Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich - AFP - December 10, 2011
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) attacks former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich during the ABC News GOP Presidential debate on the campus of Drake University on December 10, 2011. Photo by AFP
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A senior Arab League official has condemned Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich's statement that the Palestinians are an "invented" people.

The League official handling Palestinian affairs, Mohammed Sobeih, says Gingrich's statement was "irresponsible and dangerous."

Sobeih told reporters at the League's Cairo headquarters Sunday that Gingrich is sacrificing U.S.¬ interests for votes, and that the comments run counter to democratic values and international agreements.

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich on Saturday defended his statement that the Palestinians are an "invented" people, brushing aside criticism that he had unnecessarily made the Mideast peace process more difficult.

"Is what I said factually true? Yes," Gingrich said during a candidate debate in which he drew applause for asserting that it was time someone spoke the truth about the nature of Israel's struggle with the Palestinians.

In footage released Friday, the former House speaker told the Jewish Channel, a U.S. cable TV network, that the Palestinians were an "invented people."

"Remember, there was no Palestine as a state - (it was) part of the Ottoman Empire. I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and historically part of the Arab community and they had the chance to go many places," Gingrich said according to a video excerpt posted online.