Palestinians angry at leaked comments by Romney
PALESTINIAN OFFICIALS have reacted angrily to the comments by US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that Palestinians “have no interest” in peace with Israel.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, said the comments were part of the US election campaign but would only help to strengthen the voices of extremism.
“We are ready for peace that is based on the 1967 borders, a two-state solution and stopping settlement activities. Thus, it is not true that we are not ready for peace, but rather, it is the Israeli side that is not ready for peace.”
In the clip, posted on the website of the liberal Mother Jones magazine, Mr Romney was asked about the Palestinian question, and gave a detailed response saying Palestinians “have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace”.
He said Palestinians were “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel” and that the prospects for a two-state solution to Middle East peace were dim.
“You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognise that this is going to remain an unsolved problem and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it,” Mr Romney said.
The magazine’s website also quoted Mr Romney as saying he was against applying any pressure on Israel to give up disputed territory for a two-state solution with the Palestinians. “The idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world,” he was quoted as saying.
Mr Romney also criticised President Barack Obama’s foreign policy approach as “naive”. The comments were similar to recent opinions expressed by Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said there was no chance of reaching peace with the current Palestinian leadership.
Nimir Hammad, an aide to Mr Abbas, said Mr Romney’s opinions were not new as he had consistently made one-sided comments aimed at attracting supporters of Israel.
The PLO’s envoy to the US, Maen Areikat, said the comments about the Palestinians showed a “complete ignorance” of the facts as Palestinians had repeatedly recognised Israel’s right to exist.
“The best way the Republican nominee can help in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is by adhering to long-standing US policy regarding an acceptable solution that will lead to the end of military occupation of Palestine, peace and security.”
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said only those who wanted to maintain the Israeli occupation would claim that Palestinians were not interested in peace.