There is not going to be peace as long as Benjamin Netanyahu is the Prime Minister of Israel; it was Netanyahu who broke off talks in April, Dr. Charles Cogan, former CIA officer, told RT.
RT: Hamas says it has captured an Israeli soldier. The IDF has denied the claims, but if it is true how much of an impact would that have on the fighting?
Charles Cogan: I think it would have a considerable impact considering what happened in the case of Gilad Shalit; they released finally after 5 years, 1,000 Hamas prisoners in exchange of him. Israel looks after its beleaguered citizens; there is no question about that.
RT: John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, was recently caught off mic talking about the Israeli tactics in Gaza. He said to his aide that “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.” "We've got to get over there ... I think, John, we ought to go tonight. I think it's crazy to be sitting around." Kerry sounded pretty frustrated - can we expect that to turn into concrete action?
CC: The balance sheet is terrible: almost 500 Palestinian deaths until today, and 2 Israeli deaths, now there are more, we have 13 IDF soldiers killed. But the problem I think is that the peace process has been halted. The peace process would have been going on instead of having been cut off by Netanyahu in April. There might have been a chance of at least arriving at some agreement with Hamas. There had been a negotiation before between the US and Hamas.
RT: Hospitals, schools and media offices have all been hit in this offensive. Is there any justification for this if Israel is aiming at Hamas militants?
CC: As a matter of fact there is more justification for Israel this time than in the previous skirmishes with Gaza because the Hamas rockets keep coming, there is no let up; there has been a tremendous amount of rockets launched. There are very, very few casualties, but it has created an atmosphere of fear not only in Southern Israel, but in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel has slightly more justification. Hamas has some legitimate grievances: the Israeli blockade, the prisoners. My own opinion is that there is not going to be peace as long as Netanyahu is the prime minister. He does not want it. With all the efforts of Kerry it was Netanyahu who broke the talks off after Israel refused to release the final tranche of Palestinian prisoners back in April.
RT: Thousands of protesters have marched in cities across the world to voice their support for the Palestinians. Do you feel they are being heard by their leaders?
CC: They are trying to, but it is very difficult because their neighborhoods are crowded and there are launching sites between the neighborhoods. There are some actions that go wrong like the killing of a Palestinian teenager or youths on the beach last Wednesday. But I think the idea does make an effort, they have sent out warnings, but it is a very messy situation and it must stop. Maybe Kerry can do something - he is going to the Middle East immediately, to Cairo - and Ban Ki-Moon is going out there. It has gone way out of hand, and as Kerry said quite accurately "it is a hell of a pinpoint operation."
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.