A clip of a Jordanian cleric ruling earlier this year that it is not permissible under Islamic law to kill Jews in Palestine is circulating widely on Arabic social media amid the ongoing surge in Palestinian stabbing attacks on Jews, the MEMRI watchdog group said Monday.

In the clip, which MEMRI said was first posted on the internet in February, Amman-based cleric Abdullah el-Alawneh is asked whether killing Jews in Palestine is always permitted. “Someone who provides you with protection, electricity and water, who transfers you money. And you work for him, taking his money. And then you kill him?!” he responds in horror. “Even if he is a Jew!”

Killing a Jew “is permissible during a declared war,” el-Alawneh elaborates, “but if you both pledge for the safety of one another, you are not allowed to betray and kill him.”

The cleric cites shari’a law agreements “that protect people’s rights and lives,” to underpin his ruling, and acknowledges, “The emotional perspective is one thing and the scholarly perspective is another.”

His questioner then wonders, even if killing civilians is not allowed, “what about soldiers who walk down the streets with guns?”

“The answer is the same,” el-Alawneh responds. “Let me ask you a question: Does this man who walks down the street with a gun kill every Muslim he sees?” The question is rhetorical. He spreads his arms.

Next, the questioner asks: “Sheikh, is it true that (the Jews) do not attack you if you do not attack them?”

“I haven’t lived in Palestine but this is what the brothers tell me,” he says. “Our brothers in Palestine tell us that the Jews do not attack anyone who does not attack them.”

He declares: “Nobody should think that by saying this I am defending the accursed Jews. But this is the reality. If they killed any Muslim they saw, nobody would be left in Palestine. All the people would leave Palestine. They would flee to other countries. But all the people there stay put — in the 1967 territories, the 1948 territories, and Jerusalem. They remain there, with the Jews around them with their weapons.”

“You see (the Palestinians) killing (the Jews), who only kill (Palestinians) when attacked,” he concludes. “But like I said before (the Jews) only do this out of wickedness and heresy. They have principles. They want to be able to say: ‘We are better than the Muslims, who kill us unprovoked. We don’t do that.”