Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images
By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
Mitt Romney reportedly has angered Palestinians with his comments
about their economy and his pledge to move the U.S. embassy from Tel
Aviv to Jerusalem.
"What is this man doing here?" Saeb Erekat, an
aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told the
Associated Press about Romney.
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he destroyed negotiations by saying Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,
and today he is saying Israeli culture is more advanced than
Palestinian culture. Isn't this racism?," Erekat said.
House has said the status of Jerusalem "should be resolved in final
status negotiations" between the Israelis and Palestinians.
is heading to Poland today for the third, and last, leg of his overseas
tour. He raised more than $1 million at a fundraising event at
Jerusalem's King David hotel and outlined an aggressive stance toward
Iran in a speech yesterday.
to establish a capital in east Jerusalem, which has been in Israeli
control since the 1967 war -- along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
This morning, Romney's comments to Jewish donors about the Palestinian
economy appeared to touch a nerve:
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
Israel has had a blockade of the
Gaza Strip in place since 2007, since the Islamic militant group Hamas
seized the territory, which has affected the growth of the Palestinian
economy. Israel allowed more food and non-military items into Gaza in
During his speech yesterday in Jerusalem, Romney drew
applause from his audience when he said he was "deeply" moved to be in
Jerusalem. He pledged during a CNN interview to move the U.S. embassy
from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem -- something the past three U.S. presidents
have declined to do while in office.
Erekat said Romney's comments about Jerusalem were "absolutely unacceptable."
White House issued a statement yesterday saying the Obama
administration continues to work on resolving the issue of the U.S.
embassy "and others in a way that is just and fair, and respects the
rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians."
Romney met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad during his trip to Israel, but did not meet with Abbas.
(Contributing: Associated Press)