Death fatwa?

(CNN) — Senior Palestinian leaders on Saturday strongly criticized comments by Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich that the Palestinians are an “invented” people, calling them ignorant and racist.

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the Gingrich remark was “the most racist statement I’ve ever seen.”

Erakat, who has negotiated in talks with Israel and the United States, said the remarks show “how really despicable things can get” in American politics.

“Such thinking should be an alarm and concern for the world,” Erakat said.

Gingrich made the comments in an interview that aired Friday with The Jewish Channel, a U.S. cable channel.

“I believe that the Jewish people have the right to have a state,” Gingrich said in the interview. “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, who are historically part of the Arab community.”

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