POLITICS

Sheldon Adelson Backed Candidate Who Used Term 'Israeli-Occupied Areas'

03/31/2014 03:17 pm ET | Updated Mar 31, 2014
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- This past weekend, at a meeting of donors to the Republican Jewish Coalition, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) caused a stir when he described areas where Palestinians live alongside a strong Israeli military presence as "occupied territories."

The phrase reportedly set off "murmurs" among the conservative Republican crowd, according to Politico. The site also reported that Christie later apologized to billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson during a private meeting, where Christie clarified that it was "not meant to be a statement of policy.”

It turns out, however, that one of Adelson's favored candidates from the past used a virtually identical phrase not too long ago, and no one seemed to care -- or notice.

"I do not oppose any development in the Israeli-occupied areas, because I think that's part of the negotiating process," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said during his primary campaign during the last presidential election, according to the Daily Beast.

Gingrich made the comment during a December 2011 radio interview, roughly around the time that Adelson began propping up Winning Our Future, a Gingrich-allied super PAC, with millions of dollars in donations. It was a demonstrably pro-Israel remark, with wording similar to what got Christie in trouble over the weekend.

"I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across, and just felt personally how extraordinary that was, to understand the military risk that Israel faces every day," Christie said Saturday in his speech to the RJC.

Adelson, the owner of Las Vegas Sands Corp., spent more money than anyone in U.S. history during the 2012 election cycle, according to ProPublica. He contributed $98 million to candidates and committees, including $20 million to Winning Our Future.

The casino magnate has said he plans to "double" in 2016 what he spent in 2012, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The Israeli government contends that it has legitimate claim to the territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and some Zionists believe that characterizing such territories as "occupied" validates Palestine's opposition to Israeli settlements there.

CNN described the phrase "occupied territories" as "controversial," though it is commonly used by the Associated Press.

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