That policy — the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel — has been U.S. policy for several presidencies, and it is the solution Obama has pursued.
Romney also did not distinguish among rival Palestinian factions in his comments, suggesting that all Palestinians are “committed to Israel’s destruction.”
The armed Islamist party Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, has refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and calls for its destruction in its founding charter. But the secular Fatah movement and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the main umbrella organization that excludes Hamas, recognized Israel in the early 1990s and continue to seek a two-state solution.
The Obama administration and many European governments believe international involvement is essential to avoiding a vacuum in the heart of the Middle East, and as a way to get Israel to continue to talk to the Palestinians.
During a visit to Israel in July, Romney offended Palestinians by saying that “culture makes all the difference” in explaining why Israel is vastly more successful economically than the Palestinian territories. He made the comment at a fundraiser with prominent Jewish American supporters, notably billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Palestinian leaders quickly fired back.
“All I can say is that this man needs a lot of education,” said Saeb Erekat, a top aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “He doesn’t know the region, he doesn’t know Israelis, he doesn’t know Palestinians, and to talk about the Palestinians as an inferior culture is really a racist statement.”
In response to another question at the Florida fundraiser, Romney mocked Obama on foreign policy, saying the president naively believes he can use his personality and charm to negotiate with leaders such as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Romney said Obama’s foreign policy is “formed in part by a perception he has that his magnetism and his charm and his persuasiveness is so compelling that he can sit down with people like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and Chavez and Ahmadinejad, and that they’ll find that we’re such wonderful people that they’ll go on with us, and they’ll stop doing bad things. And it’s an extraordinarily naive perception.”