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CONNECT THE WORLD
Wildfires Burning Through California; U.S. To Recognize Jerusalem As Capital Of Israel. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired December 6, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:26] BECKY ANDERSON, CONNECT THE WORLD, CNN: Hello and welcome to what is this very special edition of "Connect the World." I'm Becky
Anderson coming to you from a city as ancient as it is deeply divided. Jerusalem. It is 5:00 in the afternoon here, 10:00 in Washington. We
begin first with a major story on the west coast of the United States. For the third straight day massive wildfires raging through southern
California. Let's have a look at these pictures. As we do, you are seeing pictures from Los Angeles. More than 65,000 acres have been torched
destroying scores of buildings sending tens of thousands of people fleeing from their homes. Officials expect the fires to continue for days.
So looking at these pictures, wind whipped wildfires raging for a third day. On Wednesday in southern California including a fresh place the UCLA
threatening further damage after burning more than 65,000 acres torching scores of buildings and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their
homes. We will get to that story for you shortly with a reporter live on the scene.
For the reason that we are here. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the lord surrounds his people from this time forth and forever more. That
is how the bible describes where we are standing now and it goes some way to explaining why for thousands of years Jerusalem has been as significant
to civilization as we know it. For Jews, for Christians and for Muslims, this is the very landscape of their faith.
Something they are being fiercely reminded of as they wait for a decision to be made on the other side of the world. In around three hours from now,
Donald Trump, U.S. President, is expected to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and he could announce plan to move the U.S. Embassy here
from Tel Aviv. If you still have doubts about just how significant that is, heed the words of the Palestinian Liberation Organization which say the
move would be quote, the kiss of death to the peace process here. Also calling for three days of rage.
We are covering all sides of this story. Ian Lee, is in Ramallah for you in the west bank this hour, Nic Robertson is at Jerusalem historic Java
Gate. We'll also speak to Ben Wedeman in Beirut. We'll get the latest from our correspondents in just a moment. First Ian Lee tells us what the
move means for the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When President Donald Trump visited Jerusalem in May, he made history being the first sitting U.S. President to go to the
western wall. Everything was carefully choreographed, so as not to give the impression that the U.S. accepts all of Israel's claim on Jerusalem.
Well that might change. President Trump called to tell regional leaders including Palestinian President Abbas about his intention to remove the
embassy to Jerusalem. Abbas warned of potential dangerous consequences and damage to the peace process. But for the President, it's fulfilling a
campaign promise. Israeli officials hope Trump will finally make good.
ANDERSON: My apologies. We are getting some audio issue with that report. Ian lee is standing by for us live in Ramallah. Ian, I'll come to you
first. Sorry, momentarily. Nic, I want to get to you first. You are in such a historic situation there. Let's get the perspective from here this
hour as to what we may not get three hours from now, thousands of miles away in Washington.
[10:05:03] NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also thousands of miles away, but in a
NATO meeting in Brussels told journalists that is very important to wait to hear the entirety of what President Trump had to say. People here waiting
to see if President Trump talks about a united Jerusalem as being the capital of Israel. Certainly for Palestinians that would signal that he'd
be shutting down the possibility of talks that could lead to a two state solution. Or does he indeed talk about the possibility of a two state
solution. Earlier in the day when Prime Minister Netanyahu here spoke to reporters, he really stayed away from referencing in any detail what
President Trump might say. He is likely to have recorded statement immediately after President Trump speaks. So the indication there is it
would seem to be on the surface has a detailed understanding of what President Trump may say.
So the key thing for people is what is in the detail of what President Trump announce, we heard from the mayor of Jerusalem standing right here
just an hour or so ago saying that this was important that the United States had done this. This was something that had been long awaited this
was the right decision. The minister for transport here earlier today say this is a historic day for Israelis and any country that doesn't recognize
Jerusalem as the capital of Israel doesn't therefore recognize the state of Israel.
But the international view is it a variance to that? Theresa May, the Prime Minister of Britain said today that she believes that the United
States should be pushing towards working a peace deal here. She doesn't want the President's statement and announcement to get in the way of that
and she sees that the future of Jerusalem, and this is a reflection of what many international leaders see, she sees the future of Jerusalem as a
shared capital between both Palestinians and Israelis. So is the detail of what President Trump announces in the coming hours that is going to be a
key, key importance here.
