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WATCH: Mitt Romney says two-state solution is 'unthinkable'

In the video below, Mitt Romney implies that the two-state solution is dead, and after essentially stating that all Muslims in the Middle East are a threat to Israel, sums up his foreign policy strategy with “hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.” Oh, and he also thinks the West Bank borders Syria. 

In a covert video from a May fundraiser for Mitt Romney published by Mother Jones on Monday, the Republican presidential candidate articulated that “there is just no way” for there to be a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and rendered any efforts at negotiations basically obsolete.

Romney also seems to have his geography very confused, as he suggests the West Bank borders on Syria (at 00:59).

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.

To his credit, he admits he doesn’t have a map in front of him:

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..

His reasoning for the two-state solution being “unthinkable” is that the Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish” adding that they are “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel.”

He also links what would be a “new Palestinian nation” directly to Iran, arguing that the Shi’ite country would try to infiltrate the West Bank as it has with Syria and Jordan, bringing “missiles and armament.” His use of the word “nation” here is weird and erroneous, since the nation already exists and what he should have said is “state.” For example, it is quite awkward when he expresses concern for Israel’s security by asking, “How about flying into the Palestinian nation?”

My sense is that it is difficult for him to express the words “Palestinian” and “state” together in a single phrase, as it is for many in the ruling Likud party and others who have openly endorsed a one-state solution or a scenario (espoused most saliently by Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon, now touring the U.S. with his book Israel: The Will to Prevail) in which Israel annexes most of the West Bank and Palestinians come under Jordanian and Egyptian sovereignty.

As Ali Gharib points out in the Daily Beast’s Open Zion blog, Romney’s enumeration of objections to a two-state solution are not actually “obstacles to peace” but rather just his own personal political bias. For example, the fact that Syria and Jordan border Israel is not an obstacle but a reality, one Israel has had to deal with and will continue to deal with if it wants to become a permanent fixture in the Middle East.

Essentially, the video underscores that Romney is more aligned with the rightwing in Israel (possibly even more to the right than Netanyahu himself) than he is with his own party, whose platform does at least nominally endorse a two-state solution. Romney also lumps together the entire Middle East under one big threat to Israel – with absolutely no sensitivity to the different countries and their internal politics or the suffering of many people under these regimes.

Considering he sees all Muslims in the area as such a threat, it is pretty weird that his only offer for a solution is to “kick the ball around” and “hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.” Now that is what I call solid foreign policy.

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    1. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      Three things about Romney’s overall analysis: (1) he’s perfectly expressing the near-consensus of Israeli Jewish opinion since September-October 2000; (2) my guess is that he’s approximately expressing Obama’s privately held opinion as well; (3) he’s right.

      The stuff about geography (Syria), viewpoint (“not interested in peace”), and terminology (“nation”) is trivial. Americans use the word “nation” instead of state; that’s just different terminology, and you have to get used to it if you want to communicate with Americans. The statement that Palestinians are not interested in peace is correct, as is the statement that Israelis are not interested in peace: neither side is interested in a peace that would be acceptable to the other side.

      I’m surprised that anyone doubts that a state of Palestine would become a client state of Iran, or at least that Iran would try. Do you honestly believe that Iran would not try that? I’m guessing that other +972 contributors, such as Noam Sheizaf, would be quite willing to acknowledge that.

      Romney’s descriptions of the problems of sovereignty are exactly right. Israel would not accept an agreement that allows a fully sovereign state. On the other hand, such a state will immediately try to arm itself illegally (what state wouldn’t?). And who’s going to try to stop that, if not Israel?

      Reply to Comment
      • What’s new about Romney is not that he thinks Israeli-Palestinian peace is hard-to-impossible, it’s that he thinks Israel is wholly blameless for the impasse. Every president since ’67 believed in land-for-peace, in each side coming toward the other, but not Romney. He doesn’t think Israel should give the Palestinians anything, he sees nothing wrong with Israel taking Palestinian land for Jewish settlements, nothing wrong with Israeli military rule over the West Bank. This is unprecedented. Meanwhile, eight years of PA cooperation with the IDF and Shin Bet have gone right past him – he still says “the Palestinians are committed to Israel’s destruction.” He’s an Arab-bashing Likudnik, plain and simple – and very, very far to the right of George W. Bush. And he’s considered a moderate among Republicans!

        Reply to Comment
        • Aaron the Fascist Troll

          It’s empirically true that “the Palestinians are committed to Israel’s destruction.” More precisely, about 67 percent of Palestinians believe that a two-state agreement is just a stage towards the goal of Israel’s destruction and Palestinian rule over all of Palestine. That’s according to poll data cited right here at +972, by Dahlia Sheindlin. And the other 33 percent sure aren’t going to do what it takes to stop it. So, yes, that factual statement is irrefutably true, if interpreted reasonably.

