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Examining Middle East Peace Negotiations; Interview With Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired January 22, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My colleagues in the Senate used to always kid me for quoting Irish poets.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): America's new president always recalls his roots. The Irish prime minister, Micheal Martin, joins us on Biden, Brexit and the
new era ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Middle East peace is always a very attractive proposition. It's a very sexy topic.
AMANPOUR: The personal side of making peace. We go behind the scenes of Israeli/Palestinian negotiations with Dror Moreh, director of "The Human
Factor," plus two key players, Aaron David Miller and Gamal Helal.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: What the president was saying right from the get-go, let's reset this, let's everybody get on the same page,
trust each other, let the science speak.
AMANPOUR: Let Fauci be Fauci. As the new White House starts to stamp out COVID, Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to Biden's response team, joins Hari
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Once again, after four years, four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House -- those words from the European Commission president, Ursula
von der Leyen. This week, the E.U. invited President Joe Biden to a summit focused on shared multilateral goals, on COVID and also on the climate.
Biden is eager to repair relations overseas, just as he remains focused on pressing domestic needs, most urgently, COVID and the economy.
It is part of Biden lore that he was born in Pennsylvania, raised in Delaware, and that his ancestral home, Ireland, remains close to his heart.
The Irish prime minister, the Taoiseach, Micheal Martin, welcomed the new American president, saying that he is one of us, part of our global family.
And he's joining me now from Dublin.
Prime Minister, welcome to the program.
So, let me start by saying -- or asking, rather, what does an Irish American president -- obviously, he is not the first -- but what does this
mean for Ireland today.
MICHEAL MARTIN, IRISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, first of all, it is a source of great pride in Ireland that the great-grandson of an Irish immigrant and
Irish immigrants has become president of the United States, of the United States of America, a great democracy.
And there was genuine elation and joy at his elevation this week across the country. There's also a genuine sense of warmth towards President Biden.
People really do appreciate the warmth that he radiates for Ireland in all of his commentary, and, indeed, in his regular quotations of Irish poets.
And indeed, in the aftermath of his success in the election, he spoke to me very warmly, affectionately, almost emotionally about his heritage and the
lessons and values that came down through the generations of an Irish household in Scranton.
And he speaks very fondly of both county Louth in Ireland and County Mayo, where both maternal and paternal great-grandparents came from. And there
just was -- there is a genuineness there. There's a real decency there that comes across. And I think that is very much appreciated by all generations
AMANPOUR: Very quickly, and, personally, I wanted to ask you.
Obviously, there's always an eagerness to be the first international head of state to meet the American president, head of government. Do you think
you will be the first? Are you going to Ireland -- to the White House, rather, for St. Patrick's Day in March?
MARTIN: Well, there had been no decisions made in relation to that.
I did invite President Biden to Ireland. And he rather jokingly said to me, "Try and keep me out."
But in relation to Patrick's Day, of course, that's an honored tradition in Ireland -- sorry -- in the relationship between Ireland and the United
States. Obviously, COVID may very well have an impact on that. So our officials will engage. And we will do what's safe and what's best.
And -- but I do think both of us are very keen to cement that very historic relationship between the United States of America and Ireland, which goes
back through the ages now. It's an important relationship. In the modern era, it has cultural and artistic manifestations. It has economic
And, of course, in the context of Ireland's membership of the European Union, we do see ourselves very much as potential bridge-builders between
the U.S. and the European Union.
AMANPOUR: OK, so that's interesting.
I first want to ask you about COVID, though, because, obviously, President Biden's first priority is to get hold of this coronavirus pandemic as it
affects his country. And you obviously in Ireland and all the other countries have been trying to do the same.
You went from one of the best prepared, one of the best results in Europe, to now one of the highest rates in the world. What happened? And do you
think there are lessons learned? Because, obviously, many say that the loosening up of restrictions over Christmas, allowing everybody to meet,
has put you in a very difficult and dangerous position right now.
MARTIN: Yes, I mean, I think we had been doing very well. We had a very severe lockdown in October/November, for the full month of November, which
did have a very significant impact on bringing the virus levels down.
Prior to that -- we have been on a series of restrictions right throughout last year. And, certainly, the socialization that came with opening up has
been a factor in a very significant spike.
We also have the new U.K. variant of the virus in Ireland, which has also driven numbers. It's now up to about 62 percent of all cases, which is a
worry. And then, of course, the seasonality factor as well, some say, has impacted.
So, we are in a very difficult situation right now in the third wave. But we have immediately gone into lockdown during Christmas week, essentially.
And that is having an impact now in terms of the case numbers coming down significantly, and indeed the close contacts all in the right direction.
However, the pressure on our hospitals and our ICUs is intense. And our front-line workers are performing heroically now at the moment. And I think
we just -- last evening, we had a meeting of the European Union prime ministers, and genuine concern across the continent in terms of potential
damaging impact of new variants, and also this third wave, as the vaccination program has been rolled out in parallel.
