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Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Appears to be Holding; COVID Cases, Deaths Drip as More Americans Get Vaccinated; Prince William: BBC's Failures Contributed to Diana's Paranoia; U.S. Senate Calls for Immediate Withdrawal of Eritrean Troops. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 21, 2021 - 04:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, after 11 days of deadly fighting there is finally a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. We're live in Jerusalem with the very latest.

Disturbing new video of a black man who died after being dragged, cuffed and tasered by police, but his family says they were told he died in a car accident.

Prince William slamming the BBC and it all has to do with an interview of Princess Diana back in 1995.

There has been calm in Gaza and Israel for the past nine hours now after an unconditional ceasefire took effect at 2:00 a.m. local time. Both sides agreeing to end 11 days of fighting in a deal born of pressure from the U.S. and mediation by Egypt.

The Gaza health ministry run by Hamas reports 232 Palestinians were killed since the escalation in fighting last week. The number of dead in Israel is 12, double its civilian death toll from the last big confrontation seven years ago.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East in the coming days to meet with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, and on Thursday President Biden warned there is still much to be done to avoid the next major confrontation.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy. My administration will continue our quiet and relentless diplomacy toward that end. I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress and I've committed to working for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: For more on the fragile agreement here is CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Under intense international pressure, Israel's security cabinet agreeing to an Egyptian brokered ceasefire. Hamas signing up, too. End of hostilities, 2:00 a.m. local. But in a tweet Israel's defense minister warning, the reality on the ground will determine whether we resume operations. But in the minutes prior to the agreement, Israeli war planes still hitting targets in Gaza.

ROBERTSON: So we're going to try and get ourselves to a safer place here.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Hamas rockets still targeting Israel. And not everyone happy with Netanyahu's decision.

ROBERTSON: Right now the government is having the security cabinet meeting. What are you hoping is going to come out of that meeting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want -- to stop. I think if we started we have to end it and go to the end.

ROBERTSON: Earlier in the day Hamas rockets hitting right outside our broadcast location. Also in the nearby town of Ashkelon, and Bathsheba more than 340 rockets fired according to Israel's defense forces since an overnight pause by Hamas. Israeli air strikes continued in Gaza, too, targeting, they said, Hamas tunnels, rocket launchers, commanders and weapon stores.

U.N. officials in Gaza say more than 70,000 Palestinians have been displaced during the 11 days of fighting and are calling for $38 million in immediate aid to help with essentials. Hundreds of millions more needed, they say, if the ceasefire takes hold. The situation, according to the U.N. secretary-general, is dire.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: If there is a hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza today.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Even before an end to the attacks Palestinian leaders describing the violence of occupation that has no end in sight.

MOHAMMED SHTAYYEH, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRIME MINISTER: This occupation should end and the sufferings of our people in Gaza, in Jerusalem, in the West Bank, in the refugee banks of Lebanon should also stop immediately, otherwise it's a cycle of violence.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Earlier in the day several European foreign ministers taken to see the site of a Hamas rocket attack. Their visit not just as friends of Israel but adding to the drumbeat for durable peace. Into the night, not yet clear if the ceasefire that came into effect at 2:00 a.m. local can actually hold.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Ashdod, Israel.


HOLMES: And journalist Elliott Gotkine is in Ashdod, Israel, this hour. So, Elliott, another ceasefire. The question, though, what now? To at least try not to be back here in a few years all over again.

ELLIOT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Quiet, Michael. I mean, there are, as we have seen, you know, the diplomatic efforts that we saw over the past few days. Once the dust has settled now and this ceasefire has held and is certainly holding up until this point, there will be perhaps more attempts to try to do something to avoid this cycle. Whereby every few years there is another flare up, another round of fighting between Israel and the Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip to the detriment both of Israelis and of course as we have seen to the detriment of the people of Gaza as well.

