In an interview with the Jewish Channel conducted earlier this week, former Speaker of the House and current Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich referred to Palestinians as “an invented people,” based on the fact that the State of Palestine has never, in fact, existed.
"Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire.” He continued, “I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it's tragic."
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad responded to Gingrich’s statement, saying "our people have been here since the very beginning and are determined to stay on their land until the very end." As to the beginning and end of what, Fayad did not specify.
He continued to say that Gingrich was denying historical facts, but did not explain what facts were being denied.
Gingrich’s statements were seen by some in the Jewish world to be very encouraging, though by others it was seen as an attempt to speak to the audience he was in front of. For example, every Republican presidential candidate has for decades made repeated promises to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, yet none have ever done so.
The question remains as to what Gingrich’s policy would be regarding the peace process, which has been stuck at a standstill for the past 12 years despite, or perhaps even due to American involvement. Would he intervene and force the two sides to negotiate or would he allow the sides involved to work out the issues alone whenever they mutually decide to?
Regarding the release of convicted Jewish spy Jonathan Pollard, Gingrich indicated that he is biased towards clemency, though he would have to examine the strong opposition to his release once President in order to make a decision. Pollard has served over a quarter century behind bars, the most of any spy convicted of espionage for a friendly country in US history.