So, yet one is always learning lessons throughout this pandemic. It is a deadly virus. It's an evolving virus. We need vigilance. And I think,
globally, we need to work in harmony, in terms of suppressing the virus, because we're not -- we are only safe when everybody is safe across the
MARTIN: And we have to take a global perspective on it. And we appreciate President Biden's leadership on that front.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and that might make a difference. We wait to see that, of course, because the U.S., with its convening power and its ability to
really sort of coordinate a global response, has been sorely missed over the past four years.
But can I ask you, because you mentioned the British variant, the U.K. variant. Today, the British Prime Minister suggested that scientists,
scientific advisers are saying that it could be much more lethal than they at first believed, that they knew it was more spreadable, more
transmissible, but it may be more lethal.
What are you hearing about that? And given how it's affecting your country, what do you think is going to have to be done?
MARTIN: Well, that worries me greatly, because, as you correctly say, the research to date was suggesting it was more transmissible, but that it
wasn't any more damaging from a health perspective than the wild virus.
So, I am concerned about that, because, as I have said, it is becoming the dominant variant in Ireland now in terms of case numbers. And so that is
why we are in a very severe lockdown right now. And we will be continuing those measures for the foreseeable future.
And we will be seeing what else we can do to continue to suppress the numbers. We will also be in touch with British...
AMANPOUR: For instance...
MARTIN: ... scientists, in terms of understanding the latest to emerge. I'm conscious that the British Prime Minister has made that statement this
evening, and we will have to get further information from British science in relation to that.
AMANPOUR: For instance, your own chief medical officer, chief medical adviser, even before this statement about the new variant, suggested that
there needed to be tougher restrictions on travel.
Do you plan to impose border controls to, I don't know, somehow restrict travel to Ireland?
MARTIN: Yes, so it would be for the measures to -- first of all, we are saying to people, please don't travel to Ireland, unless for essential
purposes, right now. And we're saying to Irish people, do not travel outside of Ireland. Don't travel beyond five kilometers.
We have a five-kilometer limit now within the country. So there's no need to be traveling abroad. You shouldn't be, unless for absolutely essential
And, likewise, people who are intending to come into Ireland, you should not really travel right now, unless you have essential purposes for so
But we will be looking at a range of measures on Monday in relation to travel. Already, we have an obligation on anybody traveling into Ireland to
have a PCR-negative test prior to coming in. And failure to do so could result in fines and so on.
But also now quarantining, we're looking at that in terms of the decision on Monday, but also further decisions to restrict travel into the country.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you? Because you mentioned obviously vaccination and the vaccine is the way out of this. And for everybody -- everybody has to
be safe. It can't be just one country or another.
There have been issues with supply, both here in the U.K., which has got quite a good record on vaccinating the population, better -- I 6 six
percent vs. 2 percent in Ireland, but the E.U. is concerned also. It hasn't even approved yet -- and that might not happen until the end of the month -
- the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Do you see any worrying, concerning structural problems with getting the vaccine out in a timely way, again, as they're trying to do in the United
MARTIN: The issue for us is the delivery of the vaccine into the country.
We have been very dependent so far on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. We have some volumes in from Moderna. We are waiting for authorization for
AstraZeneca, which applied for authorization, I think, back on the 11th of January.
And that is due at the end of this month, with a delivery timeline at the moment for mid-February. What we anticipate is that, in quarter two of the
year, the issue will move from being one of vaccine delivery issue to one of administration of the vaccine on a mass population basis.
We have done a lot of preparatory work through our National Task Force and our Health Service executive in relation to detailed plans for mass
vaccination of our population. And we have made some significant advances on that.
The issue right now is getting enough vaccine into the country. By Sunday, we will have vaccinated all the senior residents of our long-term health
care facilities and the staff there, and about half of all front-line health care workers.
We will -- there will be next then to complete that front-line health care workers and then into the over-70 age cohort. But that's very much
dependent on obtaining delivery of the vaccines into the country.
The latter half of the first six months, I think we will have a sufficiency of supply of vaccines. January, February and March, we have not a
sufficiency of vaccine delivery from the companies. Obviously, that's a work in progress.
AMANPOUR: Yes, can I just switch gears now to a pretty huge trauma that your country has undergone?
Just last week, the report on the mother and baby's homes after a five-year investigation came out. And it's truly shocking about the trauma, about the
death that took place over a period of 80 years in those homes around Ireland. Just some of the figures, 9,000 children are known to have died at
these homes funded by the state over that period. Last one closed in 1998.
And we want to show this picture now which is quite shocking and really is -- shows what happened. "The Irish Examiner" the day after the report was
released, look at that, it is full of the names of 900 children who died at just one of these homes. Look at that. Look at those names.
