Mitt Romney’s “rewarding occupation, settlement and extremism” is “harmful to American interests,” charged Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat after the presumptive Republican presidential candidate’s remarks in Jerusalem Sunday.
Romney’s loud-and-clear pro-Israel statements, including a declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state, infuriated the Palestinian Authority.
"I don't think occupation and aggression is rewarded even during an election campaign," Erekat was reported as saying, according to CNN.
"East Jerusalem is occupied territory," Erekat continued, referring to northern, southern and eastern areas of the city that were restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967. "Those who seek peace between Palestine and Israel and those who seek to save lives must stand tall for the two state solution and for East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine."
Romney’s visit was highlighted by his appearance at the Western Wall in the Old City, where the PA wants to claim its capital if it gains recognition as another Arab country in the Middle East.
"My understanding is the policy of our nation has been a desire to move our embassy ultimately to the capital (Jerusalem)," he said, adding, "I would only want to do so and to select the timing in accordance with the government of Israel."
Congress passed a law nearly 15 years go that the U.S. embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but the legislation includes a waiver, exercised by every president since then, to postpone the move if dong such were to damage U.S. “national security.” The waiver expires after six months but has been renewed every time.
Romney concludes his two-day trip to Israel with a fund-raiser Monday morning at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.