US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said that Palestinians “have no interest whatsoever” in peace with Israel, seemingly dismissing the two-state solution, in hidden camera video from May that only now has become public.
The footage, which was posted online on Tuesday, shows Romney responding to a question about the “Palestinian problem” that was posed to him at a reportedly lavish $50,000-a-plate fundraiser in Florida, on May 17.
“The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and … the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish,” Romney said.
“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.
“[So] you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognise that this is going to remain an unsolved problem,” he said.
The remarks, in a video clip posted on the website of Mother Jones magazine, follow an ealier clip from the same event in which Romney says that almost half of Americans, particularly Barack Obama supporters, “believe that they are victims”.
On Tuesday, Mother Jones website quoted Romney as saying he was against applying any pressure on Israel to give up disputed territory for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
“The idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world,” Romney said, according to the magazine. Mother Jones did not provide video of that comment.
Romney also criticised Obama’s foreign policy approach.
“The president’s foreign policy, in my opinion, 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 [Vladimir] Putin and [Hugo] Chávez and Mahmoud 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,” Romney says. “And it’s an extraordinarily naive perception.”
In the earlier clip released on Monday, Romney scorned Obama voters.
“There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the president [Obama] no matter what … there are 47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it,” he said.
At a hastily called news conference late on Monday night, Romney did not dispute the clip but conceded the comments were not “elegantly stated” and that they were spoken “off the cuff”.
“It’s not elegantly stated. Let me put it that way,” Romney said, in California. “I’m sure I could state it more clearly and in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that.”
After first concealing the date and location of the video to protect their source, Mother Jones said they had been released from their agreement and wrote that the video was filmed at the home of controversial private equity manager Marc Leder in Boca Raton, Florida.
The Romney campaign has not disputed the authenticity of the video released on Monday.
The videos are the latest setback for a campaign struggling with low poll numbers and reports of infighting ahead of the November election.
It added to Romney’s problems as he tried on Monday to retool his campaign message with more specifics on policies after reports of internal disarray.
He has slipped in polls in the last two weeks as the selection of running mate Paul Ryan and the Republican National
Convention failed to make much of a mark with voters.
A Reuters/Ipsos survey on Monday taken over the previous four days showed Romney – often painted by rivals as an out-of-touch elitist – trailing Obama by five percentage points.