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. Independent jim

    why do we continue to allow Israel to dictate policy for the US... Israel is a very small ally and gets welfare from the USA in the billions of dollars ..they should be given an ultimatem negotiaste in earnest for a two state solution or lose foreign aid the same would also apply to palestine.. for another country that relies on America for its existence ..then for that country to tell us what to do is insane country can tell America what to do .. and they should be shbown the door if they try

    September 18, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  2. Jim in Georgia

    I am not a fan of "The Mitten" but I do wonder how we, as a nation, can go forward with so few people paying for the government and so few supporting a war effort that has gone on forever...

    September 18, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. jake1969

    Romney's such a tool. On foreign and domestic policy he's been so out there. The comments about the 47%, which all the Tea Baggers claim is the gospel, is ridiculous too. First of all, the poor actually bear a higher burden of non-income payroll taxes such as SS and medicare because they are capped on higher incomes...and they've always beared the larger burden of sales and many other taxes. No one pays "no taxes." Now, to the 47% that pay no FEDERAL INCOME TAX - the largest piece of the budget funded by the income tax is the MILITARY!!!! So, Tea Baggers, are you suggesting that your tax dollars going to national defense is somehow welfare??? Unemployment insurance makes up a small fraction of the federal budget. This whole "dems are lazy and dependent on government" is just a complete MYTH. I vote dem because I like a good infrastructure, investment in science and technology, education, a clean environment and a non-war mongering mentality on the international scene. I work my tail off and fall in the upper middle class, so I put my money where my mouth is as the segment of our society that pays the HIGHEST fed income tax rate (again, the poor don't pay it and the super rich pay very low rates due to investment income)...despite the fact I'm in the group bearing the burden, I'm not crying all the time about the mean government like Tea Baggers do. Talk about victim mentality!

    September 18, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  4. JC

    I do not understand why every one so surprise with Romney statement, are we afraid to hear the truth? Bill Clinton tried
    for two weeks meeting with Ehud Barack and Arafat to negotiate peach were Mr.Ehud Barack gave up 95% to Arafat demands and Arafat refused to make peace. Arafat did not missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity to make peace. What has change since then? nothing. The Palestinians still dreaming of the destruction of Israel.

    September 18, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  5. Rosslaw

    The gift that keeps on giving.

    September 18, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  6. Norm

    He seems to be so full of solutions to the problems of the world and our country.
    How can we not for for this guy.

    September 18, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    "They want to eliminate the state of Israel".
    Spoken like someone who would like to see full blown war erupt in that region.
    Spoken like the tactless layman that he is, totally unsuitable for the office that he aspires to cross off of his Bucket List.
    Incendiary speech of this nature is totally unbefitting the president of ANY country.
    The only thing Mitt has proven himself good and consistent at is at being an insensitive, unthinking foot-in-mouth tool.
    Obama 2012. Seriously Americans.

    September 18, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  8. Mike Texoma

    I regret hearing this kind of thing from someone who aspires to world leadership. This kind of pessimism is as toxic to the peace process as is the intransigence of the parties.

    September 18, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  9. Goodbye GOP and Good Riddance

    Turn out the lights.
    The party's over.

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    September 18, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  10. David Gonzales

    ...Soooo, what's the big deal about Romney's comments? Do Palestinians want peace? NO. Do 47% of the population not pay taxes? TRUE, Would it be better if he was Latino? YES. I don't see any contradiction to what he's said in public and what he's saying here. He's not getting the vote from those who expect the government to give them "free" stuff, it's the loudest secret in the country. CNN is showing how biased it can be, by trying to portray Romney as not being consistent, but the truth is, the guy is pretty consistent. He wants to address the issues with the middle class, because that's where the problem lies, we're losing middle class families by the tens of thousands in this country, and the US cannot continue in this direction or there's going to be only poor and very rich, and that's how socialists like it, no middle ground. I'm baffled by the fact that not many Americans see it, maybe you guys need to travel a bit more and see what happens when populism and socialism take over a government.

