Mitt Romney praised the cultures of economic success in Israel, and criticized the Palestinian economy. Palestinian leaders called Romney's comments 'racist.'
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians, outraging Palestinian leaders who called his comments racist and out of touch.
"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who breakfasted at the luxurious King David Hotel.
Romney did not mention the crippling restrictions that Israel imposes on Palestinian trade and movement. The reaction of Palestinian leaders was swift and pointed, as Romney continued to make missteps on a three-country trip designed to bolster his foreign policy credentials while challenging President Barack Obama for the November election. The Israel visit was designed to appeal to the Jewish vote in a tight race.
"It is a racist statement and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
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