It's really hard to fathom. You did issue an apology. You called it a shameful chapter. But there are many people who don't believe you went far
enough and made it sort of a whole-of-society issue, rather than the church.
Can you tell me -- just tell me where you stand on this.
MARTIN: Well, I'm very clear, and I'm very clear in my apology, and indeed in other statements.
First of all, this was a very shameful chapter in Ireland's history. And the church bears a very heavy responsibility, as does the state. And I made
that clear in my apology. The state did not protect its citizens, did not protect the mothers, or indeed the babies or children who were born in
The very fact that women were stigmatized in such a way was appalling and shocking, and had its roots in a -- in what I would call a perverse moral
code, a perverse attitude to sexuality that really was just impossible -- that is impossible to comprehend, and did enormous damage to people.
And what I did say was that actions speak louder than words. And I'm repulsed by the entire experience. And I think we have to now do everything
we currently possibly can in present-day society to make amends, and in particular to make sure that the mothers and children involved have full
access to information.
And that is a real -- the children born in these homes, they want access to their information. And that, we're going to provide.
We're also going to tell the story nationally in terms of a repository of records, but also to -- in the voices of the survivors and the victims,
that they will tell the story, that future generations would learn of this very shameful part of our history.
And it speaks to the horror of institutionalization as well. And right throughout the decades in the '30s, and the '40s, the high death rates of
babies in these institutions was not commented upon are acted upon by the state. Even though reports were sent back by inspectors and so on, there
was no action taken. And that was wrong.
And I think the...
AMANPOUR: Can I...
MARTIN: ... the role of the religious was equally wrong, and in an appalling way, an appalling cruelty visited on so many people over such a
AMANPOUR: And to that point, I want to play this little bit of an interview from one of the survivors, P.J. Haverty. He was born in one of
the homes, and this is what he said about the report itself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
P.J. HAVERTY, SURVIVOR: I was very annoyed that they came out with this society were the cause and the family were the cause of pushing their women
into the homes here, and that the church and state had nothing got to do with.
And, to me, that's totally wrong, because the priest came down to my mother's house. And he laid down the law. And he was the one that told the
parents to bring her into Tuam here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It is shocking. And, clearly, there are many who don't believe that their trauma has been addressed.
Is there anything more that needs to be done to address complaints by survivors like P.J.?
MARTIN: Yes, I mean, we are also looking at a restorative recognition scheme as well, which is being designed at the moment by a number of
government departments led by our minister for children, Roderic O'Gorman, as I say, to make amends and to recognize the trauma that those born, and
particularly the mothers, that they went through.
And we have been doing that, along with other measures that have been recommended. And we're committed to doing that in an urgent and effective
way, but all the time put the survivor first, listening to the survivor, their concerns, their needs, and, indeed, their desires in terms of making
amends and recognizing what went on for what it was, and also to learn lessons from it in terms of future public policy in relation to a whole
range of issues.
I mentioned institutionalization, the importance of education for all, and particularly those on the margins. And what P.J. said there was correct. I
mean, if you read the report, and particularly the personal testimonies, the priest does loom large and is hugely influential in the earlier
decades. The doctor looms large in terms of going to the home and making arrangements that the young mother would be brought to one of these mother
and baby homes.
And in some instances, the young mother would be -- would have been a victim of rape or incest, and no one, again, raised those very fundamental
moral and legal and criminal issues with anyone in authority. And so it was quite, quite shocking.
And the -- there is no hiding away from that or hiding the role of state or church in this. And reference has been made to broader society. There is a
society context to this as well, but, without question, it's what I feel most when you read through it is just the sort of religious moral code,
this kind of judgmentalism, and the sense of the righteous knowing what's best for everybody.
And it's just morally wrong, what happened, an abomination, in my view, and it really goes to the heart of the story.
AMANPOUR: Well, 9,000, yes.
MARTIN: And -- yes.
Prime Minister Micheal...
MARTIN: Nine thousand deaths is quite shocking. And, again, as I said to you earlier...
AMANPOUR: Yes, 9,000 deaths, yes.
No one commented at -- people didn't raise it in the various decades, particularly in the '40s, where the majority of very high numbers in the
'40s, for example, in the 1940s, and was not -- the state authorities did not intervene to arrest that high mortality rate, much higher than anything
outside of the homes, in terms of infant mortality, and a real act of negligence in respect of those babies and those children.
Prime Minister Micheal Martin, thank you for joining us from Dublin.
Now, some of President Biden's toughest test will come from the Middle East, a very different place than the one he knew as vice president. A
groundbreaking film, "The Human Factor," looks at Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts through the eyes of key American negotiators.
It is not a dry, boring history lesson. It's personal about the people and the humanity, all vital to making peace. Here's a clip from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was history in the making. The idea of breaking through that taboo was just unbelievable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I can see something changes in the relationship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had moved from being adversaries to partners in peace.