    September 18, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. joe d

    Open AIPAC's (israel's) pocket....Insert Mittens (willard) Romney...

    AIPAC,neocons and israel have destroyed the U.S.

    September 18, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  12. gee

    Israel is the one who just doesn't want to even talk about any kind of settlement. Just grab more land and the 8ell with everyone else.

    September 18, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  13. Sue

    Question? Is Romney including the Veterans of America VICTIMS? Many are receiving disability pay for the service and duty to this country, and their BENIFITS that they receive they DON'T pay TAXES on......and many of these VETS can not are you saying that these BRAVE men and women are vicims, expecting Government to take care of them? Isn't that the promise we have made to them that we will take care of them? You said " So I don't care about this 47%" so are you saying you don't care about the VETERANS OF AMERICA? You want these great men and women when it comes to fighting your wars but now you throw them under the BUS........Instead of writing more speeches to get elected start writing you concession speech for Novermber 7th 2012 to OMAMA

    September 18, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  14. r

    I have no doubt the President stands firmly with Israel. Differences exist yes! But what family does not have differences. Yet no nation's people want to live in a state of conflict and turmoil, while working on achieving their goals. Peace is the one thing the Palestinians and Israelis want. We need more Presidential and Vic Presidential candidates that have worn a uniform as we do in Congress. We might have more understanding of what it is to be a patriot and know how anyone who has been in a war and conflict wants more than anything "peace." That wiorking together for the common good of America has been lost in Washington –

    September 18, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  15. Enough is Enough

    Step one Mitt is to demand that Israel stop building and expanding illegal settlements on stolen land. Step 2 stop kissing Israel's ass.

    September 18, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  16. Scott

    These secret tapes are undermining most of what Romney has tried to do in public. Most people have thought Romney is "two-faced", these tapes prove it. I don't see how anyone cannot say that his political career is over.

    September 18, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. Terry

    Isn't he the one who said publically Obama threw Israel under the bus??? This guy is not presidential material, never was and never will be. He doesn't have the insight the guts or the compassion for the job,

    September 18, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  18. myviewis

    Democrats don't care for Israel anyways so whatever Romney says with regards to peace between Israel and Palestian is unimportant to Democrats. Democrats had taken Jerusalem off the Democratic platform, they voted 3 times to reinstate it but it doesn't eliminate the fact that Democrats had removed Jerusalem.

    September 18, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  19. Wake up People!

    Oh Willard, sit down and shut the hell up! YOU ARE NOT THE POTUS AND YOU NEVER WILL BE!

    Now I see why McCain picked Palin. While she was a lunatic, at least she had curb appeal...... Willard, NOT!

    OBAMA 2012!

    September 18, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    There is a name for the type of bubble that Mitt Romney lives. It's called an exclusion zone.

    September 18, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  21. Harry From Pa

    Ouch, Romney you are your own worst enemy.

    September 18, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. edog355

    Gotta say I'm supporting Obama for his stance with Israel. It's probably my biggest issue of the election.

    September 18, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. Rene

    So now we know what he really think...he is afraid or not williing to share his views with the nation but only with a selected group of the 1%s...this tells you what the mindset of the 1%s are. Half of the nation is looking for a handout..I voted for Pres Obama, will do it again...served 20 yrs in the military, has worked all my adult life, never looked for a handout...but that is the republican party...home of the birthers, the extreme racist right can I give them my vote?

    September 18, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. truthhurts

    What does Romney say about the Palestinian refugees who escaped the violence brought on by the Jews when they stole Palestinian land and declared a state in 1948? Do they not have a right to return home? Is Israel not breaking laws and morals by barring them from every returning home?

    September 18, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. TonyInNYC

    So, if peace will never be possible, Mr. Romeny, what is your solution?

    September 18, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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