Did Biden just ban Mahmoud Abbas from visiting the US?

Will Biden’s pledge to ban violent ‘extremists’ in Judea and Samaria from visiting the US also apply to the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas?

By Moshe Phillips

President Joe Biden has announced that he will issue “visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank.” If he means what he says, the first person the president will have to ban is Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

In a November 18 Washington Post op-ed, President Biden called for creation of a Palestinian Arab state, and also announced his intention to ban “extremists attacking civilians.”

He made it clear that he was referring to “violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.” (He meant the handful of recent disputes between Jewish Israeli and Palestinian Arab farmers.)

But you can’t target only those who carry out “extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank,” because many Jews live in that region, too. In order to be fair, the United States must have a policy that applies to any extremist who attacks anybody, Arab or Jew.

Hence the principle that Biden articulated: “The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank.”

And that’s where Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the PA, comes in.

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If there is one person who is more responsible than any other for sponsoring “extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank,” it’s the chairman of the Palestinian Authority.

The PA constantly exhorts the Arab masses to attack Jews.

For example, on October 21, the head of the Nablus (Shechem) branch of Fatah—which is the largest faction of the PA and happens to also be chaired by Abbas—announced, “We are united and aiming our bullets at the occupier and at the settlers.”

And on October 23, the Bethlehem and Tulkarem branches of Fatah issued a proclamation to “Sons of the West Bank,” urging, “Call out ‘Allahu Akbar,’ this is a call of mobilization to all those who have a weapon; shame and disgrace on everyone who abandons the struggle.”

(Thank you to Palestinian Media Watch for the translations.)

The PA’s news media and schools glorify “extremists who attack Jewish civilians.”

On October 10, official PA Television broadcast a declaration by the head of the Tulkarem branch of Fatah, calling the October 7th pogrom “a source of pride, heroism, and honor for the Palestinian people.

The PA pays salaries to Palestinian Arab “extremists who attack Jewish civilians,” and pays monetary rewards to their families.

The PA shelters “extremists who attack civilians,” and has refused Israel’s dozens of requests to extradite them.

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The PA’s security forces frequently hire “extremists who attack civilians.” On August 6, 2023, the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture posted on its Facebook page the names and photos of 30 members of the PA security forces whom it considers “Martyrs” because they died while carrying out terrorist attacks.

The PA names schools, streets, and parks after “extremists who attack Jewish civilians,” so that the Palestinian Arab public will view them as heroes who deserve to be praised and honored.

The PA runs hundreds of summer camps where young Arabs are given military training and perform skits about kidnapping Israelis.

This past summer, Fatah Central Committee secretary Jibril Rajoub boasted on his Facebook page that the PA ran 648 such camps, in which 65,000 boys and girls took part.

PA Television reported on July 16 that the camps “bear the names of Martyrs” who “watered the land of the homeland with [their] blood, for freedom and liberation from the occupation.”

The PA uses its network of salaried imams in mosques to spread a message of encouraging “extremists who attack civilians.”

On October 18, the PA’s Ministry of Religious Affairs issued a directive to all mosques in its territories to include in their Friday sermons the Islamist teaching that redemption “will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.”

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So if PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas was thinking about coming to the United States any time soon, he can forget about it—that is, if President Biden really means what he says.

Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs whose writings appear regularly in the American and Israeli press.