Herman Cain Wasn't Able On Palestinian Right Of Return Question

May 23, 2011

Remember when Sarah Palin got stumped look when then-ABC News anchor Charlie Gibson asked her in September 2008 if she believed in the Bush doctrine?

On Fox News Sunday with host Chris Wallace, Herman Cain, the former head of Godfather's Pizza who's running for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, got that look, too.

It happened during a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Wallace asked Cain what his position was on the "right of return."

(The exchange starts at 10:05.)

WALLACE: Where do you stand on the right of return?

CAIN: The right of return? (Pause) The right of return? (Pause)

WALLACE: The Palestinian right of return.

CAIN: That is something that should be negotiated. That is something that should be negotiated.

Pro that he is, Wallace restated the question, spelling out precisely what he was asking to make sure there was no confusion.

WALLACE: Do you think the Palestinian refugees, the people who were kicked out of the land in 1948, should be able or should have any right to return to Israeli land?

CAIN: Yes. But under — but not under Palestinian conditions. Yes. They should have a right to come back if that is a decision that Israel wants to make.

Back to — it's up to Israel to determine the things they will accept. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it real clear in his statement following the statement that President Obama made. They are wiling to make some concessions. They are willing to give on a lot of things. They are willing to be compassionate.

Actually, Netanyahu, like many Israeli Jews, is fairly strongly opposed to the Palestinian "right of return," the idea that those Palestinians who lost land in 1948 and during subsequent hostilities could return to land within Israel's borders.

It its most expansive version, that would mean nearly five million Palestinian refugees and descendants returning to land within Israel's borders.

Because Israel only has a total population of about 7.4 million, the right of return for many Israeli Jews is viewed as an existential threat that would spell the end of the Jewish State. So it's a non-starter.

In other words, those millions of Palestinian refugees arguably have about as much chance of taking up residence in the land of their ancestors as Cain has of being president. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.