park after Trump.

ROBERTSON: Of course there has been much speculation about why Trump made the announcement. His critics say it was just to fulfill a campaign promise. Yet the careful framing by the White House and the positive Israeli response perhaps gives Trump leverage other U.S. presidents lacked.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Throughout the region, pro-Palestinian protesters have united to say Trump is biased towards Israel and the U.S. can't be a fair peace talks negotiator.

The Palestinians' chief negotiator told CNN, Trump had effectively shut down talks for a two-state solution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump made the biggest mistake of his life.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): At the Palestinian protests, I talked to people who said this, too. But they also told me they aren't happy with their own leadership.

GEORGE ASSAD, CHRISTIAN CONSULTANT: I think the leadership has had many opportunities in terms of a wake-up call and they haven't listened to the street. I hope that it is a wake-up call for them to pursue a different course of action.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Frustrations hang in part on Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. His post-Trump statement was seen as weak.

But also with regional leaders...

AHMAD TIBI, PALESTINIAN MP: Some of the Arab states are not -- are acting in a very vigorous and obvious way. The statement was dangerous. The reaction should be strong.

ROBERTSON: Helping Israelis and Palestinians find peace has been one of the bigger challenges for recent American presidents. It's bedeviled the best minds and negotiators, the U.S. has been able to muster. Too soon to say if Trump's gamble, against advice and orthodoxy, will pay off -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Jerusalem. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Meanwhile, President Trump honored civil rights heroes at the opening of a civil rights museum in Mississippi on Saturday. Mr. Trump tweeted this: "We pay solemn tribute to our heroes of the past and dedicate ourselves to building a future of freedom, equality, justice and peace."

Some civil rights leaders say the president's policies simply run counter to that future and dishonor the past. Athena Jones explains.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hi, there. President Trump spent about 40 minutes here at the museum, touring the facility. He saw an exhibit on the Freedom Riders, who helped desegregate the interstate bus system.

He also saw an exhibit on Medgar Evers, the civil rights activist who was assassinated right here in Jackson in --


JONES (voice-over): -- 1963. And then he delivered brief remarks, lasting about 10 minutes, to a small group that accompanied him in the museum.

We're talking about civil rights veterans, museum patrons and elected officials. Listen to some of what he had to say.

TRUMP: The civil rights museum records the oppression, cruelty and injustice inflicted on the African American community to fight to end slavery, to break down Jim Crow, to end segregation, to gain the right to vote and to achieve the sacred birthright of equality. Here --


TRUMP: That's big stuff. That's big stuff. Those are very big phrases, very big words. Here we memorialize the brave men and women who struggled to sacrifice and sacrificed so much so that others might live in freedom.


JONES: So there you heard the president honoring a civil rights activist, honoring those who fought to end slavery, fought for their right to vote, people he called American heroes.

But one of the big criticisms that we're hearing from folks who decided to skip this event, including the head of the NAACP and U.S. congressman Bennie Thompson from right here in Mississippi, and John Lewis, the Georgia representative who is a civil rights icon, they say that Trump's inclusion in today's event is an insult to the very people being honored in this museum.

They have a long list of grievances. Overall, they say the president hasn't been a defender of civil rights and he's been criticized in the past for racial insensitivity. Some activists have pointed out the fact that he questioned the legitimacy of America's first black president.

They also mentioned that he has endorsed the Alabama Senate candidate, Roy Moore, who, when asked when America was last great, talked about the era of slavery. He said families were more united, even though there was slavery.

John Lewis and Bennie Thompson, in their statement, highlighted the fact that the president has been bashing NFL players, mostly black football players, who have been kneeling to protest racial inequality.

And several folks also brought up the Voter Integrity Commission the president has set up, they believe is a veiled effort to suppress votes.

So those are some of the criticisms that face the president here, along with about 100 protesters who turned their backs on the motorcade -- Athena Jones, CNN, Jackson, Mississippi.


VANIER: Swedish police are looking for several people who threw burning objects at a synagogue late Saturday. Police told CNN affiliate Expressen TV (ph) that some of those objects were Molotov cocktails. The attack took place in the city of Gothenberg (ph). No one was injured, fortunately, and firefighters put out the flames before the building was damaged.

