Sunday, December 11, 2011

Palestinians tell Gingrich to learn history after 'invented people' claim


Officials in West Bank and Gaza say Republican presidential hopeful is cheaply trying to win the pro-Israel vote in US

Palestinian officials have reacted with dismay after the Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said Palestinians were an "invented" people.

The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, said Gingrich was denying "historical truths".

Gingrich said in an interview with The Jewish Channel that Palestinians were not a race of people because they had never had a state and because they were part of the Ottoman empire before the British mandate and Israel's creation.

"Remember, there was no Palestine as a state, [it was] part of the Ottoman empire," he said in a video excerpt posted online. "I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and historically part of the Arab community and they had the chance to go many places."

Fayyad demanded Gingrich "review history". He said: "From the beginning, our people have been determined to stay on their land."

Fayyad's comments were carried by the Palestinian news agency Wafa. "This, certainly, is denying historical truths," he said.

Gingrich's statements struck at the heart of Palestinian sensitivities about their national struggle. Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian politician, said Gingrich had "lost touch with reality" and his statements were "a cheap way to win [the] pro-Israel vote".

A spokesman for Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, called Gingrich's statements "shameful and disgraceful". "These statements … show genuine hostility toward Palestinians," the spokesman said.

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