Mitt Romney expressed doubt that Israel and Palestine could ever come to a peaceful two-state agreement. The comments were made in May at a Boca Raton fundraiser where they were secretly taped by an anonymous leaker who passed them on to the liberal Mother Jones magazine.
Romney said he thinks "the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish." Romney added that a former secretary of state told him there was a prospect for peace between the two nations, but that he doubted that. The Republican presidential candidate concluded that the best strategy for the U.S. is to "kick the ball down the field" in hopes that "something will happen and resolve it":
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.
Later in his comments, Romney said he hopes one day that "American strength" will cause Palestinians to "some day reach the point where they want peace more than we're trying to force peace on them.'"
Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement that Romney was describing the many difficult issues that would need to be resolved before a two-state solution could take place. "As he's often said, there is this one obvious truth: Peace will not be possible if the extreme elements of the Palestinian side refuse to come to the table for talks or to recognize Israel's right to exist," she said. "A possible unity government between Hamas—a terrorist organization—in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank would squelch the prospect for peace. Gov. Romney believes that the path to a two-state solution is to ensure the security of Israel and not to throw up any more barriers to the two sides engaging in direct negotiations."
Romney spoke to reporters Monday night to address another video from the fundraiser released by the magazine, in which he said that Obama supporters—according to Romney, 47 percent of the population—do not pay income taxes and think of themselves as "victims" who are entitled to government care. Romney defended the comments but said they were not "elegantly stated."
Update: This story has been updated to include Romney's comments about Palestinians potentially reaching a point where they seek peace, which were not included in Mother Jones' original clip.