W. House: 'Scratching heads' from Romney on J'lem

Spokesman accuses GOP candidate of changing consistent US policy of ambiguity on Jerusalem dating back to Clinton, Reagan.

July 31, 2012 04:30
3 minute read.
US presidential candidate Romney meets PA's Fayyad

Romney meets Fayyad 370. (photo credit: reuters)


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White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Tuesday said that US Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's unqualified comments about Jerusalem as solely Israel's capital was causing many to "scratch their heads."

Earnest further said that Romney would need to explain himself to the general public.

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Pressed further in the briefing, Earnest added that , "Well, our view is that that’s a different position than this administration holds. It’s the view of this administration that the capital is something that should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties."

But Earnest did not leave the point only at the idea of the parties themselves determining their borders consensually. Rather, he added that, "I’d remind you that that’s the position that’s been held by previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican. So if Mr. Romney disagrees with that position, he’s also disagreeing with the position that was taken by Presidents like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan."

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority and various radical Palestinian groups Monday condemned Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s remark that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

The radical groups called for boycotting Romney.

A senior Fatah official also criticized PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for meeting Sunday evening with Romney in Jerusalem, noting that the presidential candidate had not included Ramallah in his recent tour.

The official told The Jerusalem Post that Romney’s refusal to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to the area was “unacceptable.” Romney, the Fatah official said, “apparently does not recognize President Abbas as the elected president of the Palestinians.”

Fayyad was quoted on Monday as saying that this was the second time he had met with Romney. He said he had met with him not on a personal basis but in his capacity as prime minister of the PA.

The meeting was almost completely ignored by PAcontrolled media outlets.

Some news websites reported the meeting only after it was mentioned in the Israeli media.

Hamas and other groups expressed outrage over the meeting. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused Romney of insulting the feelings of Palestinians and Muslims by declaring that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel during his visit.

“These are racist and extremist statements that deny the rights of the Palestinian people,” Barhoum said. “His statements distort and forge history and mislead public opinion.”

The Hamas spokesman claimed that Romney’s statement gave Israel a green light to Judaize Jerusalem and build more settlements.

“Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinians and Palestine and we will never give it up,” he stressed.

Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) also denounced Romney’s remarks about Jerusalem and called for a boycott of the candidate.

Daoud Shehab, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, said Palestinians and Arabs were mistaken in pinning hopes on any US administration. He said Romney’s statements would not change the fact that Jerusalem “belongs to the Palestinians and will be restored sooner or later.”

Talal Abu Zarifeh, a DFLP official, said Romney’s position on Jerusalem “contradicts international laws and resolutions which consider the city part of the territories that were occupied in 1967.”

He urged all Arab and Islamic countries to exert pressure on the Americans to stop their “blind bias in favor of Israel.”

Jamil Muzher, a member of the PFLP, said his group believed that there was no real difference between Democrats and Republicans.

“The two parties are competing to show which is more loyal to Israel,” he charged.

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