In a fiery speech broadcast live on Palestinian television Monday, the Palestinian minister for religious affairs called for Muslims to flock to Jerusalem to fight a holy war, or jihad. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sat front and center in the audience and joined others in applauding his minister’s speech, according to video released by a watchdog organization.
In the video, which has been translated by Palestinian Media Watch, Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash said jihadi fighters from around the world heading to Syria are going to the wrong battlefield. Instead, they should travel to Jerusalem.
"Whoever wants resistance, whoever wants jihad, the direction for jihad is well-known and clear,” Habbash said. “Those who send young people to Syria or elsewhere to die for a misdirected cause must stop and understand that Jerusalem is still waiting. Jerusalem is the direction, Jerusalem is the address."
“I don't think that there is anyone who doesn't know where jihad is supposed to take place. I don't think that there is anyone who doesn't know to where we should direct efforts or where to concentrate the masses,” Habbash said.
“Put an end to your ignorance, and recognize that you [those fighting in Syria] are nothing more than small tools in a game [controlled by] malicious hands that are running a filthy game to crush the Ummah (Islamic Nation) and diminish it, and deflect the compass away from its true direction,” Habbash said according to Palestinian Media Watch’s translation.
The camera then cuts to Abbas, who is shown applauding.
Though he was clapping in response to the incendiary words, the Palestinian president is currently engaged in negotiations with Israel over a possible peace framework proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry.
On Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon was quoted by an Israeli newspaper blasting both Kerry and Abbas for expecting that Israel make all the concessions.
In a speech over the weekend, Abbas voiced a hardline position on key negotiating issues, insisting that Palestinian refugees and their descendants have a “right” to move to the land on which the State of Israel sits and that he would not agree to any peace deal that does not include east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
Palestinian Media Watch is a research organization that monitors anti-Israel incitement in official Palestinian media outlets.
Here is the video of the minister's speech, with Abbas' clapping highlighted by PMW: