x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Palestinians have 'no interest in peace', says Romney

A newly released video clip showed US presidential hopeful saying that Palestinians were 'committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel' and that the prospects for a two-state solution to peace in the Middle East were slim.

"The idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world," US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a recent interview.

WASHINGTON // Mitt Romney, the Republican United States presidential candidate, told donors that Palestinians "have no interest" in peace with Israel and suggested that Middle East peace efforts would languish under his administration, should he win the November election.

A newly released video clip showed Mr Romney saying that Palestinians were "committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel" and that the prospects for a two-state solution to peace in the Middle East were slim.

"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," he said.

The remarks were contained in a clip posted yesterday on the website of the magazine Mother Jones, which said the video had been filmed during a $50,000-a-plate (Dh183,650) fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida, on May 17.

The video is from the same event as a clip released on Monday, in which Mr Romney said almost half of Americans "believe that they are victims".

In the latest clip, when asked about the "Palestinian problem", Mr Romney gives a detailed, though somewhat rambling response, saying that "the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace" and "the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish".

The magazine's website quotes him as saying he was opposed to 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 said, according to Mother Jones, although the magazine did not provide video of that comment.

After the first clip was released, Mr Romney did not dispute its contents. During a brief news conference on Monday night, he said his comments were not "elegantly stated" and had been "off the cuff".

The first video also showed him criticising the foreign policy approach of Barack Obama, the US president, as "naive".

"The president's foreign policy, in my opinion, is formed in part by a perception he has that his magnetism and his charm and his persuasiveness is so compelling that he can sit down with people like [Vladimir] Putin and [Hugo] Chavez and [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, and that they'll find that we're such wonderful people that they'll go on with us, and they'll stop doing bad things," said Mr Romney. "And it's an extraordinarily naive perception."