There was only one remarkable moment in the otherwise formulaic remarks to the press Wednesday by President Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: a claim by Abbas so audacious and dishonest that he may have damaged his credibility with the president:
"Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children and grandchildren, in a culture of peace."
President Trump has not spoken in great detail about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, but he has stated on several occasions his belief that a major source of the conflict is the Palestinian practice of not raising their children and grandchildren in a culture of peace. In his campaign speech to AIPAC, for example, Trump said:
"In Palestinian textbooks and mosques, you've got a culture of hatred that has been fomenting there for years. And if we want to achieve peace, they've got to go out and they've got to start this educational process. They have to end education of hatred."
On Wednesday, Abbas could have pledged to work with the president to address his concerns, or said he was determined to demonstrate that the PA would reform—but instead he denied that any such concerns are legitimate or true. He gaslighted the president. No work to be done on this issue, apparently—the PA is already teaching peace to the children. Please forget all those videos you've seen of Palestinian kindergarteners declaring their greatest ambition in life is to stab a Jew.
Abbas's lie is easy to debunk. All that's needed is a visit to Palestinian Media Watch, a website that documents the glorification of terror and bloodshed in official Palestinian media and by Abbas's Fatah Party, the PA, and the PLO—supposedly, we are told over and over again by western journalists, the moderate wing of the Palestinians.
In the final two weeks of April alone—a time, given its proximity to Abbas's White House visit, when one might think the PA's rejection of Israel's right to exist, celebration of terrorism, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories would be downplayed — the PA and Fatah have:
- Held an event honoring a suicide bomber;
- Described terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians as "symbols of our legitimate national struggle and the conscience of the Palestinian people";
- Promoted the dangerously false charge that Israel is threatening Islamic holy sites ("Judaization attacks" and "invasions of the Al-Aqsa Mosque");
- Honored a terrorist who shot six Israelis to death at a bat mitzvah in 2002;
- Referred to Israel repeatedly, on official PA TV news, in PA newspapers and social media, and by the PA's Grand Mufti, as "the areas occupied since 1948";
- Held a rally of schoolchildren glorifying terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails;
- Incited violence by claiming that "hundreds of extremist settlers" were "invading and desecrating" the Al-Aqsa Mosque;
- Held a rally at a high school celebrating a terrorist who murdered an Israeli teenager.
I could go on. That is not actually two weeks of official PA incitement, but merely 10 days' worth in late April.
President Trump has now set himself on a path to prove for himself whether a peace deal with Abbas is possible. The lie Abbas told him to his face—"Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children and grandchildren, in a culture of peace"—was also a moment of truth. It told the president almost everything he needs to know about the task that lies before him, and about the man he is relying on as his partner.