ANDERSON: Ian, what is the mood like on the west bank in this hour?
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, really one of anticipation, people waiting for President Trump's speech to see, what is the details of that
speech? But there's already a lot of anger growing here. We've heard from a number of Palestinian officials. All these officials, leading officials
within the Palestinian government within Fatah have all said that any sort of declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would be a death blow
to the peace process. And they've said frankly that if this does go forward the United States needs to take a back seat, that they aren't
qualified to be part of this peace process, of any peace process.
So there's a real concern here that not only will you lose the peace process, but it could also spark tensions here in the west bank, in
Jerusalem, in Gaza where there's already a call for three days of protest, three days of rage and then really spreading across the region other
countries. Because we have to remember, Jerusalem is significant for a number of people. It first houses the holiest site in Judaism and
Christianity. And Islam the third holiest site so for Muslims around the world, they're watching closely to see what the United States does, what
Israel does, and the United States, Becky, is bracing for that.
ANDERSON: Ian Lee is in Ramallah this evening and Nic in Jerusalem, thank you both. The Turkish Prime Minister says if the U.S. moves its embassy to
Jerusalem it will be a quote a big mistake that will bring chaos to the region, end quote. That came ahead of his meeting with the U.S. Secretary
of State. If that wasn't enough or strong enough, have a listen to what his boss said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): I would like to reiterate my sadness over the reports that the United States is getting ready to recognize Jerusalem
as Israel's capital. Mr. Trump, Jerusalem is the red line for Muslims. Our struggle in this matter will continue with resolve. As a matter of fact,
this could go so far as breaking off our diplomatic relations with Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Turkey not the only country speaking out, of course. There is widespread criticism from across the international community including
heavyweights France, Germany and the U.K. A huge move then with massive implications across the entire middle east. Ben Wedeman is in Beirut for
you this evening. Ben, just describe, if you will, the significance. From where you are and through the prism of the wider middle east.
[10:10:07] BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly here in Lebanon the reaction has been negative. Here you have
the daily star entire front page a picture of dome of Iraq and the headline that says no offense, Mr. President, Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.
But as a matter of fact, Lebanese politicians are so busy with their own current mess in the aftermath of Prime Minister Hariri's resignation and
then rescinding out his resignation, they already have not much to say about this issue today. We were at a Palestinian refugee camp here in
Beirut which was the site of the 1982 massacre and there we heard really more than anger, just resignation that yet again the Arab leaders who have
promised time and time again that they would solve -- help solve the Palestinian issue, that they put so much time and effort into befriending
Donald Trump and four of them actually spoke with him on the phone, asked him not to go ahead with this decision, but then it appears he is going to
do it anyway.
So I spoke to one 92-year-old man who fled Palestine in 1948. He said yet again the Arab leaders have betrayed us. Another man told me all the Arab
leaders really care about are their seats, their positions, and their power. They don't really, they say one thing and do the opposite. And so
really the anger is more at the Arab leaders, because the fact of the matter is we talk about the death blow of the peace process, but for most
people here and most people in the west bank, the peace process died years ago. We're talking about a corpse and therefore, they're not surprised,
for instance, that the United States in their view is doing the bidding of Israel recognizing Jerusalem as the capital.
It just doesn't really make any difference to the big picture, to the 450,000 Palestinian refugees here in Lebanon who don't see any hope of
going back to their home land regardless of where the American embassy happens to be. One other man 77 years old told me that until judgment day,
we will hope to go back to Palestine, but he said we really don't expect that to happen anytime soon. Becky.
ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman with the wider story out of Beirut and Lebanon for you this evening. And further analysis, of course, as we move through this
show and closer to the expected announcement from President Trump just two and three quarter's hours from now out of Washington. I'll get you back to
the U.S. at this point and back to southern California where raging wildfires are rapidly burning across the northern and western edges of Los
Angeles. You are looking at live pictures of the city. More than 200,000 people are in evacuation centers. Tens of thousands of acres have already
The governor of California has declared a state of emergency in Ventura County that is where Stephanie Elam joins me now. Stephanie what can you
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, there's a lot happening here as far as wildfires in southern California. Where I am in Ventura is about an
hour and a half north of Los Angeles. This fire is called the Thomas fire, it grew very quickly because of those Santa Ana winds that we get here,
sparking fires and spreading those embers around. At one point they said it was burning as much as an acre a minute. That is how quickly that was
going. But this area here, as you can see flames came in here and burned down the house behind me. The house that was there to the right. Then you
can see the houses that, are behind it and to the right are still standing. 50,000 acres this fire has crunched up and eaten up and it is still going.
