Newt uses blunt language, not diplomacy

PITTSBURGH, Penn. (U-WIRE) — Well done, Newt Gingrich. Congratulations! You deserve a medal for the outstanding display of diplomacy you’ve shown on your trip to the Middle East.
Seemingly determined to make a fool of the United States and undermine current negotiations over Israel’s partial withdrawal from the Palestinian West Bank, Gingrich accused the Palestinian Authority of “systematically inciting violence among its followers.”
He also said, “I think it’s wrong for the American Secretary of State to become the agent for the Palestinians.”
Though he did not visit the proposed site of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which would be a rubber-stamp approval by the U.S. for Israel’s claim to the city (Palestine wants the mostly-Muslim East Jerusalem as its capital), he said Jerusalem should be the symbolic capital of the Jewish state.
His comments prompted a walkout in the Israeli Parliament by Palestinian representatives, and caused several people in Washington to gape and wonder at the length and breadth of the House Speaker’s stupidity (not that this is the first time, though).
This begs the question: Why the hell was Gingrich, of all prominent American political figures, sent as a diplomat into one of the world’s most volatile negotiation processes? Was Louis Farrakhan ill? Was Ralph Reed attending a convention? Sending Gingrich to the Middle East makes about as much sense as inviting the Marquis de Sade to a children’s birthday party.
Thankfully, Gingrich’s motor mouth did not cause too much damage, except to himself, by raising a few giggles with his assertion that Palestinian negotiators are incompetent. Yes, that’s right; Newt Gingrich, of all people, implied someone else is incompetent.
Despite this aggressive pandering to the Israelis, Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai said on Monday there was a general agreement over a “double-digit” percentage withdrawal from the West Bank, which he says will be lower than the 13 percent suggested by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and agreed on by the Palestinian Authority.
The State Department’s James Rubin said with the exception of the comments, Gingrich’s trip had gone well.
Perhaps Rubin should’ve just told Gingrich to shut up.

This staff editorial appeared in Wednesday’s University of Pittsburgh Pitt News.