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Hannity

Barak: Israel's Presence in Lebanon Produced Hezbollah

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 25, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Earlier, Sean and I spoke with former Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLMES: When you were prime minister, you've been criticized by some for giving too much to the other side, to the Palestinians. And they didn't even accept that. In retrospect, given what's going on now, do you regret anything that you offered during those negotiations?

EHUD BARAK, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: No. I don't regret anything. Basically, I ordered the eventual pull-out from the last square inch of Lebanon after a tragedy that stretched over 18 years and cost us the lives of thousands of Israelis without ever protecting the northern border against Katyushas.

But it is only because we pulled out from the last square inch, backed by the U.N. Security Council resolution 425 at the time, that we occupied the moral high ground. And now have a legitimate kind of opportunity to strike on the Hezbollah and respond.

Moreover, the only reason that the U.N. could impose upon Assad Jr. to pull out from Lebanon, was the fact that the Israelis pulled out. Otherwise, he would never have pulled out. He would justify his presence by the fact that we are present there.

So it is only because we were out, we can now strike very forcefully on the Hezbollah.

COLMES: What do you hope Condoleezza Rice can accomplish while she's in the Mideast?

BARAK: She can prepare during this visit her next visit probably a week from now where she might see whether all the elements are coming together to create the ceasefire that she tries to achieve. She probably reaches less than we now hope, but hopefully better than we are afraid.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Mr. Prime Minister, Israel pulled out of Lebanon, what, six years ago. They've pulled out of Gaza now. Has it basically just resulted in the enemies of Israel allowed them to get closer?

Does this prove once and for all that land for peace can never work with an enemy that is sworn to the destruction of the State of Israel? Does that prove that that to be a fallacy?

BARAK: I'm confident that we cannot seriously negotiate with Hezbollah or Hamas. They are exactly like Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden. You cannot negotiate with them. We cannot negotiate with them, because those guys are getting orders from heaven and the orders are to destroy you. So you cannot negotiate anything.

But that doesn't mean that you should fall into traps and do something that serves them. It means that we should create a situation where we can genuinely teach them very forcefully whenever they try to attack our soil.

And I think that in the short term, many people tend to believe, oh, there is a closer link between our pullouts and the next eruption of violence. I think the opposite. Hezbollah has not been created and sharpened because we left Lebanon, but because we stayed there for too long.

They were not there when we entered Lebanon 20 years ago. And Hamas was not there when we took over the Judean Samarian. They were created as a result of our staying.

So the real profound consequence is that we should make clear that we have a solid entity called Israel. Within its border, there should be a solid Jewish majority for generations to come, and we should do it as to feel confident, be strong enough to hit whoever tries to attack us without any hesitation.

HANNITY: Mr. Prime Minister, there's been some debate about whether or not to ultimately root out the cancer of this terror group, Hezbollah, whether or not an incursion is going to be able to do the job vs. an invasion.

Do you think you're just basically dealing with surface issues and not getting to the root cause if you don't root out of all of these terrorists?

BARAK: I think that you can totally or try to totally erase it by conquering all of Lebanon or half of Lebanon. The point is that these elements, unlike a conventional army, which always sticks to its weapons system, command and control positions and basic installations, and you can hit them there. These are very evasive entities.

In a minute, they can turn into civilians. They come out of the civilian population, shoot, and immediately, within two minutes, they are back civilians. So you cannot pick them one by one.

And once you enter and conquer the whole country, you create the roots of the next wave of jihadists and supporters. You know, somehow the genuine voices came out from Lebanon against Hezbollah at the beginning of this campaign, was the result of our readiness to disengage ourselves from them.

Now, the price is that you do not totally destroy them, and the right answer is that we should create a situation where the sovereign state of Lebanon will turn normal. Namely, do not allow a political party with members in the cabinet having their own active militia. And the sudden pressure, diplomatic hopefully will suffice, on Syria to stop transporting the rockets into the Lebanese area and to Hezbollah.

HANNITY: Mr. Prime Minister, did I hear you correctly a few moments ago when you said that when Israel was in Lebanon and perhaps stayed too long, that aided or contributed to the proliferation of Hezbollah?

BARAK: Of course, our very presence there produced the Hezbollah. I remember them at the beginning, when they began to operate after a few years that we were there, and you could shoot them like ducks, in a kind of way.

But later on, as the result of the hits that we inflicted on them and as the result of natural selections about those who survived, they improved greater. There is a learning curve.

So the more you stay in a place where it is abnormal, namely, controlling or reigning over another people, the more resistance you create, and it becomes more and more professional along a long time.

COLMES: Isn't that a signal that proportional response is so important, so that you don't create those conditions again?

BARAK: No, I don't think. Once you are in an operation, I would accelerate it. We don't have to gain anything from stretching over another few weeks. If we could complete it within 72 hours, it was better. If we cannot in 72 hours, probably in two weeks.

But it should be, from our point of view, the shorter the better. On the other hand, we should not sway in front of the resistance and keep hitting on them, even if they keep launching rockets.

So a balance should be hit here, and I hope that we are pushing toward the bottom line results in a cohesive and consistent way.

HANNITY: Mr. Prime Minister, how do you then define victory? Victory must be complete. You have to take out Hezbollah, correct? You must defeat them.

BARAK: No. Unfortunately, no. The ultimate victory in this struggle against terror will be reached probably in a decade from now when all the rogue state regimes will be replaced and nuclear proliferation potentially into the hands of terrorists will be blocked, and no country will dare to host terrorists.

It's not going to be an easy struggle, a marathon, clearly with a lot of ups and downs.

Now, in our own place, it's impractical now to eradicate Hezbollah forever, but it's quite practical to hit them very effectively, to push them out of the border, to establish a robust force to protect the border and help the Lebanese — own force to assert its authority.

And, hopefully, when Syria and Lebanon could be brought to comply with 1559, things will begin to improve.

Now, I have an added recommendation to the world leaders. The world should join hands in order to coerce the Syrians and the Lebanese into compliance with 1559, because basically it's a very simple resolution to be executed.

If the world leadership fails in coercing the participants to comply with 1559, how can we seriously dare to believe that Kim Jong-Il could be coerced into stopping his defiance of the world and the ayatollahs in Iran could be coerced into stopping the military nuclear active program?

COLMES: Mr. Prime Minister, we thank you so much for you time and being on our show this evening. Thank you, sir.

HANNITY: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

BARAK: Thank you for having me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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