Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the first Jew on a major party’s national ticket, said Tuesday he disagrees with Newt Gingrich’s assertion that the Palestinians are 'an invented' people.
Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
Mr. Gingrich "expressed one view” of the Palestinians’ history, Senator Lieberman said Tuesday at a Monitor-hosted breakfast with reporters. “There are others, of course, that are quite different. To me the important fact is, the Palestinians are a people today and any resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has to be between two peoples, two nations.”
Last week, former House Speaker Gingrich told an interviewer from cable TV’s Jewish Channel that Palestinians’ effort to gain statehood was the result of “an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and were historically part of the Arab community.”
Gingrich came under fire for that comment from other Republican presidential candidates at a debate Saturday in Iowa. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called Gingrich’s comments “a mistake.” Gingrich responded that Palestinian groups “are terrorists,” adding that ''sometimes it's helpful to have a president of the United States who tells the truth.''
R.C. Hammond, a Gingrich campaign spokesman, later released a statement elaborating upon the candidate's views: It said, “Gingrich supports a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians which will necessarily include agreement between Israel and the Palestinians over the borders of a Palestinian state.”
Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut, was the first Jew to be on a major party ticket, when he was Democrat Al Gore’s vice-presidential pick in 2000. At the breakfast on Tuesday, he said there is irony in the fact that “a greater majority of Israelis are prepared to accept the idea of a Palestinian state for a Palestinian people than Palestinians are prepared to accept a Jewish state of Israel for the Jewish people. And that, of course, has to be resolved in negotiations.”
The senator, an observant Orthodox Jew, said the bottom line is that “whatever one’s view of history, the Palestinian people-hood is a reality today, and we have to both respect and deal with that reality as we try to resolve the conflict.”