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AP on PA Mufti's hate speech, exposed by PMW
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Israel condemns Palestinian cleric over sermon

by Diaa Hadid

The Palestinians' top Muslim cleric faced sharp Israeli criticism Sunday for a speech in which he quoted a religious text that includes passages about killing Jews in an end-of-days struggle.

Mufti Mohammed Hussein's comments came at a political gathering of supporters of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He said his remarks were taken out of context and that he didn't incite people to kill Jews. But by speaking at the venue, Hussein appeared to be linking the battle to the conflict with Israel.

"The hour of resurrection will not come until you fight the Jews," Hussein told the gathering, citing a hadith, or saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. "The Jews will hide behind stones and trees. But the trees and the stones will call: oh Muslim, oh servant of God, there is a Jew hiding behind me so come and kill him." ...

The mufti delivered his three-minute speech on Jan. 7 in an Arab neighborhood of east Jerusalem during celebrations of the 47th anniversary of the Palestinian movement Fatah, said Itamar Marcus of Palestine Media Watch, an Israeli watchdog group that tracks incitement.

Marcus' group posted excerpts of the speech on YouTube last week. The comments drew angry reactions from Israelis on Sunday.

"We're talking about a heinous offense that all nations of the world must condemn," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement sent to reporters by text message. He asked the Israeli attorney general to launch an investigation.

It is unclear what authority Israel would have since Hussein is appointed to his position by the Palestinian president. There was no immediate comment from Abbas' office.

Hussein, who is based in Jerusalem, said his comments were taken out of context.

"I was speaking about the final signs of the day of resurrection," Hussein said. "I did not incite, and I did not call for killing. We are not, at present, at the end of days."

The Quran, Islam's holy book, offers contradictory attitudes toward Jews and Christians. There are texts that enshrine tolerance and respect for other faiths, while others are spiked with hatred and incitement. ...