TEL AVIV — Mitt Romney found himself in hot water with Palestinian leaders on Monday, when he suggested that their economic struggles was at least in part a result of a cultural difference between them and Israelis.
But Romney's comment sends a different message than the one Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed to the U.S. Congress last May, when he declared that their economy is "booming."
"We’ve helped, on our side, we’ve helped the Palestinian economic growth by removing hundreds of barriers and roadblocks to the free flow of goods and people, and the results have been nothing short of remarkable," Netanyahu said.
The Palestinian economy is booming. It’s growing by more than 10 percent a year. And Palestinian cities -- they look very different today than what they looked just few -- a few years ago. They have shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, banks. They even have e-businesses, but you can’t see that when you visit them. That’s what they have. It’s a great change. And all of this is happening without peace. So imagine what could happen with peace.
Romney also misstated the GDP figures for Israel and the Palestinian territories, noted Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of The Jerusalem Fund.
Romney listed the per-capita GDP of Israel at $21,000 and $10,000 in the Palestinian territories. In fact, in 2011, Israel's per-capita GDP was $31,005, while in 08, Palestinian per-capita GDP was just at $2,900.