The Palestinian Authority and its allies long have insisted that the conflict in the Middle East boils down to a dispute over land.
If Israel would be willing to give up certain land and accept particular demands, peace could be achieved at last.
But a top adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear that Islam and its objective to establish the rule of Shariah, not only in the region but over the entire world, is at the heart of the matter.
Mahmoud Al-Habbash, regarded at the PA’s most important religious figure, said the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is not a political conflict but a “battle” between Islam and “the culture of Satan.”
Robert Spencer, the author of the newly published “The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS,” writes on his Jihad Watch blog that history shows the “enemies of Islam” are non-Muslims “who refuse to accept the hegemony of Sharia and the second-class status that acceptance would entail for them.”
The Quran teaches in 9:29, points out Spencer, that non-Muslims must be warred against and subjugated.
“Those who think that the Israeli/”Palestinian” conflict will be solved through negotiations should heed the words of Mahmoud Al-Habbash,” Spencer said. “But they won’t.”
Palestinian Media Watch, which provided a translation of Habbash’s statement on video, said the cleric “continues to tell Palestinians that the conflict with Israel is an uncompromising religious war for Islam against Israel and Jews.”
Appointed by Abbas as his personal adviser on Islam and the PA’s supreme Shariah judge, Habbash spoke of “the battle of history between Islam and the enemies of Islam.”
Israelis and Jews are the “enemies of Islam,” “enemies of Muslims,” have a “culture of Satan” and represent “evil,” he said.
Moreover, he said the current battle is not just another battle on behalf of Islam but the ultimate battle described in the Quran as the “final promise,” leading to the destruction of the “children of Israel.”
PMW pointed out Habbash is preaching to a religious Palestinian population, with polls consistently finding that 95 percent of Palestinians say religion is “important” for them.
“Jerusalem is the arena of conflict between us and the colonialist project (Israel),” the cleric said.
“Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque apparently is the heading for the eruption of the conflict and the battle of history between Islam and the enemies of Islam; between the Muslims and the enemies of Muslims; between the Islamic culture in all its splendor and human glory and the culture of Satan attempting to establish oppression and aggression at the expense of the culture of truth and goodness,” Habbash said.
He asserted the mosque is “decreed to be the arena of the battle between good and evil.”
“This mosque and this wonderful city – the city of history, religion and culture, Jerusalem – are decreed to be the heading of the conflict,” he said.
He said he and man others see Jerusalem “as the first step, as the spark of the battle of the ‘final promise.'”
PMW noted that the “final promise” is mentioned in the Quran in Sura 17 where Allah addresses the Jews as “the children of Israel.”
Some interpret the “final promise” as a battle that took place in the past. But Habbash said he and others see it as a future conflict in which Jews experience “[total] destruction.”
The battle with Israel today over Jerusalem, the cleric said, is “the spark of the battle,” meaning, the beginning of the war of destruction.”