(CNN) - A Palestinian leader blasted Mitt Romney's statements at a high-dollar fund-raiser in Jerusalem as "racist" Monday after Romney made a comparison between the per capita GDPs of Israel and Palestinian-controlled areas.
Romney, speaking to a group that included Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, said higher personal wealth among citizens in Israel was an indication that the country was accomplishing something its neighbors were not.
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"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," Romney said.
(Figures on the United Nations' website actually indicate a much greater disparity between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel had a per capita GDP of $27,060 in 2009, while the 2009 per capita GDP of the occupied Palestinian territory was listed as $1,367.)
Citing the book "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," Romney detailed his interpretation of author David Landes' thesis.
"He says if you can learn anything from the economic history of the world, it's this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney said.
While Romney has cited Landes' book in speeches before, and included a passage about it in his own book "No Apology," his remark Monday in Israel drew a sharp reaction from Sa'eb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"This man, before he came here, he should have got some education about Israelis, Palestinians, and the region," Erekat said. "The Romney statements on Jerusalem and the racist statements about the Israeli culture being superior to the Palestinian culture reflect someone who needs to be educated, who needs knowledge. His statements are serving those extremists in the region now, and will serve extremists unfortunately."
Erekat said Romney ignored the reality that Israeli occupation was the main reason Palestinian areas were suffering economically.
"He does not know the situation on the ground, he does not know the settlement activities, he does not know that the Palestinian economy suffers most because of the Israeli occupation, because of the road blocks and closure and so on," Erekat said.
The West Bank and the Gaza Strip came under Israel's control after the six-day war in 1967. Israel continues to control access to both regions.
The World Bank, in a 2009 report, argued the Israeli restrictions to Gaza and the West Bank were hindering economic growth in the region.
"The largest impediment to private sector investment in the West Bank and Gaza remains the restrictions on movement and access to resources and markets imposed by the Government of Israel," a report from the World Bank stated.
Erekat said Romney's remarks were based in a "lack of knowledge" about the economic realities in the region.
"This man has no knowledge and yet he comes and makes racist statements which will play in the hands of extremists in the region," Erekat said.
CNN's Kareem Khadder contributed to this report.
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Scott: No president in recent history visited Israel during his first term – not one. Obama has been there twice before he was elected. I also doubt that Obama "hates Israel...backing the PLO." Are you now accusing our sitting president of being a supporter of terrorism? The Middle east is a powder keg waiting for a catalyst – Romney appears to be becoming that catalyst to create the explosion, either in Israel, the Territories or Iran/Iraq, Syria. He is too dangerous to lead this nation.
i guest mitten peace program with the palestinians and the jewish state will go smoothly, nimcompoop.
You are a very sad case and unfortunately there are many like you in the USA and that makes the future of your country a very dangerous one.
Shann, I guess in your world two wrongs DOES make a RIGHT! Spin it baby spin it! Romney should not be holding fundraising activities overseas (speaking's one thing, but fundraising in a foreign land for a national election? Are you kidding me?) And what the heck is Sheldon Adelson & Woody Johnson doing there? And you wonder why he is lacking by 15 points in foreign policy? He just gave you a taste. Look out Poland, Romney's coming to save the day! What a mess if you put this man in office!
Why is this nitwit running around the world making speeches like he has already been elected?? If he keeps this up the entire world is going to be against us.
Willard, if you want to do something, come clean about Bain, release your taxes and allow people to make their decision about you based on facts, not lies and smoke and mirrors.
One last thing Willard, please sit down and shut up. No one cares about your opinion. We have one President at a time and you are not him, nor will you ever be.
Really Mitt!!! OMG! And people really want this guy to be President. He can not talk about his Bain experience, he can not talk about his goverance experience in MA, but he upset, because we asking to many questions about background. Some people is just voting for Mitt, because they hate President Obama, but deep down inside they feel same way about Mitt.
george of the jungle
once again mitt the twitt shows off his diplomatic skills. Can the man get through one day without offending someone? Diplomacy requires that you try and make nicey niceywith everyone so as to leave the doors open for some real work to get done. The president is now left with the job of cleaning up after another republican screw up. Forward.
No Mitt is doing something our coward of a President does not do, standing up for Isreal, and not apologizing to everyone like our current President does, Obama is an wimp. America does not apologize to foreign nations.
