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Palestinians absent in final US presidential debate
Published Tuesday 23/10/2012 (updated) 24/10/2012 22:17
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Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and US President
Barack Obama talk at the conclusion of the final US presidential
debate in Boca Raton, Oct. 22, 2012. (Reuters/Jason Reed)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- US President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney mentioned the Palestinians only once and in passing in their final presidential debate Monday.

Israel came up repeatedly in the debate on foreign policy, the final face-to-face encounter between the candidates before voting in early November.

Romney accused Obama of failing Israel, which the Democrat has not visited since taking office four years ago.

Both men declared they would defend Israel if it were attacked by Iran and both vowed to pursue tough policies against Tehran's disputed nuclear ambitions and keep military action as a last resort.

The Palestinians, however, only came up in passing as Romney mentioned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but both candidates quickly moved on to other matters.

The Palestinians "were barely mentioned, and only in passing, in a debate purportedly about foreign policy," said Yousef Munayyer of the Washington-based Palestine Center.

"Israel, on the other hand, was a major subject and the candidates competed to show who loves Israel more.

"Regardless of one’s views on the Middle East or American foreign policy it is crystal clear that the United States’ domestic politics make serious even-handed engagement in Israel-Palestinian peace impossible."

With two weeks left until Election Day, the high-stakes debate was one last chance for the candidates to appeal to millions of voters watching on television.

Appealed to 'xenophobic instincts'

Palestinian-American commentator Ali Abunimah said the debate presented the worst of America.

"The debate was full of focus group-tested sound bites meant to cater to the basest and most xenophobic instincts of Americans and special interests," he said in a statement.

"It paints a portrait of an America that is paranoid and hates the world, but is ready to send drones to kill people in every corner of it.'

Snap polls declared Obama the winner, but 60 percent of people in a CNN survey said Romney was capable of being commander in chief, accomplishing a key goal set out by his advisers.

Obama criticized Romney for lacking ideas on the Middle East, mocked his calls for more ships in the US military and accused Romney of wanting to bring the United States back to a long-abandoned Cold War stance.

"On a whole range of issues, whether it's the Middle East, whether it's Afghanistan, whether it's Iraq, whether it's now Iran, you've been all over the map," Obama said.

Noura Erakat, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, perceived a disconnect about the role of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in other hotspots in the region.

"The 2006 Iraq Study Group concluded that in order to achieve its objectives in the Middle East, the US must resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict by diplomatic means," Erakat said.

"Yet six years later, both major presidential candidates endorsed one-sided militarism and failed to address, with any sophistication, the root causes of the conflict and the diplomatic vigor necessary to address them.

"While their policies remain seemingly shallow and opaque, both men made clear that the US is not a peace broker in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is a part of the problem."

Reuters contributed to this report.
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1 ) MATT / USA
23/10/2012 16:59
The debates also failed to mention the scandanavians. what about them?

2 ) Around / World
23/10/2012 17:25
Gabon was not mentioned at all - outrageous.

3 ) Glatt / USA
23/10/2012 18:36
And not one mention of the long-suffering people of Luxemburg!

4 ) Arnold / Canada
23/10/2012 18:39
Aside from grief what else does Palestine offer ? Since Nov 30 1947 when the United Nations mandated the State of Palestine none of the people has ever stepped forward to offer anything to the world other than chaos. Full blame goes to the other Arab countries which preferred Palestine to be in limbo all these years.

5 ) Mahmoud / Palestine
23/10/2012 21:40
The issue isn't just mentioning us for the sake of saying 'Palestine', but the fact that we weren't mentioned showed the lack of US interest in helping Palestine and ignoring the actions of its ally Israel. They speak of the freedom and rights of Egypt, Libya, Syria...but Palestinians don't deserve to live in dignity?

6 ) Better / World
23/10/2012 23:09
The reason why it's surprising the Israeli-Palestinian conflict wasn't mentioned (#1 -3)is because the debate was particularly about US foreign policy and the Middle East was at the center of it all. The reason why you compared the negligence of this topic with the absence of the Scandinavians, Gabon, or Luxembourg not only is out of context but is perhaps another example of how a conflict so protracted and crucial in regional/global dynamics is not seriously dealt with!

7 ) ghada / palestine
24/10/2012 09:33
you know Arnold from Canada , you never failed to miss the opportunity to show your hatred towards the Palestinians in your comments .How about visiting PALESTINE when you visit Israel .
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