It is still uncontained. And at the same time, while people here are still dealing with that and dealing with mandatory evacuations, you have people
down there in the heart of Los Angeles right off of a major thoroughfare, a major highway in the city called the 405, that highway right now closed in
this section, because of the fact that there is fire burning right alongside of it, right along a Getty museum that people may have heard
about and it's also burning up into some neighborhoods people may have heard of such as Bel Air and also Brentwood.
These are neighborhoods within the Los Angeles community where we're seeing the fires burning. When you take a look at the fact that it is now just
rush hour traffic, and this fire is burning right along the highway, it is still small, and the fact that it's about 50 acres compared to this one,
the fact that it's so populated is the cause for concern. At this point they have 220 firefighters working on it, but the problem is the winds will
pick up as the afternoon gets o here, Becky and with that those winds, you can see the embers flying. Since we haven't had rain in more now, you've
got very dry trees, very dry brush, and that is just the perfect situation for the fires to spread and to pop up in other parts of the area as well.
[10:15:30] ANDERSON: Yes. These are remarkable pictures. So what is the forecast going forward, how does the weather affect the job that
firefighters have to do and the potential spread of the fires?
ELAM: It's a huge part of it Becky, because what happens here, where I am standing, we're not far from the Pacific Ocean. So you can feel overnight
as I've been standing out here overnight, it gets moist. You feel the humidity lift and it kind of calms things down but the fires don't go away.
As the day warms up, you see the dryness coming back up and with that the fire can just build and take off. They try to take advantage of those
hours for the firefighters to get in there a break up some that of brush and try tonight it from above with helicopters and maybe fixed wing
aircraft if they can do that as well and try to break in it. The problem is we have red flag warnings in place through Friday and we do know that we
may see some gusts as high as 50 miles per hour later on today and with that comes larger fire danger. We're not anywhere near the clear in this
one and that means it will be a difficult situation for firefighters moving forward.
ANDERSON: Stephanie Elam is in Ventura County in California. I know our viewers Steph, will wonder just how people are coping. You must have
spoken to tens of residents now who are affected by this. What are they telling you?
ELAM: There have been some shots of people talking and watching, liked my house is up that street and this street is closed and I don't know if my
house is fine or not. It's that fear. What is also worse, yes, it's awful to come back and find your house like this, but what if you lost your life?
Put it into perspective about this. When you see that the house just beyond there is fine and you're coming up on the holidays as well. It's a
difficult time. Not that there's ever a good time for it, but people grappling with that and the fact that some things make it through and some
things don't, it's a very difficult situation. You see people with their cars burned down in their garages. It's hard for people to deal with.
That is something that you see every time you cover a wildfire. The devastating lost and the people having to start their lives back up from
ANDERSON: Like you say, every time you cover a fire like this you are reminded that people's lives and livelihoods are at stake. It's the idea
that this happens time and time again and that people just have to get on with it which is so distressing, isn't it? Stephanie, thank you for that.
Viewers, we will stay with that story, of course and we'll be getting back to it as we will be to our other top news story. Just ahead we're going to
get you to Ramallah to hear from the Palestinian liberation organization. Stay tuned.
[10:22:21] ANDERSON: All right, welcome back. We are in Jerusalem for you. Ahead of a particularly controversial announcement from Donald Trump
later on or at least what is proposed could be extremely controversial. We want to get the Palestinian perspective now on President Donald Trumps
expected announcement on Jerusalem. Mr. Trump's decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, if indeed that is what he announces, would be illegal
and, quote, a fatal blow to peace and security. Hanan Ashrawi joining me now live from Ramallah in the west bank. With respect, whatever he says
later today, the bottom line is this won't change Jerusalem's legal status whether he calls it Israel's capital and indeed whether he actually decides
to move the U.S. embassy. No other state in the world recognizes Jerusalem, east or west, as Israel capital. Some so symbolic, yes, but
reality is nothing changes. So why all the fuss some might say?
