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Dennis Ross on Gaza Crisis

Hannity & Colmes

DENNIS ROSS, FOX NEWS FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST & AUTHOR: I think Israel, one, focuses on how they help to build up Fatah in the West Bank. We are dealing with a competition between Fatah, which is a national movement, and Hamas, which is an Islamist movement. You want to have a national movement because, in the end, you can solve national conflicts. You can't solve religious conflicts.

HANNITY: What about Fatah's history of violence and antipathy towards Israel.

ROSS: You don't ignore history. In fact, one of the things I would like to see us do, we are all rushing now to pour a lot of money into Abu Mazen. I don't want us to do it in a way where we simply repeat the mistakes of the past.

We should focus on many of the younger members of Fatah who are trying to organize at the grass roots. I met many of them in the last couple of weeks. They get what's going on. They understand what's at stake. And in the end, they want co-existence with the Israelis, not as a favor to Israel, but it's part of their own salvation.

HANNITY: Patricia, your thoughts.

PATRICIA DEGENNARO, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, NYU: I do agree with Dennis. I also think that the Americans need to get a team together right now and be able to support anything that they need so we don't miss this great-though opportunity at this moment.

HANNITY: When you look at Hamas -- for example, if we look at all the terror in the region, if it's, you know, the insurgency being funded by Iran. Now we learned last week that the Taliban is being funded by Iran, Hezbollah $100 million a year from Iran and also connections to terror groups here.

Do we really have to find and go to the root cause of this, Dennis, in that we must deal with the Iranian problem and it probably in, all likelihood, would be military?

ROSS: You know, Iran basically has a strategy to dominate the region. They feel they're entitled to it and they have different ways that they are pursuing it. One is by supporting political movements that also have militias. We see it in Iraq.

HANNITY: Right.

ROSS: We see it in Afghanistan now. You see it in Lebanon and you see it with Hamas.

HANNITY: Right.

ROSS: In addition to that, they are pursuing nuclear weapons.

HANNITY: They are fighting proxy wars, threatening to annihilate Israel and pursuing nuclear weapons. That's a deadly combination.

ROSS: The strategy is designed to undermine all regimes in the area. One of the reasons you have the convergence of interest between many of the Arab regimes with us on this issue.

I do think one of the things we can do is exert leverage on the Iranians. They have all sorts of vulnerabilities. This is a country with huge inflation, huge unemployment.

HANNITY: One refinery.

ROSS: Forty percent of their gasoline has to come in from the outside.

HANNITY: Patricia, let's deal with Iran and the root cause here. We are ultimately headed toward a military confrontation. I know people are humiliated by and upset by the comments of Joe Lieberman. The truth of the matter is, the world is heading in this direction, no?

DEGENNARO: The truth of the matter is that we have an opportunity to engage here right now to engage with the Palestinian people in the West Bank.

HANNITY: And draw them into our side?

DEGENNARO: Exactly. Remove them from the situation and separate them from what's happening or their influence on Iran. I think they prefer to do that.

Using military in Iran now, we need to think about that, considering our situation of our troops in Iraq.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Is that inevitable? I'm listening to my friend, Sean. I'm thinking, if we've got to go to war, we've got to go to war.

DEGENNARO: I don't think it's inevitable.

COLMES: Is it inevitable? And what do you got to do to ward it off?

DEGENNARO: It's absolutely not inevitable. There are lots of things to do to ward it off. Get the business community involved. Get a lot more diplomacy and engagement involved and a lot of the world leaders. We have an opportunity right now at this point.

COLMES: Ambassador Ross, you agree with that.

ROSS: I do, except I would say this. Let's recognize we have slow motion diplomacy dealing with Iran right now in the nuclear issue. And we have fast-paced nuclear development. We have miss match between our objectives and the means we are employing.

I agree with what Patricia says. Iran is vulnerable economically. Most of the Iranian leadership realizes they can't preserve social tranquility on the inside if they get cut off economically on the outside.

Before we go to war, let's cut them off economically and see if we can change their behavior as a result.

COLMES: All roads lead to Iran, professor. Everybody is saying Iran is behind what is happening with Hamas. Iran is behind what is upset in Lebanon. Iran wants to go after Israel. Do we look to Iran for all what's going on or are there other ways we should be focusing here?

DEGENNARO: There are definitely other ways we should be focusing. We have an opportunity right now to separate those links with the separation from the West Bank, with the engagement with the Fatah right now in the new government.

COLMES: The United States stopped giving aid to Hamas when they were elected in 2008 and became part of the legislature. They were never given a full opportunity by Fatah to become part it. Were we right to withdraw our support there and did that lead to the situation we are seeing now?

ROSS: There is two different issues. One is, were we right to withdraw support? Hamas wanted the world to adjust to it. It didn't want to adjust to the world. We were right to put them in a position where they had to adjust, number one.

Number two, I would say at this point, Hamas now has the burden of governing in Gaza. If they want help from the outside, they have to change their behavior.

Now, the last point I would make is they have been planning this for some time. I have been in the preventative security headquarters in Gaza. They tunneled in and blew it up.

Now, to do that tunnel, given where it's located, given the kind of fortress it was, this was a five or six-month plan. This wasn't something they just dreamed up in the last couple of weeks.

COLMES: What does it mean to Israel if now we have Gaza being taken over by Hamas? Without Fatah, there is a mitigating force. What does it mean for Israel?

DEGENNARO: For the safety of Israel, I would definitely be concerned. It gives them a situation right now where they can move forward in the West Bank and show that they are engaged and show that they can make movements as well.

HANNITY: We have got to run. Prediction, chance of war by the end of the summer?

ROSS: Between Israel and its neighbors?

HANNITY: Um-huh.

ROSS: I would say about 25 to 30 percent.

HANNITY: What do you think?

DEGENNARO: I would say -- I would probably say about the same.

HANNITY: Sixty, 70 percent?

COLMES: Let's say it doesn't happen.

DEGENNARO: You are 60 to 70 percent?

COLMES: I hope it doesn't.

DEGENNARO: I hope it doesn't happen.

HANNITY: All right, guys, good to see you. Thank you.

DEGENNARO: Thank you.


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