All-Star Panel: Next steps in escalating conflict near Israel, Gaza border

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 16, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israel has made it clear that it will not tolerate rocket and missile attacks on its civilians. I hope that Hamas and the other terror organizations in Gaza got the message. If not, Israel is prepared to take whatever action is necessary to defend our people.


CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: Prime Minister Netanyahu leaving no doubt Israel will not tolerate continued shelling from Gaza. And we're back now with a panel. I think you have to say it's a mess. The shelling, the missiles from Gaza have continued. Israel has now called up thousands of reservists, raising the real possibility of an invasion and a ground war between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza.

And just now we have learned that the president and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had a telephone conversation this evening released from the White House. It says "The two leaders discussed options for de-escalating the situation." Charles, what do you think of the chances of situation will escalate or de-escalate?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's not in the hands of Obama, it's not in the hands of the United States. The de-escalation would have to come from Hamas, who obviously are the ones who started this with 150 rockets shot in the few days shortly after Election Day. That's what caused this round. Israel has no interest in attacking Gaza, but it had to retaliate because its population was being attacked.

So why is Hezbollah involved in this? It's asserting itself as a strategic equal to Israel, no longer the weak sister, a party as strong as Hezbollah. It showed it's got rockets, the (INAUDIBLE) rocket from Iran, which surprised the Israelis by reaching Jerusalem, which hasn't been hit by a rocket since 1970. It knows it has Egypt as a very strong ally behind it. In the past Egypt was neutral or quietly pro-Israel. The Egyptian -- the Muslim Brotherhood is making very strong threats against Israel. So it's strengthened in that way. Turkey, a former Israeli ally is now pro-Gaza. So the strategist situation in the region has changed radically.

And what Hamas wants to show is that it is the leader of the Palestinians when its rival, Fatah, led by Abu Mazen is going to the U.N. like a supplicant and trying to get a seat in the U.N. And Hamas is saying "We are the defenders of jihad, of the homeland and we can stand up against the Israelis and we can make them and the United States ask for a de-escalation." That is a huge strategic achievement for what was once a small insurgency called Hamas.

WALLACE: Fred, what do you think of the chances that -- and we could be talking this weekend, that the Israelis go over the border and we've got a full scale ground war.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well the first thing is the Israelis do not want to do that. They know what the situation is, they know what happened the last time they sent troops into Gaza, the world with the exception of the United States jumps on them as if it's all their fault, even though it is clear, as Charles said, that Hamas started this. There is an issue that does involve the United States directly -- Egypt, which gets what, a trillion or 2 trillion dollars a year from the U.S. in aid --

WALLACE: Not a trillion, a billion.

BARNES: OK, that's what I meant, sorry.

WALLACE: We're not that generous.

BARNES: I'm used to saying trillion these days. In any case, a huge amount of money and Egypt is there supporting a country, rather, supporting Hamas and its attack on Israel and the spokesman for Hamas now says -- said today that no Israeli is safe anywhere in Israel, or as he said, in Palestine, we can go after any of them. Now that country is one where -- Egypt is one that's supporting Hamas in this and we're sending them all of this aid money? It seems to me we should stop immediately.

WALLACE: I want to pick up on that because one of the most interesting aspects of this, obviously, the most interesting and important is what happens on the ground between Israel and the Palestinians. But this is the first confrontation in the new post-Arab spring Middle East world, and you have now not Mubarak who the U.S. convinced hands off, but you've got Morsi, the president who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, he sent his prime minister there, and what role is Egypt going to play and are they going to perhaps reconsider their peace treaty with Israel.

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Well I think first of all in terms of President Obama he's been standing with Israel. And I think that Fred is right, he has a lot of work to do with the Egyptian president and to work behind the scenes and try to bring them around so that won't happen. And there has been grand standing on the part of Egypt and aligning themselves with Hamas. So I think that the president has a lot of work to do behind the scenes with, you know, with Egypt and Turkey and trying to bring people around and get them on the same page.

WALLACE: Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: I think the most obvious lesson of all of this is that the America's theory on democracy in the developing world is not just wrong, but completely wrong. Gaza and Egypt are a lot more democratic than they were a decade ago, in part because of actions the United States took, and as a direct result of the increased democracy in both places they're both more anti-American and they're both more dangerous Israel. So this ought to tell us something about the limits of self-government if we're being honest about it, and I think we should be.

The second point I would make is that we do have some leverage thanks to years of billion dollar checks sent to not just to Egypt, but to Turkey and a lot of countries in the region that are making noises in support of Gaza. It seems to me our role, the American role ought to be to remind those countries they have an awful lot to lose if they step up their support for this nonsense, for the attacks on Israel.

WALLACE: But when you say that there are limits to the idea of democracy, and clearly, democracy, you could end up with your enemies, taking over –

CARLSON: It's made them more radical, more --

WALLACE: -- but what choice did we have when you've got hundreds of thousands of people in Tahrir Square?

CARLSON: Oh, I don't know, let's flip it around. Does any wise person think it would a good idea to give the disenfranchised masses in, say, Saudi Arabia, the Saudi kingdom, or say Jordan, the vote? No. And we have telegraphed time and again. In fact, it's been a core of our foreign policy to tell people around the world you deserve a vote. Look what happened.

POWERS: No, no, democracy spreading thing exactly can lead to this kind of stuff. But the point is we had no control over what happened in Egypt. That was going to happen whether or not we were involved or not.

CARLSON: But we incited it for many years.

POWERS: But, I mean, if we could have backed Mubarak in a way that didn't alienate the entire world then we probably would have. But I'm totally with you. I do think that people need to think through the democracy spreading agenda.

WALLACE: All right, that's it for the panel. We will stay on top of this all weekend and on "Special -- on "Fox News Sunday" -- I forget which show I'm anchoring these days -- this is what happens when, as Charles says, you work on weekdays. Stay tuned to show Joe Biden on a sitcom last night for real.   

Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.