Herman Cain Fumbles on Palestinian 'Right of Return' Question
Just one day after announcing Republican candidacy for president, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain weighed in on Middle East Peace during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.
Asked by host Chris Wallace on whether he would offer the Palestinians anything in negotiations for peace, Cain bluntly answered: "Nothing."
"I’m not convinced the Palestinians are really interested in peace. If the Palestinians come to the table with Israel, with a genuine offer, that the two of them can sit down and negotiate, the United States would in fact try to facilitate that discussion," said Cain.
"But if we look at history, it has been clear that the Palestinians have always wanted to push the Israelis and push Israel for more and more and more."
Cain's comments were delivered minutes before President Barack Obama addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday. During a speech Thursday, Obama made a call for Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 lines with "mutually agreed swaps."
But Cain disagreed with the president's position, stating, "It’s Israel’s decision, not President Obama’s decision as to where those border lines ought to be. That’s something that should be negotiated."
On Sunday, the president clarified his remarks on what he meant about the 1967 borders.
"By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama said.
When Wallace asked Cain to state his position on the Palestinian "right of return" issue, the potential GOP presidential contender appeared somewhat confused.
"Where do you stand on the right of return?" asked Wallace.
"The right of return? [pause] The right of return?" asked Cain.
Wallace then offered more information, "The Palestinian right of return."
"I think it should be negotiated," Cain replied.
"Do you think the refugees, the people that were kicked out of the land in 1948 should be able to have any right to return to Israeli land?" Wallace further probed.
"Yes, but not under Palestinian conditions," said Cain. "Yes, they should have the right to come back if that is a decision that Israel wants to make."
"It's up to Israel to determine things they want to accept," he added. "I don't think they have a problem with people returning. The issue is that there are some things they simply don't want to give in on."
Several blogs caught onto Cain's blunder, including ABC News blog and Think Progress, a liberal blog.
"Cain desperately needs a foreign policy briefing so that he can get his talking points in order," wrote Faiz Shakir, editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress.org and vice president at the Center for American Progress.
In his blog post, Shakir brought attention to comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday that ran counter to Cain's portrayal of Israel's position on the issue.
On the issue of right of return, Netanyahu said in his Oval Office lecture: "The third reality is that the Palestinian refugee problem will have to be resolved in the context of a Palestinian state, but certainly not in the borders of Israel. … So it’s not going to happen. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen. And I think it’s time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly it’s not going to happen."