US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is on the defensive after a video surfaced showing him making unflattering remarks about US voters and dismissing efforts at Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Romney's campaign has been scrambling to mitigate fallout from the video, in which he tells wealthy donors at a USD 50,000-a-plate fundraising dinner that 47 percent of Americans "believe they are victims" and that his job as president wouldn't be to "worry about those people."
The Republican also told donors that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians will remain an unsolved problem because Palestinians aren't willing to negotiate, explaining that they are "committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel" and suggesting that the best solution is to "kick the ball down the field."
Romney is facing harsh criticism not only from his political opponents but also from Palestinians, including an aide to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who called the presidential hopeful's remarks "absolutely unacceptable." On the streets, Bethlehem residents also expressed frustration.
Dr. Sammy Sayeh, Bethlehem resident:
"I think that Mr Romney, either he is ill advised or he is ignorant about Palestinian history and politics because I believe if he knows anything about Palestinians, he will know that Palestinians are seeking peace and seeking a negotiated settlement with the Israelis since the days of Arafat. But it is the Israelis who do not want to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians."
A series of recent surveys have shown Obama with an edge in the presidential race at both a national level and in the key battleground states of Florida and Ohio, suggesting that with a little over 6 weeks to go until polling stations open Romney's recent comments have done him no favours in what is becoming an increasingly heated election battle.