Newt Gingrich stood by his controversial remarks that the Palestinians are an “invented” people, and at the GOP presidential debate on Saturday night doubled down by continuously blasting the Palestinians as “terrorists.”
“Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes,” Gingrich said. “We are in a situation where everyday rockets are fired into Israel while the United States – the current administration – tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process.”
“Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth,” he continued. “These people are terrorists, they teach terrorism in their schools … it’s fundamentally the time for somebody to have the guts to say enough lying about the Middle East.”
Earlier this week, Gingrich ignited a firestorm when he called the Palestinians “an invented people.”
The other candidates took issue, not with the factuality of the remarks, but rather that it needlessly provoked what is already a delicate situation.
“That’s just stirring up trouble,” Rep. Ron Paul said. “To go out of our way to say that so and so is not a real people … this is how we get involved in so many messes.”
Mitt Romney echoed those sentiments.
“I happen to agree with most of what the Speaker said,” Romney said. “Except by going and saying that most the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the Speaker’s part.”
Romney said Gingrich shouldn’t have thrown “incendiary words into a place which is a boiling pot” because it makes life more difficult for the Israelis. He also said that Gingrich had no right speak on behalf of the Israelis.
“I didn’t speak for the people of Israel,” Gingrich countered. “I spoke as a historian who has looked at the world stage for a very long time … I feel quite confident that an amazing number of Israelis found it nice to have an American tell the truth about the war they are in the middle of.”