US presidential candidate Senator John McCain on Wednesday jumped on the Bush Administration bandwagon by telling his Israeli hosts that he agrees the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip poses a real problem for peace in the region, while insisting that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is a viable peace partner who deserves Israel's and America's trust.
Meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, McCain and traveling companions senators Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham said they shared Israel's concern over the ongoing violence in and emanating from Gaza.
"If Hamas succeeds here, they are going to succeed everywhere, not only in the Middle East, but everywhere. Israel isn't the only enemy," McCain was cited by The Jerusalem Post as saying. Lieberman added that the US remains as dedicated as Israel to defeating Hamas and other Islamic terror groups in the region.
However, Mr. McCain seemed to disagree with Livni's assertion that it is impossible for Israel to conclude a final status peace deal with the Palestinian Authority until Hamas is defeated and Gaza is brought under control.
"I believe that [Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud] Abbas wants to advance the diplomatic process and does not support what is taking place in the Gaza Strip," Ynet quoted the Arizona senator as telling Livni.
Mr. McCain failed to address Abbas' lack of authority over Palestinians, which last year manifested itself in his government's ouster from Gaza in a swift and bloody coup by a Hamas forces far outnumbered by Abbas' own troops.
Earlier this month, McCain's colleagues in the House of Representatives also called into question Abbas' commitment to ending terrorism and terrorist incitement against Israel's Jews.
A House Appropriations subcommittee proceeded to freeze the transfer of $150 million in economic aid to the Abbas government over concerns that official media controlled by the Palestinian leader was continuing to glorify deceased terrorists and demonize the Jews.
Just over a week later, a leading Palestinian newspaper directly funded and controlled by the Abbas regime carried front page headlines praising an Israeli Arab terrorist who had massacred eight young Jewish bible students in Jerusalem.