Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called the Palestinians an “invented” people in an interview with The Jewish Channel television station. The channel on Friday posted interview excerpts online.
“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire” before the creation of Israel, Gingrich told the Jewish Channel's Steven I. Weiss.
“I think we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community,” Gingrich said. “And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and I think it’s tragic."
Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority “represent an enormous desire to destroy Israel,” Gingrich said. Asked to comment on the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestinians, Gingrich said, “I think it’s delusional to call it a peace process."
“I see myself as in many ways being pretty close to Bibi Netanyahu in thinking about the dangers of the world," Gingrich said of the Israeli president.
Gingrich criticized the Obama administration's approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. “If I’m even-handed between a civilian democracy that obeys the rule of law and a group of terrorists that are firing missiles every day, that’s not even-handed, that’s favoring the terrorists," he said.
He called the administration’s approach “so out of touch with a reality that it would be like taking your child to the zoo and explaining that a lion was a bunny rabbit."
Obama supporters have struck back at Gingrich and other Republicans who have bashed the administration's Israel policy. Earlier this week, Alan Solow, a longtime Obama supporter and the former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, pointed to statements from Israeli officials saying the relationship between the United States and Israel is as strong as or even stronger than it’s ever been.
Solow accused the Republican presidential candidates of using catchphrases instead of proposing solutions to the problems in the Middle East. “They present no vision of their own,” Solow said.