Now how much any such overtures will succeed will in a large part depend on the energy and diplomatic capital that U.S. President Joe Biden wants to spend on this. He of course, has got firsthand knowledge of this. Not just as a vice president under the Obama administration when there were some talks between Israelis and Palestinians that went nowhere, but also in his role as a Senator with a very, very involved in international relations. He himself has long described himself as a Zionist, as a friend of Prime Minister Netanyahu's even though he doesn't often agree with him.

And certainly really for some progress to be made would require the U.S., but as we've seen this time around the help of the Egyptians as well. Because the U.S. don't have at least publicly a direct line with Hamas, which it views as a terrorist organization. And for progress to be made one would imagine there would need to be perhaps good will gestures to begin with before any kind of talks could take place. But getting the Israelis and Hamas in the Gaza Strip to talk seems like a nonstarter certainly right now.

HOLMES: Exactly. I mean, the problem is there isn't a, quote/unquote, peace process anymore. There's nothing to work with. Israeli politics have moved sharply to the right, you point out. Hamas still in control in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority is pretty weak in terms of leadership. The Oslo agreement is pretty much gone. Where do we even start not to mention where is the will?

GOTKINE: That's right, Michael. And I think, you know, when we see flare-ups of violence and, you know, fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip although, you know, we hear from the U.N. secretary- general saying, you know, there really needs to be, you know, more talks, serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict in his words. What many Israeli politicians and many Israelis see that look, Israel got out of the Gaza Strip more than 15 years ago and this is what has happened. Imagine if we got out completely of the West Bank, you know, it would be even more threatening to Israel and its safety and security. So if anything when we see these rounds of fighting it doesn't

necessarily convince people that something needs to be done to resolve this once and for all. It convinces them the status quo ante where we have seen effectively no progress whatsoever in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians over the past year. It convinces certainly politicians and many Israelis that that is the best way, the best that can be hoped for and that some kind of ceasefire which will inevitably ultimately lead to more rounds of fighting in future is really all that they can hope for.

HOLMES: Yes, that status quo endures. The Palestinians don't want it, but what to do, as you say. Elliott Gotkine in Ashdod, Israel. Appreciate it thanks so much.

I did speak earlier with CNN political commentator and editor at large of "Jewish Currents" Peter Beinart. Asked him what does lie ahead for the people of Gaza and the West Bank for that matter, now that this latest military showdown with Israel appears to be over.


PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The United Nations says that Gaza is unlivable for human beings. It's 2 million people under a blockade who are basically in a kind of an open air prison. They can't move, their goods can't go in in and out very easily, there is not enough water, there is not enough electricity. Other Palestinians in the West Bank live under military occupation. They are not citizens of the country that controls their lives. They just don't have basic rights like due process and the right to vote for the government that controls their lives. So under those circumstances you don't have real peace.


You may have calm for a while, but it's just a matter of time until we have another one of these terrible explosions unless you deal with the basic issue which is that millions of people are denied basic freedom.

HOLMES: The original goal, it's worth talking about Gaza, and the original goal of the Israeli economic blockade on Gaza is to cripple Hamas after it took over the strip back in 2007. Of course that blockade Israeli control as you say of what comes in and what leaves has hurt Gaza civilians immeasurably but has it weakened Hamas, which was the declared aim?

BEINART: No. You know, blockades are very good at punishing civilian populations. You know, they are not very good at removing governments. We as Americans have been blockading Cuba since the 1960s, the Castro family is still in charge there but we've hurt the Cuban people. No, in fact this is ironically, it's probably strengthened Hamas because it's basically destroyed the independent business class that could have been a rival power center and allowed them to completely take control of the economy. And it's fundamentally just immoral to punish an entire population because the people who are on the ground running Gaza are people who Israel has a problem with. And, you know, and Israel has legitimate reasons for having problems

with Hamas, but this is both an ineffective and immoral strategy for responding to Hamas, as many of Israel's own security officials have actually acknowledged.


HOLMES (on camera): CNN political commentator Peter Beinart there.

U.S. health officials say the nation may finally be turning the corner in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The seven-day average of daily new COVID cases just dropped below 30,000 for the first time, wait for it, in nearly a year. Deaths are also declining, but vaccination rates have been slowing nationwide. And even though more than 48 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose, some groups are getting vaccinated at high rates than others. CNN's Erica Hill takes a look.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The push is on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take a deep breath please.

