RAMALLAH - Palestinian leaders said on Saturday US Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich had invited more conflict in the Middle East by calling the Palestinians an "invented" people who want to destroy Israel.
Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, described his comments in an interview as "despicable". Hanan Ashrawi, another top official, said Gingrich's "very racist comments" showed he was "incapable of holding public office".
"This is the lowest point of thinking anyone can reach," Erekat, a close advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters. Such comments served only to "increase the cycle of violence," he added.
"What is the cause of violence, war in this region? Denial, denying people their religion, their existence, and now he is denying our existence," said Erekat, for years a leading figure in peace talks aimed at the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.