YITZHAK RABIN, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: We say to you today, in a loud and a clear voice, enough of blood and tears. Enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Dror Moreh is the Israeli director of this film. He's joining me from Tel Aviv. And also with me are two of the key players featured in the
film, veteran Middle East negotiator for several administrations Aaron David Miller, and the former senior adviser Egyptian American Gamal Helal,
who joins us from Cairo in Egypt.
Welcome both of you to the program -- all three of you, rather.
Dror, can I ask you first, tell us about the title, the name of the film? What did you mean "The Human Factor"?
DROR MOREH, DIRECTOR, "THE HUMAN FACTOR": Well, we tend to think that, normally, in those kind of situation of negotiations, the issues, the
topics are the most important things.
And, for me, going through the hours and hours of interviews, while I was condensing and trying to build the narrative, what came out very, very
vividly is the importance of the human factor, the importance of the personal relationship between the leaders, and how they related to each
So, in a way, the sense of -- we deal with a lot of subject which are very, very tough, Jerusalem, the right of return, the refugees. And at the end of
the day, it's about two people who meet and need to deal with each other and need to reach a deal between themselves.
And I actually wanted to tell the story from the point of view of the professionals, from the people that were there inside the room with the
leaders -- with those leaders as they tried to reach peace. And, for me, the most important thing was, what went wrong?
And what came vividly very, very apparently inside the interviews, and inside the movie is the impact of the human factor.
AMANPOUR: Well, it really does come out vividly. It's an amazing film, and the fact that you got all these negotiators together to talk about it in
ways that we haven't heard before is very revealing.
So, Aaron David Miller, we have talked a lot before on this program. You were one of the senior negotiators for many, many years. Do you agree that
the human factor may not have been there enough? Do you think that the American negotiators had enough empathy, particularly for the Palestinians,
when you were being the so-called third party honest brokers?
AARON DAVID MILLER, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY SPECIAL MIDDLE EAST COORDINATOR: I mean, the humanity with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
perhaps more than any of the conflicts between Israel and the Arab states, I think, is a critically important consideration.
And I think Dror was onto something. Of course, it's national interests, ultimately, that will determine whether or not an agreement is made. But
men and women who factor in that conflict, clearly -- and the role of personality -- is critically important.
As far as the American involvement, I think, frankly, we got too close to both parties. I think we began to see the world the way we wanted it to be,
rather than the way it was.
In a very controversial provocative line in the film, I quoted Henry Kissinger. In his memoirs, he referred to the United States -- or at least
his refusal to become what he called Israel's lawyer.
In my own judgment, I realized all the arguments as to why we needed to adopt a position, particularly because Israel controlled the territory. But
I really do believe, with respect to the human factor, that we needed -- we should have been a lawyer for both sides. Our client needed to be -- needed
to be the agreement.
And we had to be careful not to lawyer for one side or the other. I think we did, in fact, get too close to the Israelis. That may well have been a
function of the fact that they control the territory and our sensibility that we needed, certainly on the security side, to take their requirements
But, with the exception of Gamal, and Rob Malley, who is not here with us today, I think that -- and perhaps Dan Kurtzer, also in the film -- we
really needed, I think, to better understand, what were the needs and requirements of the Palestinian side?
Gamal points out repeatedly that what was important to Palestinians above all was respect. We tried, but I'm not sure we delivered.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask Gamal.
And, actually, that's why I wanted to have Gamal on the program today, because you are one of the rare Arab negotiators in -- or Arab American
negotiators. And you were sort of given the job, so to speak, of keeping the Palestinians on side and being the interface, mostly with them.
So, do you think that the human factor was somewhat missing? Do you agree, because what David Aaron's just said is pretty amazing, that he agrees that
America was too much Israel's lawyer. Did that come across to you as well?
GAMAL HELAL, FORMER SENIOR POLICY ADVISER TO U.S. PEACE NEGOTIATING TEAMS: No, I might disagree with my good friend Aaron Miller on this one.
The issue is that I looked at the human factor at two different levels. One is basically the interrelationship between the negotiators and the leaders
and all of that, trying to find a way out and a solution to a very complicated political problem.
The part which we might have ignored a little bit was the human factor away from the negotiators and the government officials, in other words,
preparing the public in order to be receptive and more supportive and encouraging to the idea of Arab-Israeli peace and all the Palestinian-
But, in general, what we try to do is look at what is possible. And, as Aaron mentioned, yes, Israel controlled the territories, controlled the
land. They have the upper hand. So, the idea of trying to work with the Israelis, and try to find the best possible outcome that might lead to a
solution, it might appear to some people as if we are Israel's lawyers.
But the reality is, we knew what things that could work and what things could not work. And I think the best example we have seen during the last
four years, if you looked at the Trump administration, and the people who were in charge of Arab-Israeli negotiations or Palestinian-Israeli
negotiations, they were all Jewish, they were all trying to basically throw away the elements that the conflict was based on.
