A group of French imams toured the northern West Bank Thursday on the invitation of settler leaders. One of them, Hassen Chalghoumi, said support of boycotts of Israel ran against Quranic law.
Chalghoumi, who is well-known in France for his involvement in interfaith forums and initiatives, has received many death threats for his friendly ties with CRIF, the umbrella group representing French Jewish communities, and for visiting Israel several times.
This week he was part of a delegation of over 40 Muslim leaders hosted by the Samaria Regional Council. The visit was organized by The European Leadership Network (ELNET), an organization that seeks to strengthen Israeli-European ties.
Chalghoumi said he hopes to encourage dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians so “no mother — not Israeli nor Palestinian — will cry” in the future.
He also criticized Palestinian rejection of an upcoming US-led peace conference in Bahrain. “I don’t think that’s right. You should always go and talk, sit around the same table. Even if you don’t agree — dialogue can save us.”
Sheikh Abu-Khalil Tamimi of Ramallah also attended the meeting, saying “any problem can be solved with negotiations, dialogue and good treatment of each other. Disseminating hate is no the way…With God’s help the future will be better for us and for our children.”
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said he was glad of the opportunity to meet the religious leaders: “We do not believe in peace on paper and with out-of-touch politicians but by creating mutual respect and relationships from the ground up.”
Chalghoumi is something of an outlier in Muslim religious discourse, and was notable for supporting France’s ban on the burqa — or full face covering.