HANAN ASHRAWI, PALESTINIAN LEGISLATOR: Well, Becky, good evening. Certainly it is absolutely illegal and yes, the U.S. and Trump in
particular does not have the mandate to change the status of Jerusalem unilaterally. But once he decide to recognize, Jerusalem as the capital of
Israel and-or to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, he is in violation of international law. He is pre-empting the out of come negotiations.
Unilaterally prejudging permanent status for negotiations. He is violating International American policy, long standing policy and the status of
Jerusalem that is east Jerusalem is occupied territory. West Jerusalem remains (inaudible).
ASHRAWI: Nobody recognizes as you said as the capital of Israel. But he is opening the door also for others to do the same and he is telling the
world that he is so biased that the U.S. is so blindly biased in favor of Israel and its impunity and the legality of territory by war that they are
willing to destroy --
ANDERSON: Ok. And I wanted to get to that point. But let's just stick with what he may or may not say. Should he say that he is moving the
embassy to Washington -- to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, he would certainly be breaking with convention. But he may also say that Jerusalem will still be
part of the final status at negotiations. So he may not put that -- I'm just playing a hypothetical here, because we don't know what he is going to
[10:25:09] ASHRAWI: Yes I know.
ASHRAWI: I want you on your side are saying the U.S. will no longer be seen as an honest broker and any promise of peace is dead, surely that is
going too far, one step too far, isn't it?
ASHRAWI: Not at all. No. No. If you want to be an honest peace broker, first of all, you respect the law. Second of all, you respect the rights
of both parties. Third, you respect signed agreements. Fourth of all, you do not do anything unilaterally to prejudice the negotiations and you do
not take sides so blatantly. But again, he must not insult our intelligence. The moment he told President Bas and all the other Arab
leaders that he has decided to move the embassy to Jerusalem and that was it. He is telling his closest allies also in the region and who stake
their careers on their alliance with him that he is going to destabilize their own public, their own regimes, he is going to destabilize the whole
region. He is provoking a religious war and he refuses to listen to them and to listen to the advice of words and of caution of everybody else. In
a sense, he is wreaking havoc, in the region. He is generating an atmosphere of distress and hostility and anger. And he is also inflaming.
ANDERSON: Which we have certainly heard from many, many other leaders around the region. Absolutely. We have heard that line from many, many
others. Isn't it a fact with respect to the Palestinian leadership has let the Palestinians down to the point out which we are today potentially
looking at what many around this region says a peace process that is just dead in the water?
ASHRAWI: Absolutely. We are looking at a nonexistent peace process or a process without any peace, without any direction, commitments
accountability or anything else. It was a process used by Israel to create faction unilaterally, to buy more time, to annex more territory to steal
more land, to build more settlement, to carry out ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem. This is what happened. Now you may blame the Palestinian
leadership for insisting on pursuing a negotiations process, but I also blame the fact that Israel was allowed to act with full impunity and was
political legal cover and was given assistance, material, and economic military assistance by the U.S. and by others to the point where now it has
almost destroyed the two state solution and people blame the Palestinians. Where the Palestinians has been cautioning against this. When we go to the
international community, we want to go to the ICC, congress say then we'll cut all off funding, then we will close your offices. Then you are going
to be punish. But Israel impunity is not punished. The victim is threatened and punished and blackmailed. Let me say clearly if there is in
any interest in peace and stability in the region, saner voicer have to prevail. You cannot sugarcoat this bill, it has to be address squarely and
some sense has to be knocked into this leadership.
ANDERSON: And with that we leave it there time being. We are live out of Jerusalem. Viewers for you this evening with analysis and what is
certainly a potentially controversial announcement out of Washington. Thousands and thousands of miles away from here, but what will affect not
just here, but this wider region enormously. We'll be back with more on what is a very important story in just a moment for you.
[10:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good evening again from what is this beautiful city of Jerusalem. And let me boil our top story down for you
this hour. President Trump may recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and it becomes a tale of two cities.
