25 Years After Oslo: The Elephant in the Room
Is it possible for Muslim Palestinians to make peace with Israel?
Author's note: I have been a student of Islam for five+ years because I wanted to know what motivates so called “Islamist” or “Radical” Muslims against Jews, Israel and the West. I now understand. The short article below sets out the argument why “Land For Peace” is simply impossible under Islam, owing to Koran Sura 2, Verse 191 — and it is for this reason (and Western and Israeli diplomats and negotiators’ ignorance of it) that it has been, is, and will be impossible for Muslim Palestinians to make peace with Israel. This Palestinian position has been confirmed by the top Palestinian religious figures, who have corroborated that ALL of Palestine is a holy, Islamic waqf (Arabic: an inalienable religious endowment under Islamic Shariah law), and therefore it is prohibited to give up “even a millimeter” of it. The article has been vetted and approved for accuracy by a number of Islamic experts.
It is now more than 25 years since the Oslo Accords were signed in October 1993. Yet in the many published opinion pieces and reporting on this anniversary and the failure of the parties to agree on a final two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, nowhere is found any Israeli politician or journalist who has the slightest inkling of the massive effect of Islam in influencing and motivating the Palestinian supposed peacemakers.
Islam is indeed “The Elephant in the Room.”
The Koran, chapter 2, verse 191 states: “Drive them out from where they drove you out.”
Islamic scholars universally have interpreted this verse to mean that once land becomes Islamic, by conquest or otherwise, it stays Islamic forever and that Muslims must drive out any non-Muslim government that takes power in a land once ruled under Islamic law.
Caliph Umar conquered Jerusalem and Palestine in 637 AD, and the Land of Israel remained under Muslim rule (with the exception of the 188-year Crusader Period, 1099 – 1187 AD) until September 1923, when the British Mandate began. To Muslims, Palestine has been “Muslim land” since its conquest by Islam in 637 AD.
Moreover, this position has been corroborated and confirmed (in Arabic) by Mahmoud Al-Habbash, who is Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor on Islam and also the Supreme Shari’ah Judge of the Palestinian Authority (“PA”):
“Mahmoud Al-Habbash emphasized that according to Islamic Shari’ah law, the entire land of Palestine is waqf (i.e., an inalienable religious endowment under Islamic law) and is blessed land, and that it is prohibited to sell, bestow ownership or facilitate the occupation of even a millimeter of it.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 22, 2014, translation by Palestinian Media Watch (“PMW”)]
See also the statement below from the Palestinian Authority, translated from the original Arabic:
“Anyone who thinks that the nation has sold its Palestine or its Jerusalem is just imagining things. Anyone who thinks that a day will come when the nation will sell one inch or millimeter of the blessed and sanctified land of Palestine is just imagining things. The entire nation says what [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas said: ‘The Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, or Christian who will relinquish one inch of Jerusalem has not been born and will never be born.’”
[Official PA TV, April 20, 2018, translation PMW]
The Palestinian Authority’s current Mufti, Muhammad Hussein, has corroborated this same position:
“Palestine, that includes within it Jerusalem, is waqf land [and] it is forbidden by Shari’ah law to relinquish it or ease the transfer of ownership of it to enemies, because it is part of the Islamic public property. Granting ownership over Islamic territory or part of it to enemies is invalid and constitutes treason.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 13, 2018, translation PMW]
Please note that the Palestinian Authority reflects the same view set out in the Hamas Charter (Article Eleven):
“The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up.”
For these reasons, the exchange of Muslim “Land for Peace” with Israel simply is impossible under Islam. Has anyone in Israel ever noticed and considered this point — or are we so ignorant of Islam that it has never been properly considered and evaluated?
The Koran, chapter 2, verse 191 was once mentioned to Shimon Peres in 2015. He replied, “No. You are wrong. We made peace with Egypt. We made peace with Jordan.”
Shimon Peres was right — and wrong.
Prior to signing the Israel/Egypt Peace Treaty of March, 1979, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat held out for — and ultimately received — his stated demand to get back “every square inch” of the Sinai. This occurred notwithstanding Israel’s initial negotiating position for a continuing Israel monitoring presence at Sharm el Sheikh and the western mountains of Sinai and retention of both the Israel-developed Taba and Yamit tourist communities in the Sinai near Eilat.
After the Israel / Egypt peace treaty was signed, Sadat could turn to the Egyptian people and rightfully claim that he had recovered “every square inch” of Egyptian-administered Muslim land.
The Jordanian case is even more interesting and illuminating.
In a two-step exercise starting in June 1988, King Hussein first renounced all Jordanian claims to Judea and Samaria, the wishfully named “West Bank” of Jordan. Six years later, in October 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty.
