What Is the President's Mideast Policy?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 5, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

 

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Today at the White House, President Obama met with Israeli president, Shimon Peres, talked a lot, according to both men, about the winds of change blowing through the Arab world as both a challenge and an opportunity. This meeting coming, of course, the same week that Richard Goldstone, he's the author of a 2009 report about the 22-day conflict in Gaza, a scathing report back then about Israeli action on civilians.

He wrote an op-ed in the "Washington Post" saying this, quote, "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document...civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy. Regrettably, there has been no effort by Hamas in Gaza to investigate the allegations of its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity."

Well, amnesty international released a reaction to all of this today saying, quote "As a spokesperson for the Human Rights Council made clear today comments made in an opinion piece do not provide a sufficient legal basis for overturning a U.N. report that has been discussed and endorsed by both the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. Nor are the self-serving calls of Israeli political leaders, some of whom were members of the Israeli war cabinet which made the policy decisions."

What about all of this? Back with the panel. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: That Amnesty International reaction is an indication of how much the Goldstone op-ed, this retraction, this weasely, excuse-laden retraction is too little and too late. What he did in this report, the one that he's now saying wasn't true, did incalculable damage to Israel by accusing it -- remember, the only Jewish state on the planet is accused of carrying out a war in which it deliberately is a matter of its policy, attacks innocence, which was never true.

In its 62 years, Israel has been under continual attack by terrorist and by large armies and has conducted itself with more restraint, more humanity and more care about civilians and combatants than any army anywhere in the world. That's what makes the original report a blood libel, ranking with the libels of a 19th century in which the Jews were accused of virtually slaughtering children in order to use the blood in rituals.

This ranks with that because it delegitimizes Israel as a war crime state, and once it's delegitimized, it legitimizes all those who wanted to destroy Israel. He should spend the rest of his life undoing the damage and changing and retracting that report. A single op-ed is certainly not enough.

BAIER: President Peres did mention this after the meeting. We don't know how extensive the talks were about this in the meeting in the oval office.

JUAN WILLIAMS, THEHILL.COM: Well, I think what we got out of the read-out from the meeting was that they did -- that President Obama was intent on saying that we have to do more to take advantage of this spring awakening in the Arab world and in specific to do more to build up what's there in terms of Palestine so that they can go back to this model of the two-state solution, but, you know, what happened here with Goldstone is very interesting because the fact is that, you know, 1,400 people died. So, somehow people died, and the fact that you don't have Hamas and the others taking responsibility is a shame.

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: Yeah, there's a real problem of moral equivalence in this Goldstone -- even in the Goldstone op-ed, where it is no secret that Hamas targets civilians. That's what Hamas does. I mean, Hamas is about lobbing indiscriminate bombs on civilians. That is what they do. And to make it sound as if, oh, well, Hamas hasn't investigated this policy. Well that's -- everyone knows that is their policy. That is what they are.

On the Shimon Peres thing, look, I think that -- what my big concern, is that I mean, I think clearly Bibi Netanyahu sent Peres here because Peres is a loved figure in Israel, has a much better relationship with Obama than Bibi Netanyahu does, but what I would fear is that Obama is sort of applying the same principles that he's doing with Libya to Israel and letting the quartet do things that are against -- that are very harsh on Israel because he doesn't have the political courage or capital to do it himself.

BAIER: That is it for the panel, but stay tuned for what might have been a tough start to a campaign launch.

 

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