And they basically did everything that no Israeli government would ever dreamt of, moving the embassy, sort of like throwing the Palestinian
Authority under the bus, and not recognizing that.
So, if you compare the two, we certainly were not anybody's lawyers. We tried to work with the political elements that we had at the time, with the
human elements that we had to deal with. And we tried to do the best we can.
But there is one element which I think we fell short. We have believed in the idea that no normalization comes before a Palestinian-Israeli
agreement. And I think that was our mistake. And that is where credits are due to the Trump administration, because, although they have not touched or
solved the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but they were able to break the taboo that Arabs and Israelis can actually have normal relationships.
And, at the end of the day, that would lead to the benefit of the Palestinians. Maybe that we were sort of like short on that particular
aspect. And I hope that the Biden administration would focus on this, because the Palestinians don't need a boycott in order to get what they
believe is theirs.
AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to come to that in a bit.
But I want to just re-rack a little bit and as Dror, because I believe, Dror, your birthday is on November 4, which was the day that Yitzhak Rabin
was assassinated in 1995. And with it, many say, went the last greatest hope for a peace deal.
Tell me about Yitzhak Rabin. Tell me about how you featured him in this film, because he really does play one of the most leading roles.
MOREH: Look, for me, the assassination of Rabin was -- meant the beginning of the collapse of all the peace process. And the height of that was in
Camp David, when it collapsed completely.
Rabin was a brave man. He was a leader that was willing to take challenges and take risks for peace. And there is an amazing story which Dennis Ross
is telling in the beginning of the movie, the beginning of the era of Rabin, where he says that he met him just after he became prime minister in
his office, and Rabin tells him that he's willing to go for peace, but he's happy that all his boys, as he calls them, are -- in the army, are with him
in the army, the commanders of the army.
And when Dennis asks him, why is it so important that those men are with you, Rabin gives a chilling answer to that and says, because when I reach
the point where I will have to give the Palestinian what I need to give, I'm afraid there's going to be a civil war.
And he almost predicted exactly what almost happened in Israel where the height of the demonstration against Rabin, the height of the Oslo process,
there was almost a civil war in Israel. And because of that drift, basically, Rabin was assassinated. So, so for me, it was -- I mean, the 4th
of November 1995, my birthday, was really the last day of hope that I had in a way for really trying to achieve peace. And we are downhill from that
day on until today.
AMANPOUR: Well, let's go back to when there was more hope, and that was during the Oslo period. It was when Aaron David Miller and Dennis and Gamal
and Clinton and the Oslo process was, at least, giving some hope. And I want to play a little clip, the only clip that we have from the film that
we can play is actually Dennis Ross, the chief member of the team, talking about how Rabin didn't really have much respect or time for Arafat, until
he did, until he started watching him implement difficult decision that were difficult for the PLO leader to implement under Oslo. And
particularly, there was one instance when there was a bit of an argument about whether there was going to be a Palestinian police headquarters near
the sensitive City of Hebron.
Here's Dennis Ross describing how that was handled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSS: The president has next to the Oval Office a small dining room. So, we go over there. And I explain the issue. And before Rabin can say
anything, Arafat says, whatever is acceptable to the prime minister, just like that. And Rabin looks at me, looks at him and he say, he will have a
police station there. And they shake hands, and that was it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Aaron David Miller, let me ask you about that, because it was really a profound moment. And as Dror says, it's almost like being
downhill ever since the assassination of Rabin. Talk to me about how those two, for a while, had a close relationship or partnership in peace.
MILLER: I mean, Dror and Dennis are right about this, and I know that Gamal would agree that Rabin had a fundamental mistrust of Arafat in the
beginning. And I think he came to the conclusion that the only option, frankly, was a direct negotiation with the PLO. Jordan was not an option
and West Bankers and Gazans were too weak and divided to provide credible interlocketers (ph). But their relationship changed.
And it was, in fact, in response to Rabin's perception whether he ever actually accepted Arafat as a partner is arguable. But he did respect
Arafat's capacity to actually make tough decisions and to do hard things. And there is no doubt that Rabin's murder, Rabin's assassination provided
the critical highpoint, frankly, low point. But until that time, Oslo was on track. And I will be very honest, Christiane, if I could turn back the
clock, and I could change two things --
AMANPOUR: OK. Well, it looks like we may have lost Dennis, and Gamal and Dror. We hope to get them back. We do. We have the others. OK.
Well, let me ask you, Gamal. Let me ask you. I'm going to play this soundbite from actually an interview that I conducted with Jared Kushner in
the Trump version of the Palestinian-Israel peace plan. And this is what he told me about the Palestinians. Just take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: If they screw up this opportunity, which again, they have a perfect track record of missing
opportunities, if they screw this up, I think that they will have a very hard time looking the international community in the face, saying they're
victims, they have rights. This is great deal for them. If they come to the table and negotiate, I think they can get something excellent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Gamal this is before the normalization that you just talked about with the other Arab states and countries. This was about, you know,
the peace process or the Trump peace plan that, as you mentioned, pretty much gave the whole bottle of -- the whole ball of wax to Israel. What do
you make of this constant refrain that Palestinians never miss a chance to miss a chance?
