GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich stirred up plenty of controversy last week when he called Palestinians an “invented people” in an interview from the campaign trail.

“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 told the Jewish Channel last week.

All of which makes the above 1993 photo of Gingrich, then House Minority Whip, embracing the late Palestinian Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat, published by the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein, perhaps noteworthy. Stein, who received the photo from a longtime political operative involved in Middle East issues, writes:

On Monday, a political operative who has been working on Palestine-Israel policy for the past 20 years sent The Huffington Post a picture of Gingrich, then the House minority whip, grasping the hand of longtime Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat immediately following the September 1993 Oslo peace accords.

The embrace, the source said, came after Arafat met with 20 to 25 House leaders over coffee. Jotting notes down in a yellow pad, Gingrich used the meeting to pitch Arafat on how best to actually construct a Palestinian state. “He said, ‘Look, here is what I think you need — an economic plan — and here is how it will work,’ ” the operative recalled. “It was a very positive contribution at the time and as they stood up, there were pictures.” ….

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