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With an eye toward the Jewish vote, Newt Gingrich disses Palestinians

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“If we can get to a point where I'm satisfied that there's no national security threat, and if he's in fact served within the range of people who've had a similar problem, then I'd be inclined to consider clemency,” Gingrich said.

RECOMMENDED: Newt Gingrich pushes back against critics

Gingrich’s comments about Palestine brought an immediate and outraged response.

"From the beginning, our people have been determined to stay on their land," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in comments carried by the Palestinian news agency Wafa. "This, certainly, is denying historical truths."

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi said Gingrich had "lost touch with reality." She said his statements were "a cheap way to win the pro-Israel vote."

A spokesman for the militant Hamas rulers of the Palestinian Gaza Strip called Gingrich's statements "shameful and disgraceful."

Palestinians are culturally Arabs – they speak Arabic and their culture is broadly shared by other Arabs who live in the eastern Mediterranean. But for the most part, they identify themselves as Palestinians, just as Lebanese, Jordanians, and Syrians also identify themselves with a specific national identity.

Although they may not wade into the Israel-Palestine debate as Gingrich did, the other Republican candidates in the nominating race likely would not disagree with the former House Speaker’s remarks. As they prepared for Saturday night’s debate, none did.

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