This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," January 7, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: As the situation in Israel remains intense, President-elect Barack Obama promises that he will engage immediately on the Middle East situation once he takes office, but what will his policy become, come January 20?
Well, back in 2006, while interviewing with a Chicago-based political interview program, Obama was asked about the issue of Hezbollah sending missiles into Israel from Lebanon. Here's how the president-elect responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think that Israel needs to take more initiative in dealing with the Palestinian crisis, which is different from the crisis with Hezbollah.
But — but I think when it comes to Hezbollah, this was initiated by Hezbollah, and the fact of the matter is, is that Israel has a legitimate interest in not having missiles aimed at towns all across its borders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Joining us now is the man who conducted that interview, the host and producer of "Public Affairs," Jeff Berkowitz, is with us.
Jeff, welcome to the program. Thanks for being here.
JEFF BERKOWITZ, HOST/PRODUCER, "PUBLIC AFFAIRS": Hi, Sean, good to be with you.
HANNITY: All right. Here's — I'm trying to look at that and understand that. Because here's — here's what we know.
Now, we know that Israel gave land for peace, gave up Gaza, and the implication was that there was going to be peace that ensued. Now, since that time in the last year, 3,000 rockets is the number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel this year. Three thousand of them. And now they go deeper into Israel than they ever have before.
I'm surprised that the president-elect isn't standing four square behind Israel, because I don't think that — would America take that kind of attack? Why isn't he doing that?
BERKOWITZ: Well, he's the president-elect. He's been saying all along, America has only one president at a time. You can get into the economic issues, because there's not going to be a controversy...
HANNITY: Go ahead.
BERKOWITZ: There's not going to be a controversy on the economic issues. There is on foreign policy. And so you can't expect Obama to start talking about right now as to what he will do on January 20 in dealing with the Middle East crisis.
HANNITY: Wait a minute. Let me understand this, because Israel was pressured for years and years to give up Gaza, weren't they? And Hamas is a terrorist organization that is sworn to Israel's destruction. They get part of their money, and they're funded in part by Hamas.
They are firing these missiles from school zones to protect themselves. They're using, you know, kids as human shields, but they're a terror group.
What would be so — so dramatic about the president-elect standing against terrorism with moral clarity?
BERKOWITZ: Well, I think, come the 20th, he will make clear, as he has said many times, if somebody's shooting missiles into his daughter's bedroom, he's going to do everything to protect them, and he understands what the Israelis are doing to stop those missiles.
On the other hand, I think, he's going to make also very clear is that Israel and...
HANNITY: Wait a minute. But that's not what he said to you.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey, Jeff, the fact of the matter is that he is president- elect, and if he were — and this is Alan, by the way. Welcome to our show.
If he were to...
BERKOWITZ: Hi, Alan.
COLMES: If he were to start speaking out now, giving his foreign policy views or a vision of what he would do, you'd have the same people who are criticizing him for not speaking out, saying, "How dare he interfere with what the president of the United States is doing. He's not president yet," right?
BERKOWITZ: Right. I mean, in 2006 I think he made very clear what he was saying to me, and what he was saying, it's quite similar, a different situation. But he didn't have to worry about speaking out then. He wasn't the president-elect. He was a U.S. senator.
BERKOWITZ: I was asking for his views on that situation. Totally appropriate for him to speak out. So, Sean, if he doesn't say these things come January 20, then I think your concerns would be entirely legitimate, but on January 7, it's quite different.
COLMES: Let me ask you what your sense is because you — in talking about your interviews with him, you'd said he would go very quickly from local to national to international issues, without skipping a beat. And it sounds like you seemed very impressed with his command of the issues.
BERKOWITZ: Yes. He's always said that. When he ran for the U.S. Senate — and I followed that campaign, that Democratic primary closely — he said he knows the issue, he has a vision, and he speaks out. He's very proud that he's been talking about national issues for a long, long time.
My first show was with him, and I got to know him, in 2001. He knew the national issues then as a state senator. He's a smart guy. He's a pragmatic guy, but he's a cautious guy.
COLMES: By the way, he did say, "The loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of great concern to me, and after January 20, I'll have plenty to say about it." He said, "I'm not backing away at all from what I said during the campaign. Starting at the beginning of our administration, we're going to be engaging effectively and consistently in trying to resolve the conflicts that exist in the Middle East."
Do you have a sense of which way he is going to go with this, based on your interviews with him?
BERKOWITZ: Yes. I mean, I sense he's going to try to do something to stop those missiles from coming into Israel. At the same time he's going to urge Israel to take some initiatives. He's going to talk about more commerce, more trade, more aid to the Palestinians.
He may try to go over the heads of Hamas right to the Palestinians. I could see him going to West Bank. I could see him going to Gaza. I could see him going to Israel, and that followed up by Clinton and General Jim Jones and his foreign policy crew.
COLMES: Diplomacy. All right, Jeff. Thank you very much. Appreciate you being on the show tonight. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.
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