OTR Interviews

Former Sen. Thompson: Cease-fire with Hamas won't solve underlying problems, Israel may have to employ ground forces

Former senator sounds off on the US' need to back up its key ally and protect its interests in the Middle East and the chances of a cease-fire


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: As noted, in Israel tonight, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying the U.S. is pushing for a deal that moves towards a comprehensive peace for all people of the region. Is that possible?

Former senator Fred Thompson joins us. You know, I read that, Senator, I think, Boy, wouldn't that be great, but it almost seems delusional when we look at sort of the history and look at where we are.

FRED THOMPSON, FORMER TENNESSEE SENATOR: Yes. Yes. We -- Israel left Gaza in 2004, turned it over to them, you know, felt like they'd get a little credit in the international community, felt like that they might be taking a step toward peace and reconciliation.

And of course, they've been getting missiles lobbed at them essentially ever since. It very well may be that it would be best for them not to reach a cease-fire. I hope we don't feel like that we should go in there and manufacture some kind of a cease-fire because none of the underlying problems are going to change.

Hamas is sending their children in to die in order to be able to kill innocent Israeli children. They feel like they're an occupied territory by the Israelis. That's not going to change. They have devoted themselves and their lives to this endeavor, to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

If they stop lobbing the missiles, they're still going to have missiles underground. They're still going to have their tunnels. They're still going to have the missiles placed around in residential areas and all that. They're still going to have Iran there supplying longer and longer and longer-range missiles that can now terrorize Tel Aviv and almost reach Jerusalem. They're still going to have the routes, as you pointed out, to get the missiles in there.

I'm afraid the Israelis are going to have to go in there with ground forces, that they're loathe to reach some kind of a temporary cease-fire knowing all of that framework is still there. They're going to have to go in there and clean out that vipers' nest.

VAN SUSTEREN: Except for one thing. I mean, the human cost is tremendous, if that happens. I mean, there's going to be a slaughter of so many innocent people for the Hamas terrorists in there. There's no question about that.

But I wonder if, you know, all the attention is -- you know, all our attention right is on this narrow area. But without Iran being able to channel these weapons to Hamas and without Egypt being complicit in providing -- and Sudan, President Bashir of Sudan -- I wonder if we're -- you know, if we're not looking farther down the chain, if our eye -- you know, the world's attention shouldn't instead be on Iran because if you choke off their weapons...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... you know, they -- they have a hard -- I mean...

THOMPSON: You're absolutely...

VAN SUSTEREN: If you don't have a rocket, you can't send a rocket.

THOMPSON: There's no -- there's no solution without bringing Iran into compliance with reason. And there's nothing on the horizon to think that's going to be the case.

What's most troubling, even moreso than the loss of life that you're talking about, is the bigger picture that you refer to, as Rudy and you were discussing, and just, you know, recent history we have -- we have -- we have, in effect, lost Egypt, I think. We're still sending them a billion dollars and a half every year.

But as they denounce Iran and say they want to be -- I mean, as they denounce Israel and say they want to be an honest broker -- Turkey used to be our strongest ally in the area. They've gone rogue on us now. They're calling the Israelis terrorists.

We don't know what's going to happen in Syria. Hezbollah is sitting up there to Israel's north, waiting their turn. They're occupied now in Syria. But of course, Iran is behind them, too. So you got Hamas from the west, you got Hezbollah from the north, and the entire squeeze play is on.

And we've got -- we -- we're pledged to defend Israel and their existence. We have told Iran that we will not let them have nuclear weapons. Obviously, the Gulf down there, the -- is important to us from an energy standpoint, vital interests there, and yet the situation seems to be getting worse as we kind of step back and just kind of let all that take care of itself. We're kind of losing out.

VAN SUSTEREN: But the -- but -- you know, for the last -- you know, I was in Sudan in April, and President Bashir is torturing and killing his people. And it's just unbelievable what he's doing. And he is the guy, the Sudan, who has this munitions factory that they suspect is owned by Iran that the Israelis just took out about a month ago. He's the one that was letting them assemble these rockets to go to Egypt to go into Gaza.

And he was given a state visit, or essentially, a state visit by President Morsi two months ago, when he should have been indicted the minute he stepped out of his country because he's under indictment for genocide for the Darfur! I mean, there's all these webs here of all these horrible people, and everyone looks the other way!

THOMPSON: And there's some consistent, you know, big picture developments. And one is the expansion of the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. All this is about, I think, is Hamas wanting to get everybody's attention. We're players, too, along with Hezbollah, and we want to speak on behalf of the Islamic radicals in this country and...

VAN SUSTEREN: They could -- but they could be -- if Iran didn't supply them, they'd be cut off. I mean, that's, like -- you know, they -- they can't live without Iran.

THOMPSON: There's no question about that. But not only is that not happening, but Iran apparently continues toward a nuclear capability. When that happens, Saudi Arabia is going to have a nuclear capability. Every other country in the gulf area is going to be thinking about developing one. And the situation you see today is going to be child's play compared to what it'll be like then.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you...

THOMPSON: I have more good news.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's that?

THOMPSON: No, I'm just -- it's Thanksgiving.


VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Senator. It is Thanksgiving.