Sen. Joe Lieberman rejected Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s claim that Palestinians are an “invented” people, calling their existence a “reality.”
“The important fact is that the Palestinians are a people today, and any resolution of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians has to be between two people, two nations,” Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, the Politico web site reported.
Lieberman, who is considered a strong hawk on Israel, said Palestinians are a people even if they have never had a state of their own, as Gingrich pointed out. Israel itself also acknowleges the Palestinians as a people, the senator said.
“Palestinian peoplehood is a reality today,” he said. “We have to both respect and deal with that reality as we try to resolve a conflict between two peoples.”
Even as he defended the Palestinians, Lieberman asserted that they have failed to live up to their side of the bargain when it comes to the issue of gaining statehood.
“A greater majority of Israelis are prepared to accept the idea of a Palestinian state for a Palestinian people than Palestinians are prepared to accept a Jewish state of Israel for the Jewish people,” he said. “That, of course, has to be resolved in negotiations.”