HELAL: Well, there is some truth to this. There were so many opportunities in the past that offered themselves, and the Palestinians did act either
too late or never. I think it all started with President Sadat, in Egypt. Egypt was the foundation for the idea of peace between Israelis and the
And at that time, you probably recall that Camp David won with President Sadat and Begin, put the foundation for a possible Palestinian self-
government. And the number of settlements, obviously, was much, much less. That, an opportunity that was lost. There were so many other opportunities
in the process that were also lost.
But I don't think that this could be the foundation for future possibilities between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I think the
Palestinians have matured and they have learned their lessons. They believe -- and I am in contact with them all of the time, they believe also that
the Clinton parameters were also a missed opportunity. Camp David was a missed opportunity. But they are not the only party to be blamed for Camp
David, the Israelis are equally to be blamed equally for it.
But the point here is that if you wanted to ignore the elements of the conflict that would lead to a conflict resolution between the Palestinians
and the Israelis, then you can do anything that you wanted to do like Mr. Kushner, what Mr. Kushner. But what Mr. Kushner did in terms the of
bypassing the actual conflict, ignoring conflict resolution, ignoring conflict management and simply go into normalization, the country was a
little bit -- the region was a little bit ripe for that. There is also an element of fatigue that some of the Arab countries have been waiting for
the Palestinians for decades, nothing ever moved.
And I think that normalization between Arab countries and Israel will, at the end of the day, benefit the Palestinians and their efforts to reach a
resolution to their conflict.
AMANPOUR: OK. Well, it will be really interesting to see how that unfolds. I wish we had more time to discuss. The film is great. Dror Moreh, Aaron
David Miller, Gamal, thank you so much for joining us. And the "Human Factor" opens in limited theaters today.
And next, we are going to talk about more on the global pandemic. No one is fully safe until all are indeed. President Biden has unveiled a new
national strategy to replace the ad hoc jumble of responses from 50 different states under the previous administration. Andy Slavit is a senior
adviser to the new response team and he was President Obama's acting chief of Medicare and Medicaid. Here he is now talking to our Hari Sreenivasan
about the best way forward.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christian, thanks. Andy Slavit, thanks for joining us.
First, last time we spoke, you were on the outside looking in. Here you are now part of the group of people advising the president on our COVID
response. And first, I guess, you know, there's been rumors and reports about what your group has inherited. Is there a plan? Was there a plan? Is
it half-baked plan? What are you working with?
ANDY SLAVIT, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE COVID RESPONSE TEAM: Well, you know, I don't want to fixate too much on the negative because I think one of the
president's objectives is, of course, to bring the country together. And to do that, we don't want to look too far backwards.
But, you know, I think there is a reason why things aren't as far along as we thought. I don't think there's the kind of infrastructure and the plan
for success that there needs to be. Now, plans aren't everything. Plans need to be tweaked along the way and the world needs to respond to -- back
from the ground and changes in science and all of that. But, you know, we are going to have to put in place, and we are starting to put in place, a
very clear detailed plan of how we're going to do things, how important to do things like increase vaccinations. And I think that's what the American
SREENIVASAN: Yes. We'll talk about vaccinations in a minute. I want to also ask, right now, people are very concerned about these new variants
that are occurring naturally, that are happening in different parts of the world, even different parts of our country. A variant in Los Angeles,
there's been one found in the Bay Area. These seem more contagious than what we've been accustomed to for months and months. How concerned is the
taskforce and the response planning for these variants?
SLAVIT: Well, you are right. There are new variants, and there will be new variants, you know, this will a part of the story of this pathogen. And we
just have to be better and smarter.
What I would say to the public is the same things that were important before we knew about these variants, wearing a mask, as good and as tight-
fitting mask as possible, getting vaccinated and understanding why you should be vaccinate. And taking precautions with yourself or your family
are just as important if not more important than before. So, in terms of what we would do differently as a public, it's all exactly the same.
Now, the scientific community, and we're going to let the science continue to tell us what the data says about these things, is going to have to be on
it's -- continue to be in its game. You know, it's not develop a vaccine, game over. It's continue to look for vaccines, therapies, other adjustments
to test and so forth that will naturally occur over time. And I think the good news is, if we are on top of it and get more on top of it, start
sequencing more, start testing more, we will not be caught as unaware as I think we were this time.
SREENIVASAN: If this virus mutates, and that's bound to happen, is there a scenario where we just live with coronavirus year after year and similar to
getting a flu shot, we get a coronavirus shot too?
