Joe Biden and Mahmoud Abbas
Joe Biden and Mahmoud AbbasFlash90

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas visited Jenin on July 12, just days after Israel’s action against terrorists there. What a great opportunity for him to tell the people of Jenin what they needed to hear.

When Abbas arrived in Jenin, he was greeted by PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh and other officials. Abbas could have set the proper tone for his visit right then and there.

—What Abbas should have said: “Prime Minister Shtayyeh, I was deeply disappointed that you recently praised the murderers of Mrs. Lucy Dee, and her daughters Maia and Rina, as ‘martyrs’ who have ‘ascended to Heaven’ and that you declared, ‘Glory and eternity to our righteous Martyrs.’ And I deeply regret that the official PA news agency WAFA and the official PA daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, publicized your outrageous remark. We need to fulfill our obligations in the Oslo accords to refrain from praising terrorists. Publicly praising terrorists helped inspire other young Arabs to become terrorists, which led to the terrible situation in Jenin. Therefore, I insist that you publicly retract your remarks, or resign.”

—What Abbas actually said: Nothing. He made no public remarks at that point.

Abbas then visited the graves of twelve local terrorists who were killed while trying to murder Israelis in Jenin last week.

—What Abbas should have said: “These young men should not be dead. That did not have to be their fate. They could have been raised to cherish peace and coexistence. Instead, they were raised to hate and kill. I deeply regret that under my leadership, the Palestinian Authority constantly encouraged them to murder Jews, by praising and paying killers. Their violence was morally abhorrent, and Palestinian Arab society must reject what they did.”

—What Abbas actually said: He praised the terrorists as “martyrs” and placed a wreath on their graves. In other words, he treated them as heroes and held them up to the people of Jenin as men whose behavior should be admired and emulated.

Next, Abbas addressed a crowd of several hundred Jenin residents.

—What Abbas should have said: “Jenin needs to become a symbol of peace and brotherhood. Jenin needs to uphold the values of nonviolence and cooperation with our Jewish neighbors.”

—What Abbas actually said: “Jenin is an icon of struggle, steadfastness and challenge.” In other words, he perpetuated the city’s self-image as a center of anti-Israel violence.

Abbas then turned to the question of what policies the PA will pursue going forward.

—What Abbas should have said: “We must recognize the need for flexibility and compromise, instead of always demanding every inch of everything. And we must stop calling the Israelis ‘aggressors’ for taking the kind of anti-terrorism actions that we ourselves have failed to take.”

—What Abbas actually said: “We will remain steadfast in our land, we will not leave, we will not accept aggression from anyone, and we will remain patient.” In other words, nothing will change—the PA will continue to take the most extreme and stubborn positions, and it will wait patiently until the international community follows along.

Finally, Abbas turned to the question of the PA’s overall goals. It was another golden opportunity to promote peace and nonviolence.

—What Abbas should have said: “Everyone must work for genuine peace. We must stop aspiring to ‘liberate’ all of Israel and conquer Jerusalem. We already have free access to our religious sites in Jerusalem and should be satisfied with that. Throughout history, Jerusalem was never an Arab capital and there is no reason to demand that it become one now.”

—What Abbas actually said: “Everyone works for unity and strengthening the steadfastness of our people on their land until we liberate our entire homeland and build our independent state with Jerusalem as its capital so that this homeland will be open to all, and the 14 million Palestinians will return to it.”

To the Palestinian Arab leadership, “entire homeland” means all of Israel, not just Judea-Samaria. Look at the maps of “Palestine” that appear in the PA’s office, media, and schools. To them, Tel Aviv is “Palestine.” Haifa is “Palestine.”

And that reference to “14 million Palestinians” ? A reaffirmation of the PA’s long-declared strategy to swamp Israel with so many Arab immigrants that the Arabs will have a majority and can turn it into “Palestine.” In other words, destruction by demography.

Mahmoud Abbas could have used his visit to Jenin as the first step on the road to peace. Instead, he recommitted himself and his people to war against the Jews.

And that’s why Israel will have no choice but to send its soldiers into Jenin and other PA cities, again and again, every time terrorists raise their heads.

Stephen M. Flatow is President-elect of the Religious Zionists of America. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995 and the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.