Top PA imam: Moving US embassy to Jerusalem a ‘declaration of war’ on Islam
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Top PA imam: Moving US embassy to Jerusalem a ‘declaration of war’ on Islam

'In matters of religion, faith, values, ethics, and history, there can be no compromises,' warns Mahmoud al-Habbash

Dr. Mahmoud Habbash, Supreme Sharia Judge in the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s advisor on religious and Islamic affairs. (Courtesy)
Dr. Mahmoud Habbash, Supreme Sharia Judge in the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s advisor on religious and Islamic affairs. (Courtesy)

If the incoming US administration of President-elect Donald J Trump fulfills its campaign promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, it would be considered “a declaration of war” on all Muslims, the Palestinian Authority’s supreme Sharia judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash declared on Friday.

“The new American administration intends to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem. In a simple, calm, and rational manner, in clear words that need no explanation and which are unambiguous: Such a step, for every Muslim, is a declaration of war on all Muslims,” said Habbash in a Friday sermon broadcast on official PA TV, and attended by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

The speech was translated by an Israeli watchdog of Palestinian media, Palestinian Media Watch.

Habbash, who is also a top aid to Abbas, added, “We are no one’s enemies, and we do not want to be. We are not enemies of the US and we do not want to be. However, when something harms our faith and our existence, we cannot stand by and do nothing.”

He continued: “Occupied Jerusalem is our eternal capital, the capital of our existence and the capital of our state. In politics, there can be compromises here and there… In politics there can be negotiation. However, in matters of religion, faith, values, ethics, and history, there can be no compromises.”

Trump and his team have spoken repeatedly of his intention to relocate the embassy to Israel’s capital, leading to wall-to-wall condemnations from Palestinian leaders, and even a warning from outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry.

On Friday, in an interview with CBS News, Kerry said that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would cause “an explosion, an absolute explosion in the region, not just in the West Bank, and perhaps even in Israel itself, but throughout the region.”

The Jordanian government issued a similar warning on Thursday, with Jordanian Information Minister Mohamed Momani saying an embassy move would be a “red line” for Jordan, would “inflame the Islamic and Arab streets” and would serve as a “gift to extremists.”

On Friday, Abbas warned Trump not to move the embassy.

He invited Trump to visit the Palestinian territories, but also said: “We call on you not to implement your statement… because we consider it as an aggressive statement, when you say you want to move the embassy to Jerusalem.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures after delivering a speech, on the second day of the 7th Fatah Congress in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on November 30, 2016. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures after delivering a speech, on the second day of the 7th Fatah Congress in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on November 30, 2016. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their intended capital. An American decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would signal US acceptance of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The status of Jerusalem is one of the core issues that would need to be resolved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on Palestinian statehood.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem and the Old City after capturing the areas in the 1967 war. The UN Security Council last month branded all such land as occupied Palestinian territory — a designation furiously rejected by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who ridiculed the notion that the Temple Mount and Western Wall could be defined as not part of Israel. The US abstained in the vote, allowing the resolution to pass, which infuriated Israel, and drew criticism from Trump.

Donald Trump speaking during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York, November 9, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON)
Donald Trump speaking during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York, November 9, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON)

Palestinian negotiator Erekat said last month that he will resign, the peace process will be over for ever, the PLO will revoke its recognition of Israel and the US will be forced by Arab public opinion to close all its embassies in the Arab world, if the Trump administration moves the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on December 12 that moving the embassy “is a very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump.” Conway told radio host Hugh Hewitt in a lengthy interview: “He made it very clear during the campaign, and as president-elect, I’ve heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly.”

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