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.

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"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. joan

    god help us if he gets elected. He has no sense of the world politic at all. He will say anything to get votes... he is totally a p businessman, looking for profit anywya he can. I truly feel he would sell and do anything to make a buck. No scruples at all.

    September 18, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  2. BLKMANinAmerica

    Well I wonder if Isreal will seek a REFUND for that $$ they paid him (Robney) in June? They should.

    September 18, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  3. Boo

    I guess the only way we're going to hear this m o r o n 's true opinions on anything is to spy on his fundraisers....who in their right minds would vote for this guy?

    September 18, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  4. GIUK

    47% of Mitt is correct about 50% of the time about 100% of the subjects he's not sure about. (poll margin of error is +/- 3%)

    September 18, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  5. the many faces of Romney

    Face number 125 and counting

    September 18, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. "Oust the House" in 2012, vote a straight Democratic ticket!

    Lie to the Jews when pandering for their money, and tell the truth when "just the boys" are in attendance.

    "Crony capitalism" indeed.

    September 18, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  7. Lenny Pincus

    The worst presidential candidate since. since, since........

    September 18, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. proudmemberofglobalzero

    This sounds like the 47% that he refers to....he is giving up before he ever starts! Look, to me there is something really wrong with this man. I have lived on both sides of the tracks and he can only see one side of the tracks.

    September 18, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  9. AB

    Why would any Jewish American who is devoted to the State of Israel vote for Obama? Clearly no rational Israeli politician who understand the security issues Israel faces would ever say "OK hand them more land" BEFORE the Palestinians prove that they are seeking peace (the kind of peace where they don't depict Jews as evil in their textbooks). Their elected government in their charter states that they want to kill the Jews in the last battle – yet Obama would like to give them MORE land. It shocks me that the Jews are repeating the same mistakes that have made their lives difficult for generations. A vote for Obama is a vote for someone who throws Israel under the bus. Make no mistake about it.

    September 18, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  10. AK

    Thank you Mr. Romney for your candor. I like the way you think regarding peace for Israel.

    September 18, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    "His role as president, Romney says, would be to "move things along the best way you can."

    Mitt Romney has no vision or plans because Mitt Romney has no interest in the Middle East. Mitt Romney has no interest in Foreign Affairs. Mitt Romney has no interest in the low and middle class citizens. Mitt Romney has no interest in rebuilding the American dream with good paying jobs. Mitt Romney has no interest in investing in America. Mitt Romney has no interest in America, period.

    Mitt Romney is only interested in Mitt Romney and his secret donors. What a disaster for America should this man become President of the United States. What a disaster for the world.

    September 18, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  12. Donkey Party

    Peace will never be achieved as long as Israel keeps electing right-wing radical extremists like Netanyahu. For a people who were so oppressed (Jews), it's amazing how the right-wing Israeli government oppresses the Palestinians, a people without a country. Romney is a complete and utter fool, and should be muzzled and thrown into the dust bin of history, where he'll soon end up anyway.

    September 18, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  13. linda

    Does he also think that the veterans that receive disability benifits are dependent on husband is a Vietnam vet and receives disability pay which he deserves because he fought and was serverely wounded for his service and duty to his country, not like Romney who dodged the draft, we are Seniors who have paid into the Social Security and Medicare for years and that is our money, not the Governments, they took it our of our checks and now we deserve it back, We paid a higher tax rate than Romney did and most the rich who have all their tax credits and loopholes.......other than that we have never been dependent on the govenment for our food, education, or anything else except what was due start another group of percent that is not dependent on Government that is still going to vote OBAMA and you will see Romney has a long hard row to hoe before he will ever get elected President.

    September 18, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. Gene

    Who can say Romney is not right about Palestinians not wanting peace? Israel had tried to have achieve peace, but in return it only received an Intifada and the barrage of rockets.

    September 18, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. Mittens Rmoney

    Don't believe anything I say because I might say something totally different tomorrow.

    September 18, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  16. Al-NY,NY

    Mitt is BooBoo Nutty Yahoos newest yes man. He would turn away and do nothing....EXCEPT keep writing those big checks. I also guess (as is BooBoo) he is not concerned with settlers who vandalize, and then violently resist Israeli police?

    September 18, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. Squigman

    Mitt: After the elections, gather up your lap dog from Wisconsin, go to your lavish estate, put your feet up at the fireplace and contemplate the mindless statements you've made during the campaign. I know many of us have been inspired by your blather. We now know it's possible for illiterate people to be wealthy too. You've given us all hope. If the likes of you can have it all, then it's possible for the common house fly to become massively wealthy.

    September 18, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  18. Winston Stanley

    Why is Romney becoming so sensational!

    September 18, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  19. palusko996769

    There's a difference between allies and puppets. And sometimes I am not sure what the USA is in the eyes of Israel – or what Israel what would like us to be.

    September 18, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  20. bb

    Our embassys are being over run we have a dead ambassodor and where is Oblunder ??? Partying with leno??
    hanging with clooney ??? what a joke Oblameo is, but what can u expect from a sissy ????

    September 18, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  21. doubledees

    Palestine does not want peace with Israel – there will NEVER be peace between them.

    September 18, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  22. Sandy

    Romney is a LIAR and a PHONEY.

    September 18, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. Bill

    He's done. Elections over.

    September 18, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  24. Pete

    Romney talked to his old buddy Netanyahu and asked for political advise and he got none!!Pres.Obama has been working the phones telling the Isreal PM to chill out because this president has bigger fish to fry and Isreal is impatient in getting an agreement on what's best for Isreal,typical self serving Jews,always about them no matter what or whom it involves,they're are supposidly the "chosen ones",so ACT LIKE IT,LEAD BY EXAMPLE BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT!!Netanyahu knows if they go to war as this warmonger wants he wants to make sure America got Isreals back,they better watch out because even bullies don't take to being used too often and Isreals been rubbing America way too long about this same subject..Netanyahu better back off for his countries sake,if not they might well be on their own and Isreal just can't weather that storm can they..

    September 18, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  25. Evenstar13

    I can not help but believe that both of these candidates have their own self interests at heart. They do not care about the little people, just lining their own pockets, some more blatant than others, but nonetheless, they are all greedy hypocrites, a "brood of vipers"!

    September 18, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
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