Romney: Middle East Peace `Almost Unthinkable’ – to Remain `Unsolved’

Photograph by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Mitt Romney visits the Western Wall on July 29, 2012 in Jerusalem's old city.

Updated at 11:51 am EDT with White House comment

Add to the revelations from the secretly recorded video of Mitt Romney’s fundraising remarks about the 47 percent of Americans whom he views as politically unreachable: The prospect of peace in the Middle East, impossible because of Palestinians who don’t want it.

“I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and I say there’s just no way,” Romney is heard saying in the video. “What you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize 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.”

“That’s not leadership — that’s the opposite of leadership,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said today in a White House press briefing.  President Barack Obama is pursuing peace in the Middle East, he said, “and this president will continue to pursue it. ”

The recordings were revealed by Mother Jones magazine,  which obtained the video from a private fundraiser in Florida in May. Romney was speaking at the Boca Raton home of private equity manager Marc Leder, who has donated $225,000 to the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future and $63,330 to the Romney Victory PAC. Mother Jones notes that employees of his firm, Sun Capital Partners,and spouses  have given more than $970,000 to the Romney campaign and its related PACs in this election cycle.

He informed his donors that a former secretary of state — unidentified — had told him there was “a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” Romney recalled that he had replied, “Really?” and didn’t inquire about details.

“I’m torn by two perspectives in this regard,” Romney said. “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.”

“Now why do I say that? Some might say, well, let’s let the Palestinians have the West Bank, and have security, and set up a separate nation for the Palestinians. And then come a couple of thorny questions. And I don’t have a map here to look at the geography, but the border between Israel and the West Bank is obviously right there, right next to Tel Aviv, which is the financial capital, the industrial capital of Israel, the center of Israel. It’s—what the border would be? Maybe seven miles from Tel Aviv to what would be the West Bank…The other side of the West Bank, the other side of what would be this new Palestinian state would either be Syria at one point, or Jordan. 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.”

“So Israel of course would have to say, `That can’t happen. We’ve got to keep the Iranians from bringing weaponry into the West Bank.’ Well, that means that—who? The Israelis are going to patrol the border between Jordan, Syria, and this new Palestinian nation? Well, the Palestinians would say, `Uh, no way! We’re an independent country. You can’t, you know, guard our border with other Arab nations.”’

“And now how about the airport? How about flying into this Palestinian nation? Are we gonna allow military aircraft to come in and weaponry to come in? And if not, who’s going to keep it from coming in? Well, the Israelis. Well, the Palestinians are gonna say, `We’re not an independent nation if Israel is able to come in and tell us what can land in our airport.’ These are problems—these are very hard to solve, all right? And 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”’

“You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem,” Romney told his donors. “We live with that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it. ”

This is Mother Jones’ recording:

 

 

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