By Julian Pecquet - 08/06/12 05:46 PM EDT
A liberal Jewish organization is set to deliver 17,000 signatures to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's headquarters Monday afternoon urging him to apologize for remarks many have deemed insulting to the Palestinians.
Jewish Voice for Peace has called Romney's comments at a Jerusalem fundraiser last Monday “racist and ignorant.” Romney says he did not mean to denigrate Palestinians when he credited “the power of at least culture” and the “hand of providence” for Israel's superior economy.
“Your statements in Jerusalem regarding the growth of the Palestinian and Israeli economies were inaccurate and misleading,” the petition states. ”Israel's Occupation of Palestinian land makes it impossible for the Palestinian economy to succeed, not 'cultural differences'.
"Your comments were not a reflection of the values Jews, Americans, and our allies hold dear. We call on you to apologize to the Palestinian people for your willful lack of understanding of the facts on the ground and the racist assumptions behind them.”
Romney initially told Fox News that he “did not speak about the Palestinian culture or about the decisions made in their economy” at the fundraiser, but then penned a National Review piece doubling down on the original comments. The candidate has accused the media of fixating on those and other remarks to weaken his candidacy.
The comments have infuriated the Palestinians, with lead negotiator Saeb Erekat saying Romney had further “destroyed negotiations” on a two-state solution following his push for the United States to recognize the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.