Video: Mitt Romney lambastes 2-state solution

US Republican presidential candidate says Palestinians "have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace."

Mitt Romney delivers speech in Jerusalem 370 (R) (photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)
Mitt Romney delivers speech in Jerusalem 370 (R)
(photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)
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.”
Romney then 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 asked.
Romney said that the Palestinians would demand full control over their borders, and suggested they could open access to military armaments.
“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 problem.”
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 Palestinians.
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 weapons capability.
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.
Romney on 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.
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“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 people.”
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.