Jennifer Psaki, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, added that the incident, along with comments Romney made last week in England questioning that country’s preparedness for the Olympics, shows that “he’s been fumbling the foreign policy football from country to country.”
Israel has imposed a blockade on its boundary with Gaza since the Islamic militant group Hamas took over there in 2007. In the West Bank, Israel continues to restrict Palestinian trade and movement.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have said that the removal of such restrictions is necessary to allow Palestinian economic growth.
“He should know that the Palestinians will never reach their economic potential under Israeli occupation, and if he doesn’t know this fact, this man has a lot to learn,” Erekat said. “The harm he has done to American interests throughout the region is enormous.”
Earnest, the White House spokesman, took issue with another statement by Romney, who said in Israel that Jerusalem is its capital. Israel calls Jerusalem its capital, but because Israelis and Palestinians both claim that city, the United States and many other countries keep their embassies in Tel Aviv.
“My understanding is the policy of our nation has been a desire to move our embassy ultimately to the capital,” Romney told CNN, adding, “I would only want to do so and to select the timing in accordance with the government of Israel.”
Earnest said that Obama has a different position: “The view of this administration is the capital should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties. That’s the position held by the previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican. If Mr. Romney disagrees with that, then he also disagrees with the position of presidents like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.”
In better news for Romney, he gained the support Monday of an icon of the movement to topple communism in Europe: former Polish president Lech Walesa. Walesa, who led Poland’s pro-democracy Solidarity movement, met with the candidate and later offered his support in Gdansk.
“I wish you to be successful because this success is needed to the United States, of course, but to Europe and the rest of the world, too. Governor Romney, get your success, be successful,” Walesa said through an interpreter after their joint meeting.
Romney also met Monday with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and other top officials. During that meeting, “Romney expressed gratitude for Poland’s friendship and their people’s history of assisting the U.S. to defend our freedom,” the campaign said, adding that Romney “in particular cited Poland’s sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The group also discussed the European economic crisis, and efforts to build democracy in neighboring countries.
Romney laid a wreath at a memorial in Gdansk, honoring Polish soldiers at the spot where they battled invading German soldiers in the first engagement of World War II in Europe.
Rucker reported from Jerusalem and Gdansk, Poland. Greenberg reported from Jerusalem. David A. Fahrenthold, David Nakamura and Scott Wilson in Washington contributed to this report.