As Secretary of State John Kerry pushes full steam ahead to try to bring the Israelis and Palestinian back to the negotiation table, a new video is casting doubt regarding true Palestinian intentions and tactics. Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash in an on-camera sermon on Friday hinted any peace deal secured would secretly be only a short-term arrangement by comparing it to a truce the Muslim prophet Mohammed negotiated but broke two years later.
This is just the latest example of Palestinian leaders discussing their stepwise plan to liberate Palestine from the "river to the sea," starting with the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.
Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash delivers sermon at Friday Ramadan prayers (Screenshot: Palestinian Television)
At the Friday Ramadan services, which were attended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and broadcast on Palestinian television, Habbash explained to Muslim worshipers that Palestinian Authority officials "only through the wisdom of the leadership, conscious action, consideration, and walking the right path" are headed toward "achievement, exactly like the Prophet [Mohammad] did in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, even though some opposed it."
Palestinian Media Watch - an Israeli research institution that translates anti-Israel broadcasts in the Palestinian media - explains that the Hudaybiyyah peace treaty of 628 A.D. refers to "a 10-year truce that Mohammad, Islam's Prophet, made with the Quraish Tribe of Mecca. However, two years into the truce, Mohammad attacked and conquered Mecca."
The Religious Affairs Minister emphasized that Mohammed's choosing the path of negotiation with an enemy was not "disobedience" to Allah, but was rather "politics" and "crisis management."
Indeed, he broke the peace treaty two years later and conquered Mecca.
The Palestinian minister called Mohammed's example "the model" to be followed.
According to a transcript provided by Palestinian Media Watch, Habbash explained how Mohammed's followers who weren't enlightened as to his true intentions were upset. "The hearts of the Prophet's companions burned with anger and fury. The Prophet said: 'I'm the Messenger of Allah and I will not disobey Him.' This is not disobedience, it is politics. This is crisis management, situation management, conflict management," Habbash said, adding, "Allah called this treaty a clear victory."
In his sermon, Habbash made a distinction between the Palestinian Authority strategy and Hamas which rules Gaza, saying "All this never would have happened through Hamas' impulsive adventure." In his speech, he insisted that "We hate war. We don't want war. We don't want bloodshed, not for ourselves, nor for others. We want peace."
The Palestinian Authority has been insisting to Kerry that it will only negotiate on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, which means it refuses to agree to anything less than a full Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and east Jerusalem, including the Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount which is the holiest site in the Jewish religion. Some Israeli officials refer to those borders as "Auschwitz borders," because it would leave Israel only nine miles wide at its narrowest point.
If Palestinian officials say this is just a stepping stone, the suggestion is that the true goal is to take over all of the land of Israel as part of a future Palestinian state. Note the Palestinian Authority is considered by the U.S. and Europe to be the more moderate Palestinian leadership, as opposed to the Islamist Hamas which states openly that its goal is to destroy the State of Israel.
PMW writes, "Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, there have been senior PA officials who have presented the peace process with Israel as a deceptive tactic that both facilitated the PA's five-year terror campaign against Israel (the Intifada), and which will weaken Israel through territorial compromise that will eventually lead to Israel's destruction."
In an article discussing Friday's sermon, Palestinian Media Watch provided past quotes from Palestinian officials touting the same piecemeal peace negotiations tactic.
In 1994, Arafat also compared the Olso Accords to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah saying, "This agreement [the Oslo Accords], I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our Prophet Mohammad and Quraish..."
Arafat was speaking at a mosque in Johannesburg and did not know that he was being recorded on audiotape.
Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki in 2011 tried to calm critics of the peace agreement with Israel, explaining, "the President [Mahmoud Abbas] understands, we understand, and everyone knows that it is impossible to realize the inspiring idea, or the great goal in one stroke."
"If I say that I want to remove it [Israel] from existence, this will be great, great, [but] it is hard. This is not a [stated] policy. You can't say it to the world. You can say it to yourself," Zaki told Al Jazeera.
Palestinian Authority Representative for Jerusalem Affairs Faisal Husseini said in 2001, "This effort [the Intifada] could have been much better, broader, and more significant had we made it clearer to ourselves that the Oslo agreement, or any other agreement, is just a temporary procedure, or just a step towards something bigger."
"We distinguish the strategic, long-term goals from the political staged goals, which we are compelled to temporarily accept due to international pressure. ... [Palestine] according to the higher strategy [is]: 'from the river to the sea.' Palestine in its entirety is an Arab land, the land of the Arab nation," Husseini added.
Here is the video of Habbash's Friday sermon excerpted and translated by Palestinian Media Watch: