canada africa partner reservation “This Week” Transcript 12/5/24: Senator Chris Coons and Representative Michael McCaul

“This Week” Transcript 12/5/24: Senator Chris Coons and Representative Michael McCaul


Below is a hasty transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” airing Sunday, May 12, 2024 on ABC News. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated, and may contain minor transcription errors. For transcripts of past shows, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.

MARTHA RADDATZ, CO-ANCHOR OF ABC “THIS WEEK”: So what does it mean for what happens next in this conflict? I am now joined by Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

Good to see you this morning, Senator.

These huge bombs that the president is now pausing have already been used by the Israelis in Gaza and have caused enormous destruction. Civilian casualties. And yet the State Department report says there is not enough information to conclude that they violated any international law.

Are you satisfied with that conclusion?

SEN. CHRIS COONS, (D) DELAWARE & (D) COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, Martha, thanks for the opportunity to be with you again.

Let us be clear about what that report also concludes, which is because of the way Hamas has conducted itself in this horrific conflict that began with their tragic barbaric attack on 1,200 civilians, also killing 45 Americans on October 7.

Because Hamas has embedded its fighters, its war piles and its supplies under civilian targets, under hospitals, mosques and schools, the State Department report says it is difficult to conclude whether the unacceptably high number of civilian casualties is the result of Hamas and its strategies and tactics. , or because of Israel and the way they conducted this conflict.

I think it’s worth repeating every time we talk about this that Hamas started this conflict and that Hamas, and their behavior, has largely been the driving force behind the humanitarian crisis that continues in Gaza.

RADDATZ: There is no doubt that Hamas started this on October 7. But again, what you’ve seen is tremendous destruction and civilian casualties. Some estimates say 14,000 children died.

Are you satisfied with the report’s conclusions? I have just read the conclusions to you.

COONS: Well, what’s more important than the report’s conclusions, Martha, is what we do. What the United States is doing with our close and trusted ally Israel.

President Biden has privately urged and warned Prime Minister Netanyahu and his far-right government for months not to invade Rafah on a large scale without first admitting civilians, the million refugees who have moved to Rafah at the direction of the IDF. and are now trapped against the hard border with Egypt, because Egypt will not let any of them in.

What matters, Martha, is whether the next phase of this conflict against Hamas, which Israel has every right to do, will allow civilians to avoid a future attack on Rafah. And that’s what President Biden has now said both publicly and privately to our trusted ally Israel: you can continue this war against Hamas, but if you’re going to use our ammunition and continue to get our support, you have to do it in a way that the number of civilian casualties is kept to a minimum.

RADDATZ: Senator – Senator Coons, I know – I –

COONS: And that doesn’t mean you’ve surrounded Rafah, paused and allowed civilians to move on.

RADDATZ: Senator – Senator –

COONS: One thing I also know is how hard President Biden is working on a hostage agreement and a ceasefire. That’s the other way forward, Martha.

RADDATZ: That was interrupted, of course.

Senator, I want to go back to the report.

Your Democratic Senate colleague Chris Van Hollen said, “The administration dodged all the tough questions about making the actual decision. I think they are trying to make it clear that they recognize how bad the situation is, but they do not want to take any action to hold the Netanyahu government responsible for what is happening.”

Your answer?

COONS: Well, I don’t agree with that. I think President Biden has taken strong action. There is so much criticism about his recent public statement. And I will remind you that other American presidents have done the same when a close, trusted partner does not listen to personal admonitions. It was President Reagan who repeatedly interrupted the supply of F-16s when then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin launched an attack on a Syrian nuclear complex, invaded southern Lebanon and waged the war in southern Lebanon in a way that raised real concerns about the consequences for the civilian population. . So when my colleague and friend, Senator Van Hollen, says that there have been no consequences and no strong action from President Biden, I am missing the point, that President Biden has urged the far-right government again and again, Prime Minister Netanyahu must take appropriate take action –

RADDATZ: So – so, Senator –

COONS: And have now publicly said what the consequences will be.

RADDATZ: So, Senator, what’s the line of transition from inconsistent to illegal?

COONS: I think in the coming days we’ll be looking closely at the path forward that Prime Minister Netanyahu chooses. Whether he will use American-supplied ammunition to bomb, invade and attack Rafah and the million civilians there to reach the Hamas fighters buried in tunnels deep in eastern Rafah, or whether he will continue to allow those citizens to be relocated in accordance with a plan developed jointly with the United States, a plan that is not yet fully acceptable to us, or, my preferred outcome, or the months of work to achieve a ​to broker a deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel that would allow for a ceasefire, the release of hostages and a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and a regional security architecture that will provide Israel with long-term security against Iran offer.

RADDATZ: And what –

COONS: Martha, let me remind you and your viewers that it was only three weeks ago that President Biden skillfully came to Israel’s defense, working with the British, the French, the Saudis and the Jordanians, when Iran fired 300 missiles and launched drones at Israel. It is clear that we are prepared to defend Israel vigorously, but he urges the President – excuse me, Prime Minister Netanyahu – to choose the path of peace that is right in front of him, which requires reaching a deal with regional actors is required.

RADDATZ: Senator, if – if – if Netanyahu, Prime Minister Netanyahu, is actually going to launch a full-scale attack on Rafah, what do you think the president should do? We have heard his warnings.

COONS: I think we’ll take action. And I think it’s up to the president exactly how he will act.

But let me remind you that there is a precedent for this. President Reagan was – was in a position with (INAUDIBLE).

RADDATZ: Again, you – you – you remind us of that. But what – what do you mean he will act? Will he stop the guns? Will he stop more guns?


RADDATZ: How many weapons? All weapons?

COONS: It’s clear to me (ph) that we will not abandon Israel. He will not stop supplying defense systems to Israel.

Look, Hezbollah continues to attack Israel in the north. Last night, more rockets and grenades entered northern Israel. I don’t believe at all that we will leave Israel defenseless.

RADDATZ: So you’re saying he’s going to stop assault weapons? Not defenseless, but you are talking about specifically defensive weapons. So you’re saying offensive weapons should be stopped?

COONS: Look, I think all the munitions, like the 2,000 bombs that were previously used in Gaza, which are supplied only by the United States and which can cause enormous civilian casualties, can very well be stopped.

It is tragic that we are at this point. And Martha, I want to close by saying that I hope Prime Minister Netanyahu reflects on his legacy. Right now, his legacy is the colossal, strategic and defensive failure of October 7, and his legacy could be a real rift, a rupture in the long, strong, bipartisan, strategic relationship between the United States and Israel. I think that would be tragic. His legacy could instead be achieving regional security and peace for Israel. But that will require him to do something he hasn’t done before, namely be willing to negotiate, release the hostages, reach out to the Saudis and move forward with a humanitarian ceasefire before he gets the job done. against Hamas and finds a way. forward for Palestinian self-government.

I recognize that this is difficult for the Prime Minister because he has members of his Cabinet who flatly (ph) oppose such actions.

RADDATZ: Senator, I’m going to have to stop you there.

COONS: (INAUDIBLE) that could leave a legacy of peace.

RADATZ: Okay, thank you very much for joining us this morning, Senator.