Monday, July 30, 2012
UK: Romney continues to attract controversy
In a breakfast meeting this morning, the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who breakfasted at the King David Hotel: "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."
He 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 realise 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.
"It seems to me this man (Romney) lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," Erekat added. "He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."
The economic disparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians is actually much greater than Romney stated. Israel had a per capita gross domestic product of about $31,000 in 2011, while the West Bank and Gaza had a per capita GDP of just over $1,500, according to the World Bank.