Gingrich, who is leading the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, angered the Palestinian Authority with his remarks in a televised interview in which he stated that "an invented Palestinian people…are in fact Arabs."
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told reporters in response, “These are extremely trivial, demeaning and ridiculous remarks. Even the most extremist settlers of Israel wouldn’t talk in such a ridiculous way. Our people have been here from the beginning, and they are determined to remain on their land until the end,” Fayyad continued, without defining what he meant by the “beginning.”
In a Saturday night debate in Iowa, Gingrich continued to show his oratory skills and thorough knowledge about Israel. He not only did not budge an inch from his position but also went further than other significant presidential candidates, virtually all of whom adopt the “two-state” solution, calling for the Palestinian Authority to return to the “negotiating table” and declaring their "solid" support for Israel.
In the debate in Iowa, Gingrich said, "Is what I said factually true? Yes. Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists. It's fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, 'Enough lying about the Middle East.'
"When the president keeps talking about a peace process while Hamas keeps firing missiles into Israel, if we had a country next to us firing missiles, how eager would we be to sit down and negotiate?"
In an attempt to somewhat tone down Gingrich’s remarks, his spokesman R.C. Hammond said. "Newt Gingrich supports a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which will necessarily include agreement between Israel and the Palestinians over the borders of a Palestinian state.”
However, Gingrich did not back down from his message, despite accusations by PA negotiator Saeb Erekat that “these statements of Gingrich's will be the ammunitions and weapons of the Bin Ladens and the extremists for a long, long time.”
Knesset Member Danny Danon, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, applauded Gingrich, whom he said "understands very well the reality we live in the Middle East."
In Gingrich’s televised interview Friday, he stated that the term “Palestinian” did not become a common term until after 1977."This is a propaganda war in which our side refuses to engage and we refuse to tell the truth when the other side lies.”
Ron Paul, who is in hot water with Republican conservatives for wanting to cut foreign aid, including that to Israel, also admitted that Gingrich knows what he is talking about, but – like Romney – added reservations.
“Technically and historically, yes, you know, under the Ottoman Empire, the Palestinians didn’t have a state, but neither did Israel have a state then, too,” Paul said.