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Palestinians Slam Remarks by US Presidential Candidate

Leading Republican presidential contender and former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich (file photo)

Palestinians have expressed outrage at Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who described them as an “invented people.”

During an interview with the Jewish Channel, a cable television channel in the United States, Gingrich departed from official American policy which supports the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“There was no Palestine as a state," he said. "It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And 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, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and I think it’s tragic," Gingrich said.

Palestinian officials described the remarks as “despicable” and “racist.”

Negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Gingrich of denying the existence of the Palestinian people and said that will lead to more hatred and violence.

“These statements are really inciting for bloodshed of Muslems, Christians and Jews in the region and we don’t need such a low level of ridiculous statements," Ereket said.

For years, Erekat has been a top negotiator in peace talks with Israel aimed at a two-state solution. He said Gingrich’s comments harm Palestinian moderates and strengthen the militants.

“Mark my words, these statements of Gingrich will be the ammunition and weapons of the bin Ladens and the extremists for a long, long, long time to come."

A spokesman for Mr. Gingrich says the candidate supports a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, but Palestinian officials say Gingrich has shown the world that he is not fit to be President of the United States.