          Obviously I disagree with Romney’s position (as you describe it, I’m not familiar with it myself) on settlement and not giving the Palestinians anything. But as far as I know, no American president, Democrat or Republican, has said there’s anything wrong with Israeli rule over the West Bank, i.e., belligerent occupation – until there’s a true peace agreement, of course. That’s just UNSC Resolution 242.

          Reply to Comment
          • “Committed to Israel’s destruction” means that’s the goal they are pursuing – not dreaming of or wishing for, but pursuing. There’s no poll on earth that says 67% of Palestinians are pursuing Israel’s destruction, and reality on the ground indicates that very, very few of them are.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron the Fascist Troll

            If one goal (a Palestinian state next to Israel) is currently seen by many as a necessary, intermediate step towards another goal (no more Israel), and if that fact has to be de-emphasized in public by certain actors for obvious reasons, then how can you say they’re actively pursuing the first goal but not the second?

            If you’re flying from Tel Aviv to New York and you change flights in Milan, then yes, on the first leg of your journey you’re traveling to Milan, or “committed” to reaching Milan. But you’re just as much traveling to and committed to reaching New York.

            Finally, even if you don’t accept this line of argument, the fact remains that well-organized, well-armed groups *are* actively pursuing Israel’s destruction – overtly – and that there’s no willingness among Palestinians to do what it takes to stop them. That fact is more important than the survey numbers. It would still be salient even if the numbers were reversed.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron the Fascist Troll

            Also, I don’t remember the exact wording of the survey question, but it was something like, “Do you see” a two-state agreement as blah blah blah. In other words, it was a lot more concrete than “dreaming” or “wishing.” It was about what the further course of action would be after statehood.

            The Palestinian dream of sovereignty from the river to the sea is not some distant, eschatological dream. I only wish! If it were, they’d have their state today, and that would be a very good thing.

            Reply to Comment
      • Jack


        If palestinians are going to be independent they are of course free to have relations with any state they want, just like Israel today is free to have any relations with any state.

        Being pro-peace is to recognize two states, this has palestinians done. First time was in the 70s and formally it was in the 80s.

        If you check the ruling parties in Israel there is no one that support a palestinian state as far as international law is concerned.

        One step forward is to relieve the blockade and freeze the building of settlements, otherwhise we are off to a one state solution in the coming decades. The exact resolution that Israel dont want but drifting there anyway.

        Its also interesting for Romney to say that palestinians dont want peace and that they only ‘seek the destruction of Israel’. Isnt it the reversed exact thing that have happend for the palestinians since 1948?

        On the other hand, it doesnt matter much what he is saying namely because it has no international backing (the consensus is two states), he recently declared Jerusalem as the israeli capital which is just a ignorant comment rejecting what the international law says about it.

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    2. RichardL

      It’s not up to Romney and it won’t be after November so who cares what he says or thinks? Anybody remember who was Republican party presidential candidate in 1996 or Democratic presidential candidate in 2004?

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    3. Danny

      Interesting man, this Romney. On the one hand, he dismisses 47% of Americans and somehow expects to win the election without them (Hmm, let’s see… 47% for Obama? Well, that MUST mean 53% are for ME! Isn’t math GREAT?!) Then, in a meme that must have originated on the top floor of the Sands hotel & casino, he dismisses the Palestinians entirely from the peace process, adopting verbatim the Likud’s position on maintaining the status quo indefinitely. Wow. Is this an all-time low for the Republican party? I think we’re close to that. Let’s hope on November 7th, the GOP is taken to the back of the woodshed and put out of its misery. I nominate Clint Eastwood for the job, rumor has it he packs a big Magnum.

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        In 2008, before the election, Obama was secretly recorded making a speech in front of a closed group of supporters and here he made his comments which IIRC said that frustrated people hold on to religion and guns for relief, or something to that effect. Most Americans claim to be religious to a lesser or greater degree, so Obama was possibly antagonizing a clear majority of the American population. He won anyway.


        Reply to Comment
    4. Bluegrass Picker of Afula

      >> Israel has had to deal with and will continue to deal with if it wants to become a permanent fixture in the Middle East.

      Before we go away, we will take all the Palestinians, AND the pagan temples currently on Mount Moriah, to hell with us.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Well, and likely a few other parts of the Middle East strangely considered permanent fixtures when in practicality they *exactly*(and I mean identically) mirror Israel’s permanence.

        Reply to Comment
    5. May


      Reply to Comment
    6. Jack

      Was that Romney just supporting one state solution? Or will he support a situation that brings apartheid?

      Reply to Comment
      • Piotr Berman

        BPoA: Before we go away, we will take all the Palestinians, AND the pagan temples currently on Mount Moriah, to hell with us.

        This is exactly my perception. A considerable class of Israelis do not see any chance of long-term existence, “they hate us anyway”, “transfer would be best but it is not possible” etc. so Plan B is to abandon Israel when necessary, but with a sufficient number of heroic stories that the Exiles will survive another 2000 years of Diaspora in good cheer. Building another Temple would constitute a strong final note. And who knows? Perhaps the Messiah will come.

        Reply to Comment