US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney questioned the feasibility of
the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank in video footage
published on Tuesday by US magazine Mother Jones.
“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.
“I’m torn by two perspectives in this
regard,” he said at a $50,000-per-plate fund-raising dinner in Boca Raton,
Florida, on May 17. “One is the one which I’ve had for some time, which is that
the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the
pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.”
launched into a hypothetical scenario in which Israelis allow the Palestinians
to establish a state in the West Bank and are then forced to contend with
unsolvable security and border issues.
It is “maybe seven miles from Tel
Aviv to what would be the West Bank,” he said, repeating an oft-cited Israeli
security concern that an Arab army in the West Bank could cut Israel in half in
a matter of minutes.
“And now how about the airport?” he
Romney said that the Palestinians would demand full control over
their borders, and suggested they could open access to military
“And of course the Iranians would want to do through the West
Bank exactly what they did through Lebanon, what they did near Gaza. Which is
that the Iranians would want to bring missiles and armament into the West Bank
and potentially threaten Israel.”
Concluding that the Palestinians remain
“committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel,” the US presidential
candidate endorsed a strategy of maintaining the status quo. “You move things
along the best way you can,” he said.
“You hope for some degree of
stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved
Palestinians rejected Romney’s stance, with chief negotiator
Saeb Erekat telling Reuters, “No one stands to gain more from peace with Israel
than Palestinians and no one stands to lose more in the absence of peace than
Only those who want to maintain the Israeli occupation will
claim the Palestinians are not interested in peace.”
Turning to Iran,
Romney cautioned against allowing the Islamic Republic to obtain a nuclear
Romney imagined Iran giving Hezbollah “a little
fissile material,” ordering the proxy to take it to Chicago, and then
blackmailing the US over foreign policy issues. “We really don’t have any option
but to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Tuesday was in damage control from another video clip released on Monday, which
showed him describing US President Barack Obama’s supporters as unwilling to
take responsibility for their lives.
“There are 47 percent [of US voters]
who are with him [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that
they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for
them,” Romney is heard saying on the video.
He also said the 47 percent
do not pay income taxes, and “my job is not to worry about those
The former private equity executive held a Monday night news
conference in California to try to contain the damage, but did not back away
from the remarks about Obama supporters, which have drawn sharp criticism from
Obama’s camp and even some Republican allies.
“It’s not elegantly stated,
let me put it that way,” Romney said. “I’m speaking off the cuff in response to
a question.”Reuters contributed to this report.