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Palestinians Respond to Gingrich's 'Invented' Remark: 'Most Racist Statement I've Ever Seen

"such thinking should be an alarm and concern for the world."

Editor's note: This post has been updated, see below.

Several Palestinian officials reacted with anger Saturday to Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's statement that the Palestinians are an "invented" people.

"Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places," the former House Speaker told U.S. cable network the Jewish Channel, which released excerpts of the interview Friday.

In response, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad demanded Gingrich "review history."

"From the beginning, our people have been determined to stay on their land," Fayyad said in comments reported by the Palestinian Authority-controlled news agency WAFA. "This, certainly, is denying historical truths."

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat had stronger words, calling Gingrich's comments, "the most racist statement I've ever seen," according to CNN.

Erakat said the remarks show "how really despicable things can get" in American politics and that "such thinking should be an alarm and concern for the world."

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi said Gingrich had "lost touch with reality" and that his statements show "ignorance and bigotry" and were "a cheap way to win [the] pro-Israel vote."

A spokesman for Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip, called Gingrich's statements "shameful and disgraceful."

"These genuine hostility toward Palestinians," spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

According to CNN, Gingrich rival Mitt Romney also questioned his comments.

"I'm not sure that kind of statement gets us any closer to accomplishing an agenda," said Mary Kramer, former U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and Romney surrogate. "And so that's one of the things that I think makes me a little bit nervous about Speaker Gingrich is that he sometimes makes comments that open to very broad interpretations."

UPDATE: Gingrich's campaign has issued a statement clarifying his remarks, though not taking them back. According to CNN, Gingrich press secretary R.C. Hammond said the candidate "supports a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which will necessarily include agreement between Israel and the Palestinians over the borders of a Palestinian state." Hammond added, "However, to understand what is being proposed and negotiated you have to understand decades of complex history -- which is exactly what Gingrich was referencing during the recent interview with Jewish TV. "

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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