SLAVIT: Well, so, you know, I don't want to be too much speculate about the future, but I think if you look at the history of viruses, you know,
very few are completely eradicated. So, smallpox was eradicated and, you know, polio is quite close. But most viruses we learn to find many, many
other means besides just eradication for dealing with. And as we know, sometimes that means booster shots as in the case of influenza, sometimes
in the case of HIV, that means cocktails of therapeutics. But we will absolutely be able to bring this under control over time and get back to
normal life, but we need a strategy to do it. We need science. We need to pay attention to science. We need transparency. We need to get facts.
And if we do those things and really act and get the public to act with us, you know, we will we will do the best job we can defeating this. And
whether -- what defeating means exactly, as you say, Hari, we don't exactly know what that looks like, but it probably doesn't mean complete
SREENIVASAN: So, what happens if the president says -- we've got the Defense Production Act going, does that mean that somebody from the White
House right now is making calls to a glove manufacturer, PPE manufacturers and saying, hey, listen, I need you to put your assembly lines for other
things on hold and make more of these and we want them by yesterday?
SLAVIT: So those are the assessments being made exactly and I think if those things get determined figured out precisely what we need and where we
need it, we will see those things. I'll give you an example, an immediate example. People may be aware that there is an extra dose of a Pfizer that -
- as what they call it, a sick dose. Well, we've needed to create -- we needed to ramp up production of a new syringe and that's one of the things
that we are ramping up using Defense Production. I expect we will use it aggressively.
I guess I'd say, if I had a message to corporation out there who have capacity, whether it's disputes vaccine, whether it disputes anything else
in the national, good. You know, identify yourself to us. We're already deeply in conversation with many. But we need to put the whole country
together, not just corporations, not states, not the just the federal government, we need to pull as many people together and we'll (INAUDIBLE)
SREENIVASAN: How do you change the culture for millions of people who still find this an intrusion on their personal freedoms?
SLAVIT: We have to listen. You know, I don't think that we should be in a position where we're treating people's concerns as unreasonable, whether
their concerns about the vaccine, whether their concerns about wearing a mask, whether their concerns about their small businesses, their bars,
their restaurants. So, for one, I think we can't build trust until we do that.
Number two, we have to keep up our end of the bargain. And by us, I mean, the government. So, in other countries, where the government provides some
support for small business, for people who are out of work, who are renters, et cetera, that that level of trust gets reciprocated more easily
than the situation we face here where people have really had to wonder too much. That's why the president's package the $1.9 billion package everyone
talks about to help this country recover. It's so critical.
Because, in fact, supports people through a very difficult process but it also communicates the people that the we will have your back, we know
you're going through difficult times, we know we're asking things of you, we know this is something -- we know this is sacrifice, but asking people
to sacrifice it's far different than not asking them and letting people to stew (ph) and make them think that they're losing face.
SREENIVASAN: Now, when we spoke last and you've written about this often, do you think that we can get this under control if we just gave it a solid
month, maybe a little bit more? Is that part of the plan?
SLAVIT: So, I think if we adopt the measure that we are all contemplating, 100 days wearing a mask, getting vaccines into 100 million arms in the
first 100 days, which are plenty of challenges but we are -- want to do that and even more. And to communicate with people in a way that they
believe and that they trust about the real data, about real dangers, about health risks, about all of those things, we will make a dramatic impact.
Now, things will change and we'll surprises. We'll see things like the variant or we'll run into some (INAUDIBLE) challenges, you know, this will
not be smooth, it will be a bumpy road. But we will inform people along the way of the good, of the challenges. And I hope that people come to equate
this administration with complete transparency and hard work it takes to get to that place.
SREENIVASAN: One of the Republican pushbacks has been 100 million seems too few, because if you actually just say a 100 million arms, looking at
the fact that everybody -- most people have to get two shots, that's just about 50 million people, what do you do after that because that's where we
are in the production pipeline? What do you tell Pfizer and Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, anybody else to say, we need more vaccines fast?
SLAVIT: So, first of all, the commitment that the president made was to -- of 100 million vaccine in arms within 100 days. That was made before we had
any idea, whether or not this was even possible, but I think it sent a signal that we have to set goals and we have to achieve them, we have to
deliver them, or if we don't, we have to explain what's going on. But we have to pledge ourselves do that. What it doesn't mean is that we have a
goal of getting to a 100 million and stopping.
We have to get vaccines available as quickly as possible to every American who wants them and these many places who want them. That's why we're
rolling out these federal centers. We're rolling up 100 federal centers that are going to distribute and deliver vaccines. That's why we're ramping
up with the pharmacy. That's why we are going to be working with the governors to help figure out where are the vaccines in their pipeline, how
do we improve them and working with the manufacturers to figure out, can we get every additional dose as possible.
