Palestinians Upset by Gingrich Remark That They Are an 'Invented People'

By the Associated Press | December 10, 2011 | 7:25 AM EST

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a business forum, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian officials are reacting with dismay to Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich's statement that they are an "invented" people.

The Jewish Channel on Friday released excerpts of an interview in which the former House speaker says Palestinians were not a people because they never had a state, and because they were part of the Ottoman Empire before Israel's creation.

In the interview, he says President Barack Obama's effort to treat Palestinians as the same as the Israelis is "favoring the terrorists."

Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rdeneh on Saturday described Gingrich's comments as "unfortunate" and called him "ignorant". Spokesman for Gaza's militant Hamas rulers Fawzi Barhoum says Gingrich displayed "genuine hostility" toward Palestinians.