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Gershon Baskin: Why the capture of Hadar Goldin is a game changer

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Gershon Baskin thinks that Israel is forced to stay in Gaza until they find the soldier and bring him home dead or alive.

Wolf Blitzer interviews Gershon Baskin Aired August 1, 2014 – 17:00 ET on CNN

BLITZER: Live here in Jerusalem following the breaking news. Israel reporting that one of its soldiers, 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, has been captured by Palestinian militants following a suicide bomb attack that killed two other Israeli soldier.

Let’s get some more. Joining us is Gershon Baskin, he’s an unofficial Israeli negotiator who helped broker the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, who was held by Hamas for five years in Gaza. He’s also the founder of the Israel/Palestinian Center for Research and Information.

Gershon, thanks very much for joining us. You believe this is a game- changer. The capture of this Israeli soldier. Tell us why.

GERSHON BASKIN, UNOFFICIAL ISRAEL NEGOTIATOR: Israel’s about to wind down this war and figure out its end game with the 72-hour ceasefire. That was the hope that once it completed its mission of finding and destroying the tunnels that went from Gaza into Israel, they would be able to withdraw and deal with the remaining rocket fire as it fell on Israel with the Iron Dome and with military action against the shooters of the rockets.

Right now, Israel is forced to stay in Gaza until they find the soldier and bring him home dead or alive. And that’s going to require them to increase the military operations that they’re already engaged in around the city of Rafah in the south part of the West Bank. This is why I think it’s a game-changer, rather than de-escalation we’re going to see escalation, we’re going to see a lot more violence, civilian casualties and probably more Israeli casualties, as well.

BLITZER: You just heard the Hamas spokesman deny knowing anything about where this missing Israeli soldier is. What do you make of that?

BASKIN: Well, he was very careful in his words saying he didn’t say that they did it or they didn’t do it. He said he had no information which is not a surprise to me because I think that the military wing of Hamas which is functioning basically underground in Gaza doesn’t have a lot of communication with Osama Hamdan (INAUDIBLE) right now, which is usually in Beirut, and with other spokespeople of the Palestinian Hamas leadership which are outside and out of touch with the people that are on ground doing the military battles of Hamas against Israel.

BLITZER: You worked very hard behind the scenes to broker that deal for the release of Gilad Schalit, that Israeli soldier who was held for five years. And Israel released some — more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Schalit. Do you see a similar scenario playing out this time?

BASKIN: No, I don’t think there will be another Gilad Schalit negotiation as it was in the past. I think that the mood has changed in Israel entirely with regard to prisoner exchanges. And I think the situation is quite different because we have some 40,000 or 50,000 Israeli soldiers in Gaza right now and they’re not going to leave without the soldier. So I don’t think there’s a negotiation on the table in the making at all. I think that Israel will refuse to negotiate with Hamas on this deal and they will use the military means they have to try and find the soldier.

BLITZER: Gershon Baskin, thanks very much for joining us. CEO of the Israeli/Palestinian Center for Research and Information.