In new tape, Romney casts doubt on peace for Israelis and Palestinians
September 18th, 2012
08:44 AM ET
9 years ago

In new tape, Romney casts doubt on peace for Israelis and Palestinians

(CNN) – A clip of Mitt Romney speaking at a private fund-raiser in May shows the GOP presidential candidate questioning the prospect of ever reaching peace between Israelis and Palestinians, calling a path to a solution in the region "almost unthinkable to accomplish."

The clip, one of a series of videotaped remarks that were posted on the website of the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones, shows Romney speaking in more pessimistic tones about peace in the region than he generally does in public. The clip shows only Romney speaking, and does not include any questions that may have prompted his remarks.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

"I'm torn by two perspectives in this regard," Romney is shown saying. "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."

Romney goes on to describe the obstacles he sees toward developing a so-called "two state solution" that would establish an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. He cites problems of geography, including the proximity to Tel Aviv of a potential border between the two states, as preventing any real progression toward the two states.

"These are problems-these are very hard to solve, all right?" Romney says on the tape. "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.'"

His role as president, Romney says, would be to "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," he concludes. "We kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it. We don't go to war to try and resolve it imminently."

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, called Romney's comments "dangerous" Tuesday.

"He seems to think of himself as a mind reader since he claims to know what Palestinian intentions are," Ashrawi said. "It seems to me it is about time that he stops pandering to the Israeli lobby and funders by selling out Palestinian rights and by destroying the chances of peace in the region.

"Such statements are dangerous and could be irreparable damage to American credability and standings not just in the Middle East but throughout the world," Ashrawi added.

Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, said the tape showed Romney laying out "a detailed description of the many difficult issues that must be solved in order to reach a two-state solution."

"And as he's often said, there is this one obvious truth: peace will not be possible if the extreme elements of the Palestinian side refuse to come to the table for talks or to recognize Israel's right to exist," Saul said. "A possible unity government between Hamas–a terrorist organization–in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank would squelch the prospect for peace. Gov. Romney believes that the path to a two-state solution is to ensure the security of Israel and not to throw up any more barriers to the two sides engaging in direct negotiations."

In public, Romney has declared support for the two-state solution, including in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer in July.

"The decision as to where the borders would be, as we move to a two-state solution, which I support, that's a decision on borders that will be worked out by Israelis and the Palestinians," Romney told Blitzer in the interview, which was taped as the candidate was visiting Jerusalem as part of a three-country foreign swing. "I hope that's a process which is ongoing and ultimately successful. But as to the exact location of borders, that is something I will leave that to the negotiating parties themselves."

At a CNN-sponsored debate in Florida in January, however, Romney used terms similar to those used at the fund-raiser to address the notion of a two-state solution.

"There are some people who say, should we have a two-state solution? And the Israelis would be happy to have a two-state solution. It's the Palestinians who don't want a two-state solution. They want to eliminate the state of Israel," Romney said. The debate was held in the heat of the GOP primaries.

Romney continued: "The best way to have peace in the Middle East is not for us to vacillate and to appease, but is to say, 'We stand with our friend Israel. We are committed to a Jewish state in Israel. We will not have an inch of difference between ourselves and our ally, Israel.'"

Romney has consistently criticized President Barack Obama for his dealings with Israel, saying the president hasn't been a staunch-enough ally to the Jewish state in opposing Iran's nuclear ambitions. Taking a strong pro-Israel approach is a strategy the Romney campaign hopes will galvanize Jewish voters in the United States, as well as pro-Israel evangelicals who Romney struggled to court during the GOP primaries.

The tapes revealed Tuesday are the latest in a cache of material given to Mother Jones showing Romney speaking candidly to supporters at a fund-raiser. Appearing on MSNBC late Monday night, the author of the Mother Jones article, David Corn, said the event took place May 17 in Boca Raton, Florida, at the home of Sun Capital executive Marc Leder.

The person responsible for the footage said he or she wishes to remain anonymous for "professional reasons and to avoid a lawsuit," according to the Huffington Post, which also published the tapes. Furthermore, the video was altered dramatically - but retains the audio from the event - to mask the location and date of the fund-raiser with high-dollar donors.

Late Monday, Romney explained controversial statements from tapes released earlier were "off the cuff" and "not elegantly stated," but defended the main message of his remarks.

In the footage Romney argued nearly half of Americans will vote for President Barack Obama because they rely on government support, made apparent jokes about wishing he had Latino heritage, and talks about a Chinese factory his former firm was considering purchasing.

CNN's Sara Sidner, Jim Acosta, Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Also see:

– Eastwood: If they were 'dumb enough to ask me…'

– Obama camp wastes no time highlighting Romney tapes

– Hatch might 'die before his term' ends, opponent charges

– Biden on Romney tape: 'words speak for themselves'

Filed under: 2012 • Israel • Mitt Romney
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    So – since Israel won't be reasonable he now wants BiBi to set US foreign policy for US??? Don't think so.

    BiBi will use his BFF Mitt to get us to fight Iran for him. AND take that $40 Billion a year handout from us. Mitt is evil.

    Maybe if he breaks his back or something (not wishing it, just stating) when he is in a nursing home he will have some time to reconsider some of the radical things he is trying to push on hard-working people of the U.S.A.

    September 18, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  2. Brian

    In our Judaeo-Christian historical record, the conflict between those groups goes back 6,000 years. Though it might possibly happen, I too believe that it is "almost" unthinkable to accomplish.

    September 18, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  3. That Guy

    Romney says one thing in public and says what he really feels in private. Not honest. Unfit to lead.

    September 18, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    Enough. This ISRAEL is the biggest FARCE in USA election. It is a drama. We should not and ought not care what Israel says and dictates us. Ok. Enough ploy by GOP thugs.

