OTR Interviews

Krauthammer: Kerry is 'clueless' and oblivious in Gaza

Charles Krauthammer says U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has made serious mistakes in his recent cease-fire diplomacy.


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 1, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The latest Middle East cease-fire lasting less than two hours before Hamas broke it. Secretary of State John Kerry taking a lot of heat over his failed cease-fire attempts.

Charles Krauthammer calling Secretary Kerry clueless and oblivious. Charles Krauthammer the author of "Things That Matter," been on the "New York Times" best-seller list forever. Charles joins us.

Good to see you, Charles.


VAN SUSTEREN: Clueless in Gaza. Why?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, for two weeks -- or two weeks ago, the Egyptians put forth a cease-fire in place. And instead of just accepting it and saying this is the U.S. position, insisting on it, Kerry went off to Paris and negotiated with Hamas' lawyers and allies, Qatar and Turkey, and came back with a proposal that essentially backed all of Hamas' demands. And the reason he was clueless is it wasn't just an Egyptian proposal. It was supported by the Arab League, wall-to-wall coalition. An amazing new kind of coalition: Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt, and even the Palestinian Authority.

VAN SUSTEREN: Twenty two members of the Arab League minus Syria.

KRAUTHAMMER: Minus Syria and Qatar who are essentially saying they don't want to see Hamas rewarded, flourish, they actually want to see a diminished and3, in fact, overthrown because it is one of the leading edges of Islamism radicalism in the region. So, presented with the wall-to-wall coalition of Arab partners what he did was stepped all over it and astonished the Palestinian, the Palestinian authority, the moderate wing by bringing back all of the Hamas to terms. Now, in the end that didn't work, in the end Kerry was able to arrange something like the original Egyptian cease-fire. Finally he got a clue, I think it was the, you know, the criticism he got especially from the Arabs. But -- and I don't blame him at all for the breakdown of the cease-fire. That lies in the hands of Islam and Jihad and that's why we're in a crisis which will absolutely escalate.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it possible -- I mean, I see this from reading what you wrote and what others is that, having gone to Paris, he sort of validated Hamas and now he can't sort of backed it up, he can't sort of dial back that he's now got to give Hamas something maybe Hamas shouldn't have as Israel tries to protect itself long term.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I think the breaking of the cease-fire and kidnapping of the soldier has given Kerry an opportunity to walk it all back, which he did and I commend him and the president. Because what they did today is they seized on this gross violation of a cease-fire. After all, if your policy is to arrange it, Israel wants to have one, everyone wants to have one and other guy within an hour and a half kills two of your soldiers during a cease-fire and kidnaps, then how can you have a cease- fire? So, they were very tough in demanding to return of the soldier and I think it has given him an opportunity to walk back all the demands he had made or all the proposals that Hamas had demanded that he had brought from Paris.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Hamas is just getting pummeled on the ground, maybe not in the world of public opinion because they've been very effective in the world of public opinion and many that are, you know, are slapping Israel and not Hamas. But, you know, I'd say they're getting pummeled on the ground, had this been some sort of errant officer that did the kidnapping or something, they should have at leave jump out at and let them go or something. But instead, they back it up by doing nothing.

KRAUTHAMMER: And it's going to be worse. They're going to play cat and mouse. Is he alive, is he not? Hezbollah did that for years with two Israelis that they had kidnapped. In the end it turned out they had been dead the whole time. Israel exchanged a lot of prisoners in return for their bodies. They will play that cruel game, they won't let Israelis know, they'll drag it up. And I think the fact that Kerry and the president were very angry about this, because this is a fundamental issue, this doesn't -- whatever the merits of the case, I they are quite strongly on Israel's side.

So, even if you're agnostic on that, when you have a cease-fire, which is the only way that you can progress on this and save lives and then you don't honor it and you kidnap and kill, that means everything is gone and you are truly to blame. I just hope that we stick to our hard and consistent and honest line now in saying this will rest on the shoulders of Hamas. The onus is on them to give the soldier back and to establish a real cease-fire.

VAN SUSTEREN: And if only the rest of the world would likewise get on that program.

KRAUTHAMMER: The rest of the world's reaction to what's happening in Gaza is Orwellian, it is shocking, especially in Europe. It is a resurgence of anti-Semitism not seen since the `30s, this is a recurrence, it's all over the world, and don't tell me its anti-Zionism. You listen to the slogan, you see the sign, Hitler was right in Germany, a sign in Germany saying that this is a veneer that is a front for anti-Semitism and it is back, it's all over the world. And that's what we're now beginning to face.

VAN SUSTEREN: and I read on Bloomberg News today, 53p percent up in anti-Semitic attacks in London alone. Anyway, Charles, nice to see you. I should say this year. Nice to see you, Charles.