It's going to take some time. It's not the kind of thing to be done overnight. You know, the vision that we all may have add when we heard
about from the last administration that there were hundreds of millions ready, there were being produced earlier on, you know, unfortunately, it's
not as -- that's not the case we inherited. But it is what it is. We take where we are and we do everything we can to get as many vaccines out into
people as possible.
SREENIVASAN: So, right now, speaking of that pipeline, less than half the vaccine that's been distributed, I think it's about 36 million to states
has been injected. So, how do we speed that up? I mean, where is the bottleneck here? Is it the federal government not getting it to states fast
enough? Is it the states not getting it the hospitals? The hospitals not getting it into patients? What's the problem?
SLAVIT: So, I'll start with this. States are frustrated about a couple things. One is, many of them want more vaccines. All of them want at least
predictability to know how many vaccines they are getting. They haven't gotten that. We need to turn that around and give it to them. That's one of
the changes we can make top them. More predictability and then ramp up doses and give them as much transparency as possible.
Then we have to look at, at the same time, what's happening to does that as they go out the door, because we know that, as you say, not every one of
them is getting instantly into an arm. So, there are some things we can do. We can open the aperture so that we can get more people eligible for
vaccine because some of it may rightly be that the rules are too complicate, that we have vaccine but they're being held or a too narrow
population. Some of it is. Some natural mismatch that's going to occur.
For example, you know, you may have to send back to rural communities or to federally qualified health centers. Now, they may not have been able to
efficiently use all the vaccines they get, but it's still important, Hari, because the thing that we can't hold down on is making sure that the
distribution is equitable.
And so, if we put all the vaccines in one hard (ph) and locate place, we could probably vaccinate more people more quickly. But the people that
can't get to that place would not be vaccinated. And most at largely be people of color, low-income people, et cetera. So, you know, we're going to
have to both be as efficient as possible but to be as equitable as possible. We're also going to need to bounds it.
SREENIVASAN: Is there a data warehouse that is showing you everything you need to see about how the vaccine is absorbed, who's getting it, who's not
getting it? Do you have that kind of dashboard? Are you building it now?
SLAVIT: Unfortunately, we don't have the infrastructure that I would like to see. And, you know, I think we have some things. But we have also gaps
in our knowledge that -- you know, and the good news is, within 24 hours, we identified what those gaps were and called people together and there are
people who have wanted to figure out what they are. But as of today, I would love to be able to tell you where every vaccine in the country is in
inventory. Everything has been produced where it is. How it's being distributed. What sites are working. What sites are not working as well.
Where we need to provide assistance.
So, we're going to have to partner with the states and we intent to, beginning -- actually, with a conversation we're having with all the
governors this coming Tuesday to really make sure that that's happening in an aggressive and systematic way as possible.
SREENIVASAN: You know, speaking of equitable, last night I exchanged a question or an answer with Jerome Adams, the former surgeon general, and he
said his dad is 74. He's an African-American. Has other comorbidities. But the state that his dad lives in, the age is 75, right. How do you weigh the
disparate impact that this virus is having on people of color, with comorbidities and -- or is the federal government's hands tied because this
is a state-by-state issue?
SLAVIT: You know, we have to work together on solving this problem that's why we have a health equity taskforce, that's why we have a leader of the
health equity taskforce that is involved in every decision, every major decision that gets made. Because what happened is, you know, I don't think
the last administration was trying to be inequitable. But I think what we've learned in this country is unless you make an explicit specific
effort to target people who -- to whom things are harder to reach, and I'm not just talking about vaccine, I'm talking about everything, and I'm not
even just talking about the pandemic, I'm talking about all of health care. And probably not just all of health care. Then we know that we fail people.
Not everybody has equal access or ability, whether it's transportation or child care or they work -- they get paid by the hours and can't leave their
job. So, unless you make an extra effort, you never reach that level of equity. The data that we've seen showed that we have a real problem with
vaccine in terms of getting them to the communities of color, that it's going to take a really extended effort. And that's going to mean very
specifically working with groups and places that are going to be able to do that.
SREENIVASAN: You know the president recently said this is going to get worse before it gets better, that we could see 500,000 people dead in
another month or so. What should we be bracing for?
SLAVIT: Exactly that. That these things don't turn on a dime. They will be -- there will be continued challenges. But we should also be sure of the
fact that we can make a difference. You know, this isn't a virus that's beyond our (INAUDIBLE), our understanding. Yes, we will learn more about
it. Yes, there will be new variants. But we have the science. And what we need is the will and the support and the unity to come together and do
Every time I hear one of those numbers, I hear it two ways. I hear it as a sense of how awful this is and what the human toll has been. But I also
hear it as a challenge, as a challenge to not let that happen, to make every death theoretically one of the last ones. Because the only way to
honor people who we've lost, in my mind, the best way (INAUDIBLE), is to not leave any more people.
SREENIVASAN: Andy Slavitt, thanks so much for joining us.
SLAVIT: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.