Republican presidential hopeful defends Israel and says Palestinians are Arabs who "had a chance to go many places."
Republican White House hopeful Newt Gingrich has stirred controversy by calling the Palestinians an "invented" people who could have chosen to live elsewhere.
The former House of Representatives speaker, who is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential race, made the remarks in an interview with the US Jewish Channel broadcaster released on Friday.
Asked whether he considers himself a Zionist, he answered: "I believe that the Jewish people have the right to a state ... Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire" until the early 20th century,
"I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab
"And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it's tragic."
Most historians mark the start of Palestinian Arab nationalist sentiment in 1834, when Arab residents of the Palestinian region revolted against Ottoman rule.
Israel, founded amid the 1948 Arab-Israel war, took shape along the lines of a 1947 UN plan for ethnic partition of the
then-British ruled territory of Palestine which Arabs rejected.
More than 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their lands by Zionist armed groups in 1948, in an episode Palestinians refer to as the Nakba or "catastrophe".