One is the center of power for the three world, the other is ancient and sacred to so many. Washington through President Trump is expected to
recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital in the next couple of hours.
All eyes will soon be on the White House for that expected announcement. It would be a further sign of the strengthening of ties between the Trump
administration and government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Well, the decision to destroy the incredibly fragile moves towards peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. But Jerusalem's Mayor Nir Barkat
will be getting his wish. Here is the message he sends the presidents on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR NIR BARKAT, JERUSALEM: In Jerusalem, we don't care of the pressure and we don't let threats or violence stop us from doing what is right.
President Trump, I encourage you to do the right thing. To recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and bring the U.S. embassy home to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Let's break this all down with CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott, live from Washington. Controversial, Elise, as it would be
for the president to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
That wouldn't be enough it seems for the mayor. He is looking for this embassy move a campaign pledge from U.S. President Donald Trump just
explained to us the significance of one or both of those moves.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. Well you know, the president today will recognize the capital which is something that has been in U.S. law
Now every six months, success of U.S. presidents have waived the moving of the embassy as part of that recognition of the capital because they say
that the future of Jerusalem, the status should be negotiated in a final status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. And essentially, the
president is going to say that. So you know today what he's doing is saying, Jerusalem is the capita.
[10:35:00] But also the borders of that, you know, capital are going to be for final status negotiations. So it's -- it's not really a kind of
impracticality not going to do much, Becky. He is still going to sign that waiver.
I expect he will be signing that waiver on moving the U.S. embassy for some time to come now that he is kind of publicly said what U.S. presidents have
not said, this could enable him some more time but I think this is a very emotional range.
ANDERSON: So let me -- yes, let me put this to you because I think that is where you were going. He would though be breaking with convention and it
is the convention of these presidents' past since the early 90's which was that people realize president -- U.S. president has realized that it would
be extremely controversial and very explosive in this region.
You know, the Jerusalem mayor says do the right thing by Israel and the Palestinians and the wider Middle East will say, do right thing by the
Palestinians, Arabs and other Muslims.
LABOTT: Right. I mean look, President Trump had -- you know, have a dozen calls with Arab and international leaders in the last 36 hours. And they
all -- except for Prime Minister Netanyahu who said the same thing, don't do it.
The only -- this benefit as well in some way, it mostly benefits President Trump because he is able to make this -- you know, he's making good on his
pledge to his supporters and that's pretty much U.S. officials are pretty clear. That's why he's doing it.
He is going to say that you know, he still believes in a two state solution. He still believes that the future of Jerusalem, you know, the
actual borders of it can be negotiated.
Perhaps the Palestinians can have Israel some of their future capital. This is just a very emotional decision, announcement and what it's going do
is I think people are afraid.
A, it's going to prejudice a final peace deal because this is something that one of the few things that the Palestinians had, you know, as a card
to play at the peace table.
The other one I think is people are afraid that Israel will take this as a green light to continue to do whatever they want in Jerusalem, even though
President Trump is going to say holy sites like the Temple Mount.
I'm sure he will be -- you know, the status quo. I think it leaves a lot of room for Israel to continue to make those what we call realities on the
ANDERSON: So all eyes are on Washington as the world waits to hear from the U.S. president. In that waiting period, Elise, American troops have
been positioned close to countries where there is concern on rest may break out at hotspot.
Of course U.S. embassies right here, you can see the (Inaudible) surrounding Jerusalem, Beirut, Cairo, Ankara, Amman and Baghdad and to some
of America's closest allies, and most have delivered strong push back against the U.S. president's campaign promise.
This seems to be American -- America absent as oppose to America first as a campaign slogan, American absent in this region when it comes to any sort
LABOTT: Well I mean, I think, you know, this decision is President Trump first. It's not America first. I don't think it's necessarily going to
benefit America. I think that you know, wisely U.S. officials have been very concerned.
You know you remember what happened in 2012 when that Muslim video was posted online, that they got caught flat-footed and you were -- there were
violent U.S. protests at U.S. embassies in the region.
So they don't want to -- they wisely or making sure that they're not, you know caught off guard this time. Listen, President Trump's peace team,
Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, even traveling around the world since the administration came in, traveling to Arab States.
