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Ralph Peters on Gaza

Hannity & Colmes

COLMES: And we turn to our top story. The fierce battle continues in the Gaza Strip. The terror network Hamas now in complete control of the Gaza Strip. Hamas loyalists ransacking the offices and homes belonging to their defeated Fatah rivals, and even taking control over the Gaza City office of President Mahmoud Abbas.

With more reaction, we're now joined by the author of "Never Quit the Fight," Lt. Col. Ralph Peters. Col. Peters, welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes."


COLMES: What about Hamas' claims -- good to have you with us -- their claims that they were elected in 2006 and Fatah never allowed them to do what they were elected to do? Is that a fair argument or position for Hamas to have?

PETERS: Well, I think Hamas certainly did win a democratic election, and they won it because Fatah was woefully corrupt, and Hamas did provide basic services, yet that doesn't change the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization. And what's troubled me about the coverage is people trying to blame Israel, blame the European Union, blame the United States for not backing Hamas. Look, just because Hamas won an election doesn't mean the American taxpayer is obliged to support terrorists.

COLMES: Well, wait a second. But that's not the issue here. We're talking about the political arm of Hamas, which did win an election. We claim we want democracy in the Middle East. And when democracy happens and people are elected, whether it's a weak leader in Iraq or whether it's a Hamas that we don't support, how can we say we support democracy, but then we supply arms, and money, and munitions, do we not, to Fatah on the other side, going against the democratically elected Hamas?

PETERS: Well, Hamas did not win a complete, across-the-board victory. Hamas had a prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh. And he's been an absolute failure. He's been unwilling to work with President Abbas.

And, really, for Hamas, winning an election was just a stepping stone. In Gaza, really what happened was just the opposite of what you described. It was Hamas wouldn't give Fatah any room. They looked at it as a complete victory in a zero-sum game. And what we saw was Hamas and terror actions crowding out Fatah, unwilling to share anything.

COLMES: But, again, wasn't Hamas not allowed to do what it was duly elected to do?

PETERS: No, that's not true. What were they were duly elected to do? They were duly elected to govern. They didn't govern. They just pursued a policy of terror, provoking Israel, killing other Palestinians they didn't like. Look, we respect the results of anybody's free election, but that doesn't mean we have to back terrorists.

COLMES: The Israeli analyst of Ha'aretz, Danny Rubenstein, says about Fatah not sharing power with Hamas is what really led to this, because of the January 2006 elections, not just me saying it. And haven't we been supplying Fatah with money, with munitions, in support, with Israel, to go against Hamas? So are we not complicit on the other side of this conflict?

PETERS: Well, we're not complicit, but we have supplied -- we have helped and approved the provision of weapons to Fatah after Hamas continued to attack Israel, continued to insist that Israel should be destroyed, and Jews exterminated, and pursued terrorist actions.

Look, you've got to fight terror. And, again, winning an election does not give you a license to be a terrorist. But, Alan, you've actually hit on a key point here that people are overlooking: A lot of weapons were supplied to Fatah to help them withstand Hamas aggression.

COLMES: Right.

PETERS: And the bad news is that, right now, Hamas has captured, according to my Israeli sources, as many as 40,000 additional weapons, communications gear.

COLMES: You have that in your article about this. And that's a good point, and that's what we get for supplying and, you know, being a party to this conflict. By the way, in your piece that you wrote about this, you say the "junkyard dog religion" sweeping Arab civilization. Is that your view of Islam, a junkyard dog religion?

PETERS: No. You know what's funny? I knew you were going to ask that. I just knew it. But, no, certainly not, and I have written over and over again that religion is on Earth, as practiced, is what men and women make it.

Islam can be as luminously spiritual as any other religion. But the terrorists and the extremists are practicing, and perverting, and pushing a junkyard dog version of Islam, an extremist version that perverts the religion. And there is a civil war going on within Islam now.

And, really, the crucial thing that relates to Iraq in what we're seeing in Gaza is this: Why did Hamas win in Gaza? You will hear people cite numbers, weapons training, all that matters. But the real reason Hamas won is Fatah were Palestinian nationalists. Hamas is built around a core of religious fanatics. And religious fanatics have a stronger strength of will than nationalists. Nationalists want to win, but they want to live.

LOWRY: Hey, Ralph.

PETERS: Religious fanatics will do anything.

LOWRY: Ralph, it's Rich Lowry. Thanks so much for being with us. I have to say, as you might expect, I part ways with Alan on this. I just don't understand making excuses for an armed terror group, which is what Hamas is, that's totally bent on Israel's destruction.

And, Ralph, it seems this is an awful moment but a clarifying one, because for years, for decades, we've heard that the problem with Palestinian society is the Israeli occupation. Well, guess what? The Israelis left Gaza in 2005. They left it to the Palestinians, and what have they done? They've made it a living hell.

PETERS: Yes, absolutely. And, look, I wrote a dozen years ago that we would not see a settlement of the Middle East crisis in our lifetimes. And, unfortunately, I stand by that, because you can't negotiate and make peace with people that want to exterminate you. And, frankly, I'm not even optimistic about Fatah, the idea of, well, now Fatah are the good guys. Let's remember, Fatah, you know, they're built around a terrorist core, as well.

LOWRY: Right.

PETERS: And I want to be optimistic. We all want peace. But you can't built peace on a tissue of lies, on a foundation of fantasies. And we are facing absolute fanaticism in the Middle East, and we're pretending religion doesn't matter.

LOWRY: Where does it come from, do you think? Because the Palestinian society just seems to be in the grip of this death cult. The other day, you had a mother suicide bomber, a mother of eight who was nine months pregnant, intercepted on her way to a suicide mission in Israel. That's just mind-boggling.

PETERS: Yes, actually, I don't want to get too woolly for the viewers out there. It's Friday night, after all. But there is a historical pattern that I can trace back 3,000 years. I mean, it's just there time and again.

When a civilization fails, as Middle Eastern Islamic civilization has failed, comprehensively, when a civilization fails, people look for somebody to blame, and they default to blood and belief, ethnicity and religion, and fundamentalist religion. And what you're seeing now is a predictable return of a failed civilization, erratic civilization in the Middle East, to fanatic religion, and there's no easy answer.

COLMES: Hey, Ralph, if we're going to support democratic elections, we have to live with the results or we shouldn't support pure democratic elections, where people get elected we don't think we can live with. That's part of the problem, isn't it?

PETERS: No, Alan, I just don't think that's true. You can support democracy and respect democratic outcomes as long as the new government or the party that comes to power obeys the rule of law, of international conventions.

COLMES: We thank you for being with us.

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