President Barack Obama, on his first trip to Israel as president, struck a cord of confusion with the people in Israel on Thursday when he ascribed peaceful intentions to Israel's adversary, the Palestinian Authority, the administrative arm of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a terror group founded in 1964 by the Arab League, with the purpose of total war against the state of Israel.
Yet President Obama, speaking on Thursday at the Jerusalem convention center, declared, "While I know you have had differences with the Palestinian Authority, I genuinely believe that you do have a true partner in President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. I believe that. And they have a track record to prove it."
Israelis wonder what "track record" the visiting U.S. president was referring to.
Neither Abbas or Fayyad, maintain a track record of peace, in terms of the consistent message of war which they convey almost every day, to their own people through their own Arabic language media outlets.
For Israel, the basis of the peace process rested on the idea that the Palestinian Authority, led by Abbas and Fayyad, would fight Hamas.
Hamas, responsible for the cold blooded murder of more than 1,000 Israeli citizens, and in complete control of Gaza, has launched more than 29,000 aerial attacks on southern Israel in 10 years, according to security officials in Sderot, an Israeli city that lies just north of Gaza.
Only this week, Abbas appeared on the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation and bestowed official honors on a Hamas woman leader who was the mother of an Arab terrorist, who killed five Jewish divinty students in cold blood 10 years ago. She spent the last 10 years conducting public speeches in honor of her son's act of murder.
In Abbas's New Year's message this year to the Palestinian people, delivered on Jan. 4 on a wide screen to throngs of Palestinians in Gaza, Abbas praised a litany of late Palestinian terrorists. Abbas described every one of them as "venerable martyrs"; including the praise that Abbas heaped on Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Palestinian Islamic Jihad founder Fathi Shikaki and George Habash, founder of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
"We must remember the pioneers, the Grand Mufti of Palestine Hajj Muhammad Amin Al-Husseini as well as Ahmad Al-Shukeiri, the founder of the PLO," Abbas went on to say, invoking the legacy of Al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, the ally of Adolf Hitler who instigated attacks against Jews and later helped organize a Muslim SS division and was complicit in the mass murder of Jews during World War II.
Were declarations like this from Abbas out of character? Hardly. Our news agency and research center has covered the Palestinian Authority and its official media outlets since the inception of the PA in 1994. There has yet to be even one statement of peace and reconciliation on the Arabic language airwaves of the Voice of Palestine, the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, since the PA was founded.
One of Obama's many Middle East advisors ought to tell that to the president.
David Bedein is the director of the Center for Near East Policy Research in Israel.