TEL AVIV (JTA) — Former Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Mitt Romney’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “unacceptable.”
Erekat said that Romney’s statement during a policy speech on Sunday, in which the presumptive Republican presidential candidate said that Jerusalem is “the capital of Israel,” goes against years of U.S. policy. The status of Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as both sides claim it as a capital.
“At the end of the day, the U.S. has interests in this region, it has embassies in 57 Arab and Muslim countries," Erekat told The Associated Press. "I don’t think they will sacrifice everything for such statements, mere disturbing statements that will strengthen extremists in the region."
Erekat helped negotiate the Oslo Accords between the U.S. and Israel in 1993, and resigned as Palestinian chief negotiator in 2011. He remains an aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
During a trip to Israel on Sunday and Monday, Romney met with several Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. He also met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He did not meet with Abbas, nor did he mention the Palestinians once during Sunday’s policy speech.