Secret video: Mitt Romney says Palestinians have 'no interest' in peace


Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Fairfax, Va., on Sept. 13.


Nicholas Kamm

Mitt Romney does not believe peace is possible between Palestinians and Israelis, a secretly filmed video shows him telling his donors in private.

In the video, which was obtained by Mother Jones, Romney states that "the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish." 

Romney made his comments at the same fundraiser at which he described 47 percent of the American electorate as "people who believe that they are victims" and who would vote for President Barack Obama "no matter what."

More from GlobalPost: What does Romney really think of Obama voters?

Asked about the "Palestinian problem," Romney first expounds on the multiple obstacles he sees to a two-state solution, then continues: 

"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.' And so 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. [...]

"We kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it."

As stated by Mother Jones' David Corn, that's a far more pessimistic line than Romney has ever taken in public – and, indeed, than the one outlined in the Republican party platform, which envisions Israel and Palestine as "two democratic states."

As the New York Times points out, Romney's tone also contrasts with the way he "has sought to cast himself as a turnaround expert, a fixer who can fashion success from the wreckage of a failing company, Olympics, or economy."

From Israel, GlobalPost correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky said that Romney's comments have received widespread media attention. "Romney's remarks are the top headline in every single Israeli media outlet," she wrote.

"The 7PM news opened with the line 'There is no chance for peace, according to Republican candidate for the American presidency, Mitt Romney,'" said Tarnopolsky. She added, "Ha'aretz and Yedioth Acharonoth open with Romney saying no peace is possible between Palestinians and Israelis, as do almost all the English-language Israeli news websites: Jerusalem Post, 972 Magazine and The Times of Israel."

However, one analyst told Tarnopolsky that it isn't Romney's comments about Israel that were noteworthy.

"What he said about Israel is of absolutely no significance. The important remarks are the things he said about the 47 percent, the dependent," said Alon Pinkas, Israel's former Consul General in New York and a veteran observer of the American political scene.

"The thing is, he didn't say anything that hasn't been said before, even by disillusioned leftists in Israel," Pinkas said.

Still, he questioned Romney's judgement in making the statements at all.

"Why was he saying something like this if there was even a possibility, which seemed more plausible then and less so now, that he could become the American president, and this would be held against him? We all know that the requirements of American foreign policy would be the only thing dictating his actions if he were elected. What I wish someone would ask him is, ok, if not a two-state solution, what then?" said Pinkas.

Abraham Katsman, Counsel to Republicans Abroad-Israel, told GlobalPost there's a slim chance Romney's comments about Israel and Palestinians might even help him among undecided voters. "I doubt it will affect the election one way or the other, although I could see it having some marginal pro-Romney effect on those undecided voters who are looking for a clear-eyed approach to America's middle east policy," he said.

Other clips released Tuesday showed Romney taking a tough line on Iran and criticizing President Obama's foreign policy as "naive" – positions which he has already made clear on the campaign trail.

More from GlobalPost: Romney says his comments were 'not elegantly stated'

Romney had not responded to the latest videos at the time of writing. He was obliged to address his "47 percent" remarks last night, when he told reporters that they were spoken "off the cuff."

According to Mother Jones, the footage was shot covertly at a private fundraising dinner in Florida on May 17, organized by financier Marc Leder and costing $50,000 per head.

Noga Tarnopolsky contributed reporting from Jerusalem.