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Interview With John Bolton on Gaza, Iran

Hannity & Colmes

COLMES: [....] Meanwhile, we're following breaking developments tonight in the Middle East, where once again the region seems on the brink of war. Fighting in the Gaza Strip escalated today, as Hamas gunmen took control of the Fatah security headquarters and reportedly executed people in the street. President Mahmoud Abbas has declared a state of emergency tonight. He has dissolved the government and says he will form a new one. And late tonight, there's word that Abbas' presidential compound has fallen to Hamas militants.

The Arab world fears that this conflict could spread and engulf the entire region in war. The head of the Arab League is asking for a cease- fire tonight and warns of disaster if the fighting spreads to the West Bank and beyond.

Joining us now with the very latest on this developing situation, former ambassador to the United Nations and FOX News contributor, John Bolton. Ambassador, welcome back. What happens here? Where does this go?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, I think the greatest probability is that the fighting spreads to the West Bank. I don't think Hamas will be satisfied simply ruling the Gaza Strip. And if that's the case, then, given the number of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, the likelihood of Israel being drawn in militarily will grow.

COLMES: And if Israel is drawn in militarily, what does that say for the United States?

BOLTON: Well, I think we will obviously be supplying Israel, but I don't think that implies any military participation by the United States. The real question is whether the violence can be contained just on the West Bank or whether, for example, Hezbollah and Lebanon takes action there, as well.

COLMES: Hamas has said they have no interest in staying. They just want to ward off a coup, which they say is favored by a faction within Fatah that is not letting them govern as they say they were duly elected to do.

BOLTON: Well, if you watched what happened in Gaza over the past several days, this was a very systematic, sustained, well-thought-out campaign. I think this is a coup d'etat. I think Mahmoud Abbas is right about that, and I think it will continue. The real issue is, did Hamas decide to do this on its own or did some outside force, like Iran, have something to do with it?

COLMES: And we got into that -- a couple of nights ago, you were on the show. We talked about that. You believe Iran is complicit here. And what evidence, if you believe that, do you have of that?

BOLTON: There's no doubt that Iran funds and supply Hamas with weapons. The issue -- and I put it in the form of a question -- is whether Iran has something more in mind, whether they're responsible here, and whether Iran might fire up Hezbollah to try and overthrow the government in Lebanon.

COLMES: All right. If you believe that is true, and if you believe this will spread to Israel, and we don't actually fight but supply Israel, and Iran is supplying Hamas, are we then in a de facto war with Iran as a result of going -- well, you just a few moments ago said where you think this could go?

BOLTON: As I said to the other night, I think we're in a de facto war with Iran now in Iraq, because of the actions they're taking against our coalition forces there. But I think what this shows is that Iran is on a roll in the region. They're pushing out. They're not getting any pushback. If Hamas succeeds in taking over all of the West Bank and Gaza, and if Hezbollah moves in Lebanon, then I think you're going to see an Iran with more influence in the region than ever before.

COLMES: You say no push back, and I got the sense -- we've talked a number of times about this. You favor pushback. You want the United States to get involved with Iran militarily, or you think it's inevitable. And I don't see how we do that. I don't know where the personnel comes from. I don't where the money comes from. We're mired in Iraq. We have people repeating tour after tour after tour. How do we do that?

BOLTON: Well, I think, with respect to the nuclear program, that the military option is an important one. I think, with respect to the support for terrorism around the region, that there are a number of steps we can take well short of military force, but would show Iran that we're simply not going to tolerate this. For example, in the case of Lebanon, a dramatic increase in support for the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Siniora.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Ambassador, welcome back to the program. I want to stay on the issue of Iran, if I can here. It was also revealed that they are supplying weaponry on the Taliban. We know they're supplying weaponry to the insurgency in Iraq. They're funding Hezbollah to the tune of $100 million a year. You confirm this supporting and funding Hamas here. We know the IAEA says they may have a nuclear weapon in three years. It almost seems imperative that we act at some point or we will regret that we missed this opportunity.

BOLTON: I think what we really need is to convince the Europeans that Iran represents a serious threat, both through its pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support of terrorist groups. And I regret to say that, to date, the Europeans simply do not see the Iranian threat the way we do.

HANNITY: Where do we see any support from the European community, with Tony Blair exiting? We do have, I guess, a little bit of hope with Sarkozy in France. There seems to be a shift in attitude there. But where will the support come from, if they don't see the nature of the threat at this point?

BOLTON: Well, I think, on Iran's nuclear weapons program, at some point somebody in Europe has to say, "You know, we've been trying this for four years. We've tried this behavioral approach," which is what they call trying to change Iran's behavior, and Iran's behavior isn't changed. After four years of failure, I think it's time to call it quits. And it may well be, with Sarkozy assuming the presidency in France, there's a chance of that.

HANNITY: Well, we see more than that. We see the pursuit of nuclear weapons escalating more and more every day. The incendiary rhetoric continues towards Israel in particular. As we're watching these events unfold here, my great fear is Israel will be drawn in, and that could end up being Israel versus Iran by proxy in some way. Is that possible?

BOLTON: Well, I think it is Israel versus Iran by proxy already with respect to Hamas. It was last summer with respect to Hezbollah. The question is whether there is a grand plan here by Iran or these are simply local conflicts that have gotten out of control. I don't think we have the evidence one way or the other at this point.

HANNITY: This, though, has the potential of really getting out of control, no?

BOLTON: Well, if it escalates in several different places at the same time. But I think on Iran's mind is the fact they've pushed against the United States. We have not pushed back. They took British hostages, and they got a softly, softly response from Britain.

HANNITY: Let me ask this last question. If Israel is drawn into this conflict, we have to support Israel, do we not?

BOLTON: There's no doubt about it. And if Israeli settlers on the West Bank are threatened by a Hamas-Fatah civil war, there's no doubt the Israelis will take strong action to defend their own citizens.

COLMES: If you're Iran, and you hear this incendiary rhetoric toward Iran from certain people in the United States about how we have to take military action, what would you do if you're Iran?

BOLTON: Well, I wish they worried that much about me anymore, but I don't think that's really what motivates...

COLMES: But you're not the only one saying this. Does Iran respond to this incendiary rhetoric?

BOLTON: You know, Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons for close...

(CROSSTALK)

BOLTON: That has nothing to do with incendiary...

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: But they're going to feel they've got to defend themselves if they think an attack is imminent and people...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Stop saying you're going to wipe Israel off the map.

BOLTON: I think that they went well beyond that over a period of decades by supporting Hezbollah and Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Condi Rice calls them the world's central banker of terrorism.

COLMES: She's also negotiating with them. But we...

BOLTON: Actually she's not yet.

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: Thank you, Ambassador, we've got to run. We thank you very much.


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