PA minister equates negotiations to medieval pact
made to be broken
by Elhanan Miller
Mahmoud Habbash, in sermon attended by Abbas, echoes notorious comments made by Arafat in 1994
A Palestinian minister likened negotiations with Israel to a medieval agreement signed between the Prophet Muhammad and his political rivals in Mecca, which he violated two years after signing, Palestinian Media Watch revealed on Monday.
During last Friday’s sermon — attended by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and broadcast on national Palestinian television — Religious Endowments Minister Mahmoud al-Habbash blasted “Hamas’s impulsive adventure,” praising the leadership wisdom of the PLO that led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority and the international recognition of Palestinian statehood.
Habbash then compared the decision of the PA leadership to negotiate with Israel to the agreement of the Prophet Muhammad on a 10-year truce with his rivals in the Quraish tribe of Mecca, known as the Treaty of Hudaibiya, reached in the year 628 CE.
“The hearts of the Prophet’s companions burnt with anger and fury … this is not disobedience [of God's command], it is politics. It is crisis management, conflict management … in less than two years, based on this treaty, the Prophet returned and conquered Mecca. This is the example. It is the model.”
Habbash’s sermon mirrored the incendiary historical comparison by deceased PA president Yasser Arafat in a Johannesburg mosque on May 10, 1994, where he compared the Oslo Accords to Hudaibiya.
“This agreement, I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our prophet Muhammad and Quraish,” Arafat told his audience, unaware that his speech was being recorded.
Habbash’s statements reflected a predominant atmosphere of skepticism within the Palestinian leadership towards renewed talks with Israel. Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh and PLO Executive Council Secretary Yasser Abed Rabbo have both claimed in recent days that no Palestinian decision has yet been taken to resume negotiations.
On Monday, Fatah official and veteran negotiator Nabil Shaath joined the two, telling Ma’an news agency that even preliminary talks in Washington depend on the Americans fulfilling a Palestinian demand, which he refused to specify.
“If the Americans agree, we will move to the next step, which is preliminary negotiations in Washington to explore the rules and terms of reference,” Shaath told Ma’an.