However, there had been a serious problem: Israel occupied three areas of Jordanian land since June 1967: The tiny “Peace Island” in the middle of the Jordan River, and two agricultural fields belonging to Israeli settlements in the Arava, south of the Dead Sea.
In Annex 1A and 1B of the Peace Treaty, this matter was resolved: Israel fully recognized Jordanian sovereignty over all this land. Jordan agreed that Israel could continue to “use” the lands in the same manner as previously for a rolling 25-year period unless terminated by Jordan following a one-year notice (which Jordan gave in late October 2018).
After the signing of the peace treaty, King Hussein could turn to the Jordanian people and rightfully claim that he had recovered every square centimeter of Jordanian-administered Muslim land.
As for the land of Israel/Palestine itself located “from the River to the Sea,” the Arab League and Jordan left this to Palestinian President Yassir Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole entity to negotiate and resolve with Israel.
What did Yassir Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, do?
At the Camp David negotiations in July 2000 between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Yassir Arafat, following Israel’s offer to give up 97% of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians, Arafat stunned Barak and President Bill Clinton by never making a counteroffer. Why? Because he could not do so: the Koran (chap. 2, verse 191) did not permit it. Allah says that Muslim land can never be given to the kufaar (infidels) under penalty of death. Palestinian recognition of Israeli sovereignty over any part of Palestinian land was impossible, Muslim Palestinians never would have accepted it and Arafat would have been murdered by his own people.
After the Camp David negotiations failed, Yassir Arafat was asked by an Israeli Muslim Arab journalist in Arabic why he walked away from the negotiations. “Because the Israelis would not give us 100%!” he replied. The Koran mandated that Arafat recover all of Palestine starting with the so-called “West Bank.” He was not free to do otherwise.
It was the same story seven years later in the negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held at the Annapolis Conference in November 2007: Ehud Olmert made very generous offers to the Palestinians, delivering 97% of Judea and Samaria to them, “slicing and dicing” Jerusalem horizontally and vertically, creating a land bridge between Gaza and Judea and Samaria and even allowing some Palestinian refugees back into Israel.
However, how did Abbas respond? He also made no counteroffer. Why? Because he could not do so (Koran, chap. 2, verse 191). The Koran prohibited recognizing Israeli sovereignty over any part of Muslim Palestinian land, Muslim Palestinians would never have accepted it, and Abbas also would have been murdered by the Palestinians.
According to the Koran, the Palestinians are commanded to reclaim ALL Palestinian Muslim land “from the River to the Sea,” a holy waqf under Shariah law. The concept of Israeli-administered Muslim land (i.e. recognizing the sovereignty of the State of Israel over any part of Palestine) is impossible in Islam.
Have you ever noticed how Palestinian claims are always rooted in land-based terms? They speak of the “occupation” of their land, being “driven out” of Palestine by the Israelis in 1948, and recovering all their land “from the River to the Sea.” The Palestinian Authority’s Law No. 1 criminalizes Palestinian sales of land to Jews under penalty of death. Mohamed on his deathbed gave an order to “expel the Jews and the Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and not leave any but Muslims there.” The Hamas riots at the Gaza / Israel border are in commemoration of “Land Day.” Does any of this ring a bell?
In the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians pledged to recognize the State of Israel behind the “Green Line” and to amend the Palestinian Covenant accordingly. They never did. They cannot and will not do so without contravening Allah’s command in the Koran, chap. 2, verse 191.
As you think of the thousands of hours of negotiations by Israel, the USA and other international negotiators in trying to reach a final accord with the Palestinians on a “two state solution” since Oslo, one is reminded of the “mirror principle.”
Israeli, US and other politicians and negotiators keep thinking that they are negotiating with “the man in the mirror,” i.e., someone who thinks as they do in a Western, secular way, without regard to prevailing religious factors.
Some commentators state that the leadership of the Palestinians, starting with Yassir Arafat, is secular. To the extent that this may be true, it does not matter. The Palestinian people certainly are not secular. A survey undertaken by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre published on August 6, 2018 asked Palestinians in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) and Gaza: “In general, is religion an important part of your life? The response was 96.8% “yes” in the West Bank and 99.2% “yes” in Gaza.
Israeli and American negotiators are not negotiating with “the man in the mirror” like themselves, but with religious Muslim believing Palestinians. A little more hard knowledge about Islam, which is “the Elephant in the Room,” would help in understanding the Palestinians as driven by their own seriously held religious and cultural imperatives, which are completely the opposite of those of the Israelis and the Americans.