Silly me and I thought GOPs were more concern with Isreal as the Holy Land! Go figure!! WITH RICH REPUBLICANS,IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT $$$$$$. So now they are trying to make Isreal a business land rather than the Holy Land.How insulting!
Romney lacks diplomatic wisdom to lead a nation, he doesn't stand a chance against President Obama.
Assumptions based on statistics, or, as Romney believes, proof. This is what Romney is all about. No heart, no soul, no gut feeling. If you are poor, it's because that's the way you are. If you're rich, like Romney and his ilk, it's because you are a better breed. That's why he doesn't care about the "very poor": he's already delegated them, as a class, as a write off expense. He thinks there is no way the "very poor" will ever improve their lot. Should we give up trying to help?
@Scott – fortunately, your myopic view is not shared by all in the US. The PLO is no more a terrorist organization than the Mossad. They believe they are at war with Israel, having had their homeland stolen out from under them (back in 1948) with full support of the Brits and US govt. Were it not for US support of Israel (who has no more right to exist than does Palestine), things would have been resolved long ago. Most of those originally involved are long gone (Arafat, Shamir, etc.) and those left have no idea why they are fighting, but for some ideology. If Israel actually kept their side of the Helsinki (and other) accords and quit building settlements on "arab" land, then all would be at peace.
It's time to quit pandering to Isreal and let them get on with it on their own.
jWhat else do you need America to throw this phony out on his head? Romney is not the one to lead . . . Period.
Romney lack of leadership
He's really over seas touting a message of cultural superiority??? I always knew Romney shouldn't have been on the GOP ticket, but I did not think he would be traveling the world telling people that their cultures are inferior based on per capita GDP. What is wrong with this man?!?
We can thank the right-leaning SCOTUS than Willard is able to fund raise in foreign countries. Where's he off to next, China? Mittens needs to shut his mouth and do his campaigning at home. He's not the President (nor will he ever be), so he should leave foreign policy to those that have some idea of what they doing. He's single-handedly trashed our relationship with the UK, and is about to trigger another uprising in the Middle-East.
Lovely. This will obviously make him uniquely qualified to mediate and broker peace in the region. Atta girl, Mittens!
Mitt has no foreign policy bonafides.
Romney is an embarrassment to the American people. This guy is a clueless on foreign policy setting countries against each other (Israel, Palestine, Iran) and he wants to be President of the United States? Gee. That's scaring
On his visit to Poland Mitt may warm up the crowd with a couple of Polish jokes he learned in prep school...
Question: How many Polacks does it take to make a Republican Presidential candidate look like a moron? Answer: None. Mitt will manage to do that in Poland all by himself... like he did in England and Israel.
Somehow he'll also find a way to insult Catholics and labor unions in the same sentence.
Looks like we are getting for a second foreign policy disaster coming in the near future. The first was GWB, that cost thsi country $2+ trillion, 6,000 dead and 35,000 wounded. Get ready for another world shellacking on our reputation.
To Scott. The one in question here is not about Palestine vs Israel. It's more about his knowledge in international affair. Remember the world is not about Israel and Palestine ONLY.
Knowing his remarks from his last two visits (London & Israel), we can see how his comment is always baseless and offensive. Do you think he's still a good USA #1 candidate? Probably not unfortunately.
"He does not know the situation on the ground, he does not the settlement activities, he does not know that the Palestinian economy suffers most because of the Israeli occupation, because of the road blocks and closure and so on," Erekat said. - Yeah, reason there are roadblocks is because you are terrorists who launch missiles into the area on a daily basis. Why not stop it? The West Bank and the Gaza Strip came under Israel's control because you got your teeth kicked in in 1967. If you start a war thats what you get
I am not suprised with this accusation! Robme and his repuglican cronies are reflecting a discriminatory agenda against, the poor, senior citizens, disenfranchised, middle class and homeless! Just look at Paul Ryans budget plan, and how they will not pass a job program, bill or Act that helps the unemployed, poor, or senior citizens while President Obama is our current President! Their whole agenda for 4 years is to make President Obama a "one term" president!
Per capita GDP is not a good metric. Saudi Arabia is higher than Israel and maybe even the US.
IF YOU SIGNED GROVER'S PLEDGE, YOU ARE A TRAITOR TO THE U.S.
Mitt has no foreign policy bonafides.
More then Obama does, at least Isreal likes Romney .