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Romney Told Donors ‘No Way’ on Israeli-Palestinian Peace

October 3, 2012

Romney Told Donors Palestinians Won’t Embrace Peace With IsraelMitt Romney visits the Western Wall on July 29, 2012 in Jerusalem’s old city. Photographer: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told campaign donors that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is going to “remain an unsolved problem” and that pressuring Israel to make concessions to get the Palestinians to act “is the worst idea in the world.”

The Palestinians are “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel” and are uninterested in peace, Romney said in a video from a private fundraiser in May posted yesterday by Mother Jones magazine.

In the video, Romney discounted the prospects for Middle East peace between Israel and the Palestinians, a goal that has been sought for decades by presidents from both parties.

“You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem,” Romney said. “And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Romney was offering the “wrong approach,” and the top Palestinian diplomat in Washington said Romney shows “complete ignorance of facts and realities.”

Romney said that a former U.S. secretary of state, whom he didn’t name, had told him that there was a chance for a “settlement” after the Palestinians hold elections. “I said, ‘Really?’ And, you know, his answer was, ‘Yes, I think there’s some prospect.’ And I didn’t delve into it,” Romney said.

‘No Way’

Romney said the problems of borders, Israeli security and other elements in the peace process are “very hard to solve.”

“I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way,” Romney said in the video, which Mother Jones said was recorded May 17, at a $50,000 per-plate fundraiser at the home of private-equity executive Marc Leder in Boca Raton, Florida.

Romney did not explain or elaborate on his foreign policy comments during an interview yesterday on Fox News.

The former Massachusetts governor “laid out a detailed description of the many difficult issues that must be solved in order to reach a two-state solution,” Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman said in an e-mail. “Governor Romney believes that the path to a two-state solution is to ensure the security of Israel and not to throw up any more barriers to the two sides engaging in direct negotiations.”

American ‘Victims’

Romney’s comments will limit his ability to fault President Barack Obama’s handing of the Israeli-Palestinian tensions, said Richard Armitage, former U.S. deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush.

“It’s difficult to criticize the president and his Middle East policy on the one hand, and then suggest, on the other hand, that the best you can do is kick the ball down the street,” Armitage said in a telephone interview yesterday.

On Sept. 17, the magazine posted a video of Romney saying “there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.” He referred to them as government dependents who feel they’re entitled to health care, food, housing and other programs. The video was obtained by Mother Jones magazine from a person it didn’t identify.

Romney told reporters during an evening news conference on Sept. 17 that his comments calling many Americans “victims” dependent on government weren’t “elegantly stated.” He stopped short of disavowing remarks that emerged as a fresh distraction to his campaign.

‘Big Chunk’

Obama, during an interview scheduled for broadcast last night on CBS’s “Late Show With David Letterman,” disputed Romney’s economic assertions.

There are “not a lot of people out there who think they are victims,” the president said in New York. Americans don’t want a president who is “writing off a big chunk of the country,” he said.

Obama, who didn’t address foreign policy, has pressed for a two-state solution in the Middle East, a course embraced by presidents from both parties.

“It is simply the wrong approach to say we can’t do anything about it so we’ll just kick it down the field; that’s not leadership,” Carney said. Peace is in the best interests of Israelis and Palestinians, and “this president will continue to pursue it,” he said.


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