In a video leaked this week, the presidential candidate raised some legitimate concerns about Middle East peace. Here are the solutions he didn't seem to know about.
Just as Mitt Romney's campaign advisors promised this week that his campaign would start having real policy discussions, we receive the candidate's most substantive treatment of the Middle East to date, in the form of a leaked video from a recent closed-door fundraiser. His main thesis seems to be that, for Israelis and Palestinians, "the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish." He provides two general arguments to support his claim, both of which are problematic.
The first argument is that "the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace." As my colleague Max Fisher shrewdly responds:
It's unsettling to see a would-be leader of U.S. foreign policy, which includes stewardship of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, so blithely and sweepingly dismiss an entire side. It would be surprising enough if Romney had suggested that, say, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has "no interest whatsoever in establishing peace," but to treat Palestinians as categorically opposed to peace is a rather extreme interpretation, one that would not seem to serve his potential role as mediator.
If Romney was referring to the Palestinian population at large (which gets him into the same murky territory as his "Palestinian culture" generalization a few weeks ago), he's also incorrect. Opinion polling has shown consistently over the past decade that a strong majority of Palestinians, ranging from 60-70 percent, are in favor of a two-state solution to the conflict.