    September 18, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  5. Reality for you

    Whoever wrote this artiv

    September 18, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  6. Vote for Seamus, elect Kolob's next dog catcher

    Sounds like Republican diplomatic skills being mediocre.

    The best position for the US is to be fair to both sides. It is how we retain respect throughout the world.

    We can either be an exclusive agent for Israel or a respected broker by both sides, not both.

    We can have one or both sides interests at heart, not 1.5.

    September 18, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  7. packerfans

    Vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan who can only save America!! Do Not Vote for Obama his second terms will be worse fell dowm America!!! Obama want forward that mean getting debts more go up and dont know how buiness ecomony by goverment !!! It is total Wrongly!!! Vote Mitt and Paul!!

    September 18, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  8. CJ

    I do not know how Romney can say the Palestians do not want peace. It is an uneducated statement or a lie just to put himself in good graces of Jewish-Americans. Fatah has take a non-violent approach since the death of Arafat and has consistantly worked to improve relations and have attempted negotiations countless times with nothing to show for it. Do not confuse Fatah (which controls the West Bank) with Hamas who conrols Gaza. Hamas is the group sending rockets into Israel.

    September 18, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  9. bb

    Hes right, Oblunder has made things worse every where, look around it aint getting better, look what oblunder has stopoped to, a new low even for this creep. hidden tapes ?? im sure when said and done the person who did this is a real piece of crap, but what do expect from a Oblameo flunkie ???

    September 18, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  10. ShawnDH

    Mitt Romney = unfit for the White House. Period, end of story.

    September 18, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  11. beevee

    'Not elegantly stated', is it supposed to be an apology from a guy who is always pandering to the rich? As president that is what he will exactly do – he will not care for the poor and middle class and will keep his word to the rich to make them even richer at the expense of the middle class and poor in this country. Hope he never ever become president of this country.

    September 18, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |

    Showing your TRUE colors there Mitty.

    September 18, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  13. chilly g

    i know mitt was this kind of person, mitt does not understand the average american are what problems they face and
    he do not care about thems,i think the video will be the nail in the cofin.

    September 18, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  14. Phyllis G Williams

    I heard it said from childhood that Abraham's mistake would not be solved until Armageddon (Joel 3: 2)
    and we can see the problems in the Mid-East at this time with them that do not realize that there is only ONE GOD –
    (Ephesians 4: 4-6 ; 1st John 5: 20).

    September 18, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  15. Rico53

    He`s right , there will never be peace between Israel and Palestine ,no flesh man has the ability or the authority to bring peace to the middle east., however there is one coming who will bring an offer to Palestine that they will not refuse plus he is going to know how to fix the global financial problems as well.Romney knows this because the Mormon church knows very very well the prophecies of the end times ,that`s why all Mormons are taught and required to store up 7 years of food and goods to survive the 7 years of tribulation as described in Revelation.

    September 18, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  16. Joe M

    White business man in tx for 30 years. SIT ON IT , MITT. What i would like to know is how many of mitts STAPLES employees dont pay any TAXES because they simply dont get payed enough to pay taxes on. To staples employees mitt doesnt like you he hates to pay you, and wants to FIRE YOU BUT

    September 18, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  17. Reality for you

    There will never be peace for Israel because there will always be Muslim extremists who want to wipe them off the map .

    September 18, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  18. Namejkane sfl a vote for the gop will cut your moms medicare and soc sec .can you afford to pay for them???

    The jokes on romney the tax cheat in Nov.

    September 18, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  19. barbara Cornelius

    This person is twenty first century train wreck. His inability to keep his foot out of his mouth is amazing. Who needs a fickle person like this in the white house.

    September 18, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  20. lgo

    amazing, he truly is only able to see things from one perspective.. romney is so wrapped up in being a "friend" to Israel that he's incapable of seeing that both sides are guilty of violence and attacks. not to mention the fact the the Palestinians have been ruthlessly oppressed and living in a humanitarian crisis for decades..

    September 18, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  21. stew

    I wonder is this the way Hitler saw it, eliminate the disabled, gypses, jews, slav's because they weren't with him.
    Well I just see you going back into your cave man Mitt, and your thoughts of becoming President are just your art etch-a – sketched.

    September 18, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  22. Fox Geek

    Mitt is exactly right, there is no solution in the middle east (jew and arab), it will always be a struggle just to have some kind of normalcy. The ONLY way is for both to be converted to a new religion. Why is it that when good thing happen for the administration that Obama made the decision and when bad things happen, Obama did not know i.e. murder in was murder, it was planned and the administration knew it was coming but did nothing, they wanted this to happen.

    September 18, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  23. daniel

    This media bias is so far out of hand, because Romney dont cater to the PA he is wrong? If any Americans read this and agree you may want to reach out to a jewish friend or go check out a blog from the reigon. How can Israel have peace when they are in the middle of people who live to wipe them out. Think about it Israel wants peace, they aare the country that gets hits will missiles just about daily. How would your out look be if your chilrden has 30 seconds to make it to a bomb shelter or risk getting killed daily or a couple times a day. Obama is metting with David Letterman instead of sitting down with the PM of Israel. Which I guess that how you keep the media in your pocket.

    September 18, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  24. Col B

    At last, someone speaking the truth without sugar coating it. That part of the world has been at war for centuries and nothing will change that as long as religion is the main crux of the disagreements.

    September 18, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    A leader is driven by his heart, not driven by popular opinion. People know where Pres. Obama's heart is at. No one knows where Romney's heart and drive lies. The only prevailing wind behind Romney is personal ambition to gain as much wealth as possible, as quickly as possible. His management skills are limited to a portfolio, and are non-existent when it comes to real people and the real world.

    Mitt Romney is a salesman, not a stateman.

    September 18, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
1 2 3 4 5