HILL (voice-over): A high school gym now a vaccination site.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To see my grandparents again. It's been a long time.

HILL (voice-over): Shots in arms at Richmond's Raceway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't even believe it, like I can't wait to go to a music festival.

HILL (voice-over): While in Minneapolis, they're on the move, to meet people where they are.

KECIA HAYSLETT, REGISTERED NURSE: I want to make sure that our community is aware of the things that are available to them so that they could, you know, feel safe.

HILL (voice-over): Just 22 percent of black Americans have gotten a shot, according to a new analysis of CDC data, compared with 29 percent of Hispanics and a third of white Americans. Native and Asian- Americans have the highest vaccination rates.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN OF EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT GRADY: We've got to continue vaccinating. The more we can vaccinate people, the better it can be.

HILL (voice-over): At least half the adults in these 19 stated and D.C. are now fully vaccinated. Maine has fully vaccinated more than half of its total population, the first state to reach that milestone. Mississippi has the lowest record. And is the only state to see a rise in average new cases over the past week. DR. COLLEEN KRAFT, ASSOCIATE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: The longer that we're perpetuating cases and transmission, the more likely we will need a booster.

HILL (voice-over): But a booster isn't a bad thing.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: When you get a booster, you increase dramatically the level of antibodies that would be protected.

HILL (voice-over): Meantime new efforts to ban school mask requirements in Iowa and Utah, even for kids too young to get the vaccine. This, as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend kids continue to mask up in public spaces until they can be vaccinated.

KRAFT: If we wear a mask, we're going to just prevent that transmission. So, it's unclear to me sort of the rationale behind that decision.

HILL: Here in New York masks are still required in schools. In the face of slowing vaccination rates in the state the governor announcing that next week New Yorkers who get their shot at a mass vaccination site will also get a $20 lottery ticket and they'll be eligible to win one of five $1 million prizes. This comes on the heels of what we're seeing out of Ohio where state officials say since they announced the "Vacs a Million" program they've seen an increase in vaccinations of 28 percent from earlier in the month.

In New York I'm Erica Hill, CNN.


HOLMES: We're going to take a quick break, when we come back, Prince William slamming the BBC over Princess Diana's infamous interview. It is rare to hear these kind of comments from British royals. We will share some of them with you.

Also police told Ronald Greene's family two years ago he was killed in a car crash, now police video shows that's not at all how he died.

And later in the program, an effort to investigate the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol appears likely to hit the Republican wall in the Senate. We'll be right back.



HOLMES: Welcome back. Prince William now lashing out at the BBC over its bombshell interview with his late mother back in 1995. It's the one you might remember where Princess Diana revealed her relationship with Prince Charles had pretty much broken down. Well, an independent inquiry found the journalist Martin Bashir used deceitful methods to secure that interview and the BBC covered that up. Let's hear some of William's comments.


PRINCE WILLIAM: It is welcome that the BBC accepts Lord Dyson's findings in full which are extremely concerning. That BBC employees lied and used fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother. Made lurid and false claims about the royal family which played on her fears and fueled paranoia. Displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the program and were evasive in their reporting to the media and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation.

It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said.


The interview was a major contribution to making my parents' relationship worse and has since hurt countless others. It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC's failure contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.


HOLMES: CNN's Scott McLean is right outside the BBC headquarters in London for us. Really harsh criticism of the BBC and how it handled this. Tell us more about the fallout from this report.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Michael, keep in mind that this interview is undoubtedly one of the most famous interviews in British broadcasting history. Prince Diana revealing some serious cracks in her marriage to Prince Charles. Also an interview that did not reflect well on the royal family at all. Just to jog your memory, here is the most famous exchange.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Mrs. Parker Bowles was a factor in the breakdown of your marriage?

PRINCESS DIANA: Well, there were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded.


