Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, in a campaign stop in Iowa on Friday, said there are no Palestinians in the West Bank, only Israelis. According to Rick Santorum, all people "who live in the West Bank are Israelis."
Reuters reports the former Pennsylvania Senator told a participant at an Iowa campaign event that "All the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they're not Palestinians."
Rick Santorum defended his statement by comparing the status of people in the West Bank with the status of people in New Mexico and Texas, both being territories the U.S. won in wars, even as Israel won the West Bank territory in war. According to Santorum, the Israelis have a right to build settlements in the West Bank because the West Bank is ground "gained during war" following "an aggressive attack."
Rick Santorum concluded:
"The bottom line is that West Bank is legitimately Israeli country. And they have a right to do within their country just like we have a right to do within our country. If they want to negotiate with Israelis, and all the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they’re not Palestinians. There is no ‘Palestinian.’ This is Israeli land.”
Rick Santorum also said that all Iranian nuclear scientists are enemy combatants, implying that the U.S. has the right to target them for assassination. According to Santorum:
"Nuclear scientists who work on this program, particularly if they come from foreign countries into that, they will be seen as enemy combatants. They will be people who are threats to the United States just like your garden variety terrorist."
Reuters points out, significantly, that Santorum did not explain whether the "Israelis" who live in the West Bank should be accorded equal citizenship rights with all other Israelis.
Rick Santorum is known for his extreme views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on Iran. The Jerusalem Post reports that on November 10, Santorum said about Iran:
"A country that is developing a weapon of mass destruction to use it or destroy another country must be stopped in a preemptive strike."
Rick Santorum performed poorly in the last Gallup Poll.