The now Republican Presidential Nominee front-runner, Newt Gingrich had some interesting ideas for the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations. In an interview with the Jewish Channel on Friday, December 9th, Gingrich revealed some questionable views on the Palestinian state and a day later, defended these views in the Republican presidential candidates' debate in Des Moines, Iowa. In this past weekend Gingrich has come out against the peace process between Israel and Palestine, referred to the Palestinians as an "invented" people and were basically a residue of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, and called both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas terrorist organizations. Gingrich is well known for make factually questionable remarks in the past but such a strong shift in a decades long peace process may be the wrong starting point for Newt's foreign policy platform.
In regards to the "invented" Palestinian comment, Newt said, "there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and who were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places." Palestinians are Arabs just as Egyptians, Copts, Syrians, and Iraqis are Arabs. They are a distinct culture within the area of Southern Lebanon, Israel, Sinai, Southwest Syria and Eastern Jordan. Palestine was a state was formed out of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and became a semi-sovereign entity (within Britain's sphere of influence) after the Sykes Picot treaty of 1916, but the Palestinians have maintained a presence in the area for thousands of years. Middle East support for Palestine and Gaza may be driven more by domestic politic's within each country and may not be entirely genuine, but to the Palestinians, statehood is a very real goal. Gingrich does not believe that we should help facilitate a peace process and that statehood should not be granted to Palestine. This belief held by Newt is opposite to that the majority of Israel and its government under Prime Minister Netanyahu which supports a two-state solution.
If Newt eventually becomes the Republican nominee for president, he will have to further explain to the American public why he believes to the peace process is futile. He must understand that the feelings an Palestinian ambassador to India's opinion on the peace process between Israel and Palestine is much different than Mahmoud Abba's opinion on the topic. Just as he must learn that radical ideas of policy shifts by a ex-Speaker are easier to make with less repercussions than the same remarks as president. If Newt does become president, this stance on Palestine will not only anger much of the Middle East, it may alienate other countries outside the region as well.