And I think they have garnered a lot of trust of all of the parties, certainly of Israel but also you know the Palestinians. President Trump
has welcomed President Abbas to the White House. The Arabs appreciate that Kushner has been listening.
I think that this will just kind of setback any progress that they had made towards, you know, getting everybody on board towards working towards for
the peace deal.
You know, some of the U.S. officials say, oh well, this could be a catalyst. This could galvanize Arabs behind the Palestinians and you know,
kind of force them to accept the deal. I personally think it's going to do the exact opposite. Becky.
ANDERSON: Elise Labott is in Washington for you. Israel's Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked tells the Jerusalem Post today that most -- well
what does she say, that President Trump's plan is quote, a victory of the American people and the American spirit. Really?
[10:40:00] Well those poll numbers or these new poll numbers might surprise you. A survey was conducted by the Brookings Institution, finds that 63
percent of Americans oppose moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Just 31 percent support the move. So Americans aren't backing it, neither is the international community, the top Christian and Muslim religious
authorities are oppose the idea and the proposed move risks causing absolute mayhem in the region.
Let's get the view then from the White House and how it is explaining these situations. CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip is joining us from
It is when you look at those numbers -- those poll numbers and then you hear how the White House is couching this argument that there was a promise
made during the campaign, that this is a campaign promise, that President Trump is absolutely determine to keep and yet it seems, the majority of
Americans don't want this to happen. How do you square that all?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Becky, I think that's exactly right. The frame for looking at this issue is not just about the American public
at large but a smaller group of people at President Trump's space.
When administration officials talk about this issue, it is all about keeping a promise that he made on the campaign trail, especially as we come
to the close of his first year as president, the White House really wants to be able to say, this is a promise made and a promise kept.
So let me read you a little bit about what they're saying about the issue that you were just discussing with, Elise, which is about what is this
going to do to the peace process.
The prospects for peace in the Middle East, a senior administration official talking -- talking to reporters last night said, it seems clear
now that the physical location of the American embassy is not material to a peace deal.
It is not an impediment to peace and it is not a facilitator to peace. After having tried this for 22 years and acknowledgment of reality seems
like an important thing.
So, Becky, the administration is arguing here that this has no bearing whatsoever on the peace deal and as, Elise, just pointed out, a lot of
folks who work on this issue disagree.
At the same time the White House has been saying for a very long time that their approach to the peace process is going to be different from that of
previous presidents and the fact that the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner is so intimately involved in this.
He has a personal relationship with -- with the Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and that is one of the driving forces behind this move. It is
one of the driving forces behind this administration's entire policy toward Israel and toward that region. Becky.
ANDERSON: A view from the White House, Abby Phillip, joining us, thank you. Live from Jerusalem and this is a special Connect the World with me,
Becky Anderson. More ahead on that announcement -- an announcement with this and much of the Middle East is waiting for.
[10:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANDERSON: Al; right, we are live from Jerusalem this hour. A city waiting to hear what Donald Trump says in just over two hours time -- words that
will affect the region's future.
Back home, however, Washington waiting to hear the words of another Trump - - President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in the coming hours.
That was part of the U.S. investigation into Russian meddling into the U.S. election. And there are questions about how Vice President Mike Pence
could have remained in the dark about Michael Flynn's talks with the former Russian Ambassador. Jeff Zeleny has more on the developments from
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New questions tonight about how or whether Vice President Pence could have remained in the dark over Michael Flynn's
talks with the former Russian ambassador.
It's causing anxiety within the vice president's inner circle. And he will eventually be called for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
They are preparing for that. One Republican close to Pence told CNN.
Documents unsealed last week show several Trump advisers talked to Flynn about his calls with then Ambassador Sergey Kislyak over U.S. sanctions
even as Pence's aides insist the vice president was unaware.
How some of Trump's top confidants could have known while Pence with the time he was leading the Trump transition team did not is a mystery hanging
over the Russian investigation.
Over a view of the timeline of the events raises more questions than it answers. On December 20th, Pence holds a national security meeting at the
transition offices in Washington. On December 28th, the day President Obama approved new sanctions against Russia for meddling in the 2016
election, President-elect Trump said this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think generally about sanctions being stretched?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we ought to get on with our lives.