MCLEAN (on camera): Camilla Parker Bowles now the Duchess of Cornwall, of course, the wife of Prince Charles the future king. Now, this independent inquiry, this independent report which was done by a judge comes 25 years after that interview aired, more than 25 years. And it found that the journalist who conducted the interview Martin Bashir had used fake bank statements reporting to show that the British Intelligence Services and the media were paying members of Princess Diana's inner circle in essences to spy on her.

The trouble is that none of that was true, the bank statements were completely bogus, but they succeeded in convincing Princess Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, to have his trust and also to make the introduction between Martin Bashir and Princess Diana which ultimately led to that interview.

As you mentioned, Michael, this report also found that the BBC covered up key facts that it knew or ought to have known about how that interview came to be. The BBC today accepting the findings of the report. The head of the BBC promising more personal apologies to the key players who were involved in it as well.

And you heard Prince William obviously talking about how this interview greatly contributed to the fears, paranoia and isolation that he remembers.

His brother Prince Harry also releasing a separate statement which read in part, our mother lost her life because of this -- because of what he called a culture of exploitation in the British press -- and nothing has changed. By protecting her legacy we protect everyone and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life. Let's remember who she was and what she stood for.

Now, last night it was actually the very same BBC program, Panorama, that aired that interview back in 1995 that aired a brand-new expose on how the interview came to be. And in it they interviewed Earl Spencer, Diana's brother, who made some pretty striking statements. Here is one.


EARL CHARLES SPENCER, PRINCESS DIANA'S BROTHER: Well, the irony is that I met Martin Bashir on the 31st of August 1995, because exactly two years later she died. And I do draw a line between the two events.


MCLEAN (on camera): And the reason he makes that connection is because he says that the interview that Diana was presented with and the interview itself really seemed to dissolve any trust that she had with the people around her. And seemed to push her even further away from the bubble of the royal family, if you might call it that, and the protection that she might have had otherwise in the years that followed.

I should also mention, Michael, for Martin Bashir's part he has apologized for ever having those bank statements mocked up.

But he also continues to insist that, quote, they had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview. It is saddening that this single issue has been allowed to overshadow the princess' brave decision to tell her story.

His statement goes on to point out the very first paragraph of this 127-page investigative report which says that Princess Diana at that point in her life was pretty keen to do a TV interview and probably would have done it with any television reporter that she found reputable and had earned her trust, regardless of Martin Bashir's involvement at all. Martin Bashir resigned from his position at the BBC on Monday citing ongoing health issues -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Scott McLean in London, outside BBC headquarters. Thanks, Scott.

Now, U.S. President Joe Biden will host the South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House today. Perhaps unsurprisingly North Korea will be top of the agenda as the two leaders try to navigate the thorny foreign policy issue that Pyongyang and its nuclear program poses. Trade also expected to be a top agenda item.


Mr. Moon's visit will be only the second time Biden has hosted another world leader in person since taking office back in January, underscoring the importance the Biden administration is placing on the Indo-Pacific region.

Now, the U.S. Senate is calling for the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia's war torn Tigray region after a CNN investigation uncovered soldiers were cutting off aid routes critical to starving civilians. That's on top of reporting that troops had carried out massacres, sexual violence and other human rights abuses. CNN's Nima Elbagir was part of that investigation and has the latest for us.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the clearest message to date to Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed and his Eritrean ally, Isaias Afwerki. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia's Tigray region. They also called upon the U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and the Biden administration to hold those who were found guilty of having violated human rights in Ethiopia's Tigray region accountable, opening the door for potential sanctions.

It's been six months of conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region and many activists and advocates tell us that it has been six months in which the world has only offered words of concern. Well, these words of concern feel a little stronger, but the hope for many is that finally these words will open the door to action because the U.N. has said that still Eritrean troops and Ethiopian soldiers continue to obstruct flow of aid inside Tigray, in spite of the fact that the region is on the brink of famine.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Coming up here on "CNN NEWSROOM" shocking video of a fatal confrontation between a black motorist and Louisiana police two years ago. Now Ronald Greene's family demanding answers after being misled about how he died. We will be right back.