JERUSALEM — A top foreign policy aide to presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney said Palestinian leaders must drop a key policy demand — the so called “Right of Return” — in order for there to be a peace deal with Israelis.
Dan Senor, Romney’s Special Adviser on Foreign Policy, laid out three principles that must be met by Palestinians before a peace deal can be reached.
“There should be no right of return, this is not a platform for new Palestinian refugees down the road to return to Israel,” Senor told reporters. “If there is a Palestinian state, that should be the home for Palestinians wanting to return to this region.”
The issue has been a central demand of Palestinians, and has been rejected by Israeli leaders who argue that it would jeopardize the country’s status as a Jewish state. Palestinians say that refugees and decedents of refugees of those displaced in the 1948 war for Israel’s independence have a right to reclaim their homes before the war.
The Obama administration has largely steered clear of the issue, saying the Right of Return should be something Israeli and Palestinian leaders discuss at the negotiating table. The Romney position on this issue appears to be absolute — representing his first significant policy break with the president announced on this foreign trip.
Romney’s other conditions for a peace agreement, according to Senor, was that the deal be final and that Palestinian and Arab leaders recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Romney is spending the day meeting with top Israeli leaders and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. before making remarks on the “enduring alliance” between Israel and the United States.