ZELENY: On December 29th, while Pence was in Indiana preparing for his son's wedding, Flynn calls K.T. McFarland who is at Mar-a-Lago with other
transition official to discuss Russia sanctions.
Flynn then calls Kislyak to talk about sanctions, and finally, Flynn calls McFarland back to discuss the Kislyak phone call. Sixteen days later on
January 14th, Pence calls Flynn to personally ask about his calls with Kislyak. On January 15th, Pence goes on television.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've talked to General Flynn yesterday and the conversations that took place at that time were not
in anyway related to new U.S. sanctions against Russia or the expulsion of diplomats.
They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose a censure against Russia. So General Flynn
has been in touch with diplomatic leaders, security leaders in some 30 countries. That's exactly what the incoming national security adviser
ZELENY: Five days later on January 20th, Trump has sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Pence has sworn in as Vice President.
On February 9th, the Washington Post story reveals Flynn did in fact discuss sanction with Kislyak. Four days later, on February 13th, Trump
fires Flynn. Three days after that, on February 16th, the president offered his reasoning for Flynn's dismissal.
TRUMP: He didn't tell the vice president of the United States the facts and then he didn't remember. And that just wasn't acceptable to me.
ZELENY: Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.
ANDERSON: Live from Washington for you this hour, it's just over two hours until the U.S. president is expected to recognize this very city. Divided
and disputed as it is at the capital of Israel. A reminder next of why this city is so sacred to so many people.
[10:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Donald Trump there in Jerusalem earlier this summer visiting the West wall, not very far away from where I am standing tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: There are other holy cites, holy for as many as 4 billion people, half the world's population or even more so. In fact the
significance of Jerusalem cannot be overstated.
CNN's Oren Liebermann who is normally based in Jerusalem joins us now from New York where he is on assignment. And, Oren, you have looked here in
Jerusalem for three years.
Is someone lives and works there understands the significance of this potential announcement from Donald Trump tonight? Break it down for our
viewers just what the city means to many religions and sectors who live here.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well let me take you back to the original plan for Jerusalem under the 1947 United Nations partition plan.
It may seem Asian history but even if there, the significance of the city was recognized, the U.N. was calling for Jewish statements to an Arab state
but Jerusalem itself was handled separately.
It was supposed to be an international city held by no one but belonging to everyone. And Jerusalem has remain sensitive ever since it was split in
the war between Israel and Jordan, and it was occupied, East Jerusalem by Israel in 1967, annexed in 1980, a move that was never recognized by the
It sensitivity certainly has not weighed. In fact, it's only grown because while you see so many world leaders opposing what Trump is expected to do
and recognizing the capital.
Let me point out something here, Becky, that this is being viewed as black- and-white by many, Trump's conference announcement. And yet there is a spectrum that fits into the warding President Trump decides to use.
For example if it comes out and says Jerusalem was the united, unified, undivided capital of Israel, that will be considered very pro-Israeli.
Palestinians and world leaders with outright reject that.
And whatever plan Trump had for a peace process would be dead in arrival. On the far other end of that spectrum, if Trump uses the words, West
Jerusalem and East Jerusalem says, West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, East Jerusalem will be capital or will be at least be Palestinian will work
on boundaries and negotiations.
That will be quite the opposite, that would be viewed as fairly pro- Palestinian and would be somewhat more palatable to the international community.
The likelihood there is that his statement includes and introduces ambiguity, falls somewhere in the middle there to try to make it at least
workable here for both sides as Trump deals with something so sensitive, Becky.
ANDERSON: This city has dealt with so much grief. And how do you see this unfolding?
LIEBERMANN: Oh, that's a difficult question and incredibly difficult question to predict because a lot depends on the wording Trump uses and how
international leaders respond to that wording. What are the reactions here and for that, we'll wait and see in a few hours, Becky.
ANDERSON: Oren is New York -- Oren is in New York. He is on assignments and we thank you very much, and indeed (Inaudible) made here as we present
what is this special edition of Connect the World.
I'm Becky Anderson and from our team working with me here in Jerusalem, and those back at home at the base in Abu Dhabi and Atlanta, and in London, and
our reporting teams across the region who are covering this story, thank you for watching, and U.S. Donald Trump will make that announcement in two
hours time and watch it live here on CNN.