Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said that Palestinians are an "invented" people and dismissed the Palestinian bid for statehood during a cable interview.
Gingrich, who is a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, said that the Palestinian Authority, which typically represents the more moderate wing of Palestinian leadership, and formally accepts Israel's right to exist, is "motivated by an enormous desire to destroy Israel," Politico reported.
This edges Gingrich further away from the two-state solution that the two latest presidents have embraced.
According to Politico these are "the latest in a series of comments from Republican leaders that will set a sharply confrontational tone toward the Arab world if a Republican is elected next year."
Gingrich said during the interview:
"I believe that the Jewish people have the right to have a state, and I believe that the commitments that were made at a time," Gingrich said. "Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. 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 1940's, and I think it’s tragic."
In addition to inflaming Arabs, Gingrich's comments are expected to have repercussions among Jews who have supported former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama in calling for a separate Palestinian state.
Steven I. Weiss, who conducted the interview with Gingrich, was also surprised by Gingrich's comments, the Washington Post reported.
“It’s a comment I’ve heard before because I’ve covered the far right in the Jewish community and the pro-Israel community. But I was surprised to hear a mainstream Republican figure say it, and I’ve tried to research to find other mainstream Republican figures who said it. I’ve yet to find that.”