Day two of leaked video from a May, 2012 Romney fundraiser in Boca Raton is focused on foreign policy, and specifically Israel/Palestine. In the new tape Romney rejects the two-state solution using a familiar Israeli security argument (he didn’t quite go as far as using “Auschwitz borders”) and blamed the Palestinians for “not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel.”
Here are the full remarks from Mother Jones:
I’m torn by two perspectives in this regard. 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. Now why do I say that? Some might say, well, let’s let the Palestinians have the West Bank, and have security, and set up a separate nation for the Palestinians. And then come a couple of thorny questions. And I don’t have a map here to look at the geography, but the border between Israel and the West Bank is obviously right there, right next to Tel Aviv, which is the financial capital, the industrial capital of Israel, the center of Israel. It’s—what the border would be? Maybe seven miles from Tel Aviv to what would be the West Bank…The other side of the West Bank, the other side of what would be this new Palestinian state would either be Syria at one point, or Jordan. And of course the Iranians would want to do through the West Bank exactly what they did through Lebanon, what they did near Gaza. Which is that the Iranians would want to bring missiles and armament into the West Bank and potentially threaten Israel. So Israel of course would have to say, “That can’t happen. We’ve got to keep the Iranians from bringing weaponry into the West Bank.” Well, that means that—who? The Israelis are going to patrol the border between Jordan, Syria, and this new Palestinian nation? Well, the Palestinians would say, “Uh, no way! We’re an independent country. You can’t, you know, guard our border with other Arab nations.” And now how about the airport? How about flying into this Palestinian nation? Are we gonna allow military aircraft to come in and weaponry to come in? And if not, who’s going to keep it from coming in? Well, the Israelis. Well, the Palestinians are gonna say, “We’re not an independent nation if Israel is able to come in and tell us what can land in our airport.” These are problems—these are very hard to solve, all right? 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.” And so what you do is you say, “You 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. We live with that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and 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. On the other hand, I got a call from a former secretary of state. I won’t mention which one it was, but this individual said to me, you know, I think there’s a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis after the Palestinian elections. I said, “Really?” And, you know, his answer was, “Yes, I think there’s some prospect.” And I didn’t delve into it.
After saying all that, Romney emphasized that he was against applying any pressure on Israel: “The idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world.”
One takeaway from Mitt Romney’s comments on Israel/Palestine is that they expose the candidate’s ignorance of the issue, as the Christian Science Monitor’s Dan Murphy points out. For instance, Romney says that “the border between Israel and the West Bank is obviously right there, right next to Tel Aviv.” This is clearly geographically wrong.
But on the other hand, they’re quite refreshing. Romney bragged at the same fundraiser that his campaign features aides that have worked for Benjamin Netanayahu, and yesterday Phil notioned that this is most likely referring to Arthur Finkelstein. With Finklestein and Sheldon Adelson backing Romney, it’s no surprise he rejects the two-state solution. Still, it’s rather shocking to hear a candidate for president of the United States make the case for maintaining Greater Israel until “ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.” Romney has come out against a two-state solution and endorses what Noam Sheizaf calls Israel’s “status quo” choice. This tape should put that status quo under the microscope.
Mother Jones’ David Corn correctly notes that Romney’s remarks demonstrate that “he is out of sync with the predominant view in foreign policy circles that has existed for decades.” That’s true, but that’s also a good thing to have in 2012–it sharpens the debate and makes it clearer. It won’t happen during the campaign, but as Romney’s view begins to be expressed within the mainstream of the Republican Party (and it likely will), perhaps Americans can be treated to a debate about whether apartheid or equal rights is better for Israel/Palestine.
Romney wants to throw the two-state solution in the trash because “Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace.” He wants to keep the situation as is. But the situation as it is right now is one of apartheid.