US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told donors that Palestinians “have no interest” in peace with Israel and suggested that efforts at Middle East peace under his administration would languish, according to comments captured on newly released video of his private remarks to wealthy donors.
Romney said Palestinians are “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel” and that the prospects for a two-state solution to Middle East peace were dim.
“You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it,” Romney said.
The video clip was posted on Tuesday morning on the Web site of Mother Jones magazine. The magazine said it was from a US$50,000-a-plate fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida, on May 17.
The video is from the same event as a clip released on Monday, in which Romney says almost half of Americans “believe that they are victims” and are dependent on the government.
Late on Monday, Romney did not dispute that clip, but said his remarks were “not elegantly stated.”
The Romney campaign has not disputed the authenticity of the video released on Monday.
Romney has not addressed his remarks about the Middle East and had no public appearances scheduled on Tuesday.
His words in the latest video clip put him in sync with hardliners in the Israeli government, including some aides to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior Israeli Cabinet ministers. Netanyahu himself has publicly advocated for a two-state solution. US President Barack Obama’s administration favors a two-state solution.
Palestinian lawmaker and academic Hanan Ashrawi accused Romney of “destroying the chances for peace” and called his remarks “irresponsible and dangerous and both ignorant and prejudiced.”
Netanyahu’s office declined to comment.
Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said: “We are ready for peace that is based on the 1967 borders, a two-state solution and stopping settlement activities. Thus, it is not true that we are not ready for peace, but rather, it is the Israeli side that is not ready for peace.”
“We think that these statements are part of the election campaign, but unfortunately, it will not help the peace process, but rather, will strengthen the voices of extremism and the voices of those who refuse to reach a two-state solution,” Rdeneh said.
In the latest clip, Romney is asked about the “Palestinian problem.” He gives a detailed, though somewhat rambling, response and says: “The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace,” and “the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.”
The magazine’s Web site quotes Romney as saying he was against applying any pressure on Israel to give up disputed territory for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
“The idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world,” Romney said, according to the magazine.