Romney senior adviser defended Gov. Mitt Romney’s comments about the effect of culture on Palestine — rather than economics — in an exchange with Andrea Mitchell Wednesday on “Morning Joe.”
ANDREA MITCHELL: Dan, if Gov. Romney had made those points in that speech, I don’t think people would have raised questions and I don’t think he would have had the response from Sa’eb Erekat and other Palestinian leaders. The fact is he made the point much more broadly about the Israeli economy, the Israeli GDP in contrast to the Palestinian GDP without mentioning the Palestinians have faced because of the terrorism, because of the second anti-fada and because of all of that history and Israel’s need for security, but they have faced a wall. They have faced closures where it takes people an hour to get to their jobs, to go two miles because of all of the restrictions and the way they have to — if you have driven through the west bank in recent years you would understand the difference between Ramallah — when we were there in 2004, a bustling, thriving economy, and Ramallah in the intervening years because of all of the reactions. those were not the points that governor Romney made. Just — he was talking about borders and about adjacent economies in the most generalized terms.
SENOR: So –
MITCHELL: And that was why it was so deeply offensive.
SENOR: So, Andrea, let me, there’s a lot in there, so, let me, in what you just said, so, let me unpackage it. First of all, the trade restrictions and the roadblock that are burdening the Gaza strip in particular –
MITCHELL: I was talking about the west bank. not the Gaza strip.
SENOR: Fine, burdening the west bank, either one. The trade restrictions, the roadblocks.
MITCHELL: They’re very different, Dan.
SENOR: Let me finish.
MITCHELL: You’re talking about a war zone versus –
SENOR: Let me respond. You said a lot. Let me respond to it. Choices that certain actors make in the Palestinian territories as it relates to security and violence and terrorism against the Israelis requires the Israelis to do certain things, to protect basic security. You talked about the security fence. You talked about the roadblocks. They don’t put up the roadblocks to have fun. They put up the roadblocks so they can actually see if someone coming in Israel has a suicide bomb strapped to their belt, to inspect a human or to inspect a vehicle to see if it’s loaded with explosives takes a little time. When you have a lot of people lined up at a roadblock and you have to check every car and every body to make sure someone’s not coming in to blow up a classroom full of school children, that takes time and that absolutely imposes that time and hassle and inconvenience absolutely imposes an economic burden on the Palestinian society. but this isn’t a choice Israel is making. It’s a response Israel is taking. In response to these decisions that these terrorists are making. So you tell me if that is Israel’s fault or that is a choice that certain actors in the Palestinian territories are making that are hurting their own people, that are hurting Salam Fayyads who just want normalcy.