WASHINGTON -- Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) rejected Newt Gingrich's controversial comment last week that the Palestinians are an "invented" people, saying Tuesday that, like it or not, they "are a people today, and any resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has to be between two people."
Lieberman, who made history in 2000 as the first Jewish candidate on a major party's presidential ticket before becoming a thorn in the side of his former Democratic colleagues on a range of issues including the Middle East, told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that Gingrich's opinion was only "one view of history."
"Over the years I've done a lot of reading in Palestinian history, and there are a lot of different theories about the history of Palestinian peoplehood and nationhood. But to me -- so Speaker Gingrich expressed one view of that history, and there are others, of course, that are quite different -- to me, the important fact is that the Palestinians are a people today, and any resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has to be between two people, two nations," Lieberman said.
The senator, who endorsed Republican John McCain for president in 2008 and has been a leading neoconservative voice on Capitol Hill since he and Al Gore lost to George W. Bush, went on to take a dig at the Palestinians.
"From what I can tell, a greater majority of Israelis are prepared to accept the idea of a Palestinian state for Palestinian people than Palestinians are prepared to accept a Jewish state of Israel for the Jewish people. And that, of course, has to be resolved in negotiations," he said.
Still, Lieberman said, the "bottom line I'd say [is] that whatever one's view of history, Palestinian peoplehood is a reality today, and we have to both respect and deal with that reality as we try to resolve the conflict."