Celebrations in Baghdad on Saturday. Iraqis waved flags, honked horns to mark ISIS being driven from the country. The Iraqi military says it has both fully liberated Iraq from what it called ISIS terrorist gangs and retaken full control of the Iraqi-Syrian border.

In a televised speech, Iraq's prime minister said the dream of liberation is now reality. ISIS' dream, on the other hand, has come to an end.


HAIDER AL-ABADI, PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQ (through translator): Today our troops were able to purge the islands of Nineveh and Anbar in full.


AL-ABADI (through translator): And they are now fully controlling the Iraqi -Syrian borders.


AL-ABADI (through translator): These victories are not only for the Iraqis alone, though the Iraqis were themselves to achieve such victories with their sacrifices, but the victories are for all Arabs, Muslims and the world alike. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: And the mission to drive ISIS out of Iraqi has taken more than three years and some 25,000 coalition airstrikes. British foreign secretary Boris Johnson is in Iran for meetings. Part of the reason he's there is to appeal for the release of jailed British Iranian citizens, including aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. That's her husband right there.

She's been held since April of last year on charges of spreading propaganda, which she denies. Her family and the British government say she was simply spending time with relatives in Iran. On Saturday, Johnson spoke with Iran's Foreign Minister and will hold talks with President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday.

Firefighters are making some progress against six fast moving wildfires in Southern California. The smallest blaze, the Liberty Fire, now 100 percent contained. That's the good news.

But with strong winds expected, the flames could take off again. The six fires have already scorched more than 73,000 hectares; 85 percent of that is just from the rampaging --


VANIER: -- Thomas Fire.

On Saturday California's governor surveyed some of the damage. And he drew a connection between the fires and climate change. He also said that this abnormally long wildfire season is now, quote, "the new normal."

Almost 200,000 residents have been forced to leave their homes and some of them are now able to return but only to find scorched earth and rubble where their neighborhoods and where their homes used to stand. CNN's Kyung Lah has the latest from Ventura, California.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is what the Thomas fire in Ventura County, California, did just to one neighborhood. You can see that there are cars still in the driveway. And what remains of a house, just rubble.

The fire pushed through this community, burning house after house; just where we're standing, we can see more than half a dozen houses on this block alone. Firefighters extremely concerned about the deteriorating conditions and trying to prevent more people from losing so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lifetime, couple lifetimes. Like I said, they're 84, 83, my mom and dad. They have been living here for 30 years, they built it themselves. There is not much. But if there is a few things that will help them, you know, have some connection to the past, then that's what I'm trying to do. It is what it is, material stuff but, like you said, memories of a lot

of years. And we'll see where it goes from here. I don't know what they're going to do.

It is a process. It is shock, still shock, still trying to understand.

Little box. It is a little lizard. Don't ask me but, you know what, if it helps, it helps.

Despite all the loss, we're fortunate. We have family close by. We have other options. And, you know, it is material stuff. Other people are doing so much more, have so much more tragedy in their life that we have nothing to complain about. You just got to focus on that. Kind of makes the rest of it easier to deal with.

LAH: Those Santa Ana wind conditions are expected to increase throughout the weekend, especially as the weekend ends, making the job for firefighters even more dangerous. They are trying to fight the flank of the fire as it grows on the northern side.

They say they need this weather forecast to turn around for them -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Ventura, California.


VANIER: And in France, hundreds of thousands of people are paying tribute to rock 'n' roll icon Johnny Hallyday. People lined the streets of Paris to watch the coffin of the French Elvis -- that's how he's sometimes referred to -- he was being escorted down the Champs- Elysees by hundreds of motorcycles.

It's a rare honor, usually reserved for dignitaries. French president Emmanuel Macron said Hallyday was more than a singer, that he was part of France. The Eiffel Tower was lit up with the words "Merci, Johnny."

Hallyday was a household name in France, selling more records than any other singer in a career spanning five decades. Johnny Hallyday died on Wednesday at age 74 from lung cancer.

That's it from us here at CNN NEWSROOM. Up next, "MARKETPLACE AFRICA." Stay with us.