The indispensable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has reported that Kuwaiti imam Sheikh Naji Al-Kharas said in a sermon last Friday that was featured on his YouTube channel that every peace agreement that has ever been negotiated between Muslim Arabs and Israel is “null and void.” Al-Kharas’ reasons for saying this are important and illuminate frequently ignored aspects of the “Palestinian” jihad against Israel, as well as of the Israeli-Arab “peace process,” but mainstream foreign policy and counterterror analysts are certain to persist in their willful ignorance anyway.
Al-Kharas said: “The Arabs have tried to negotiate and sign peace agreements with the Jews. Obviously, all these agreements are null and void. They are all null and void – the Camp David Accord, the Oslo Accord, the [Jordanian-Israeli agreement] of Wadi Arabah, and the ensuing agreements. Why are they null and void? Because they abolish the jihad. You are not allowed to sign a permanent [peace] agreement with the enemy. If you sign an agreement, it must be temporary, and that’s it. Nobody said one can sign a permanent agreement. This won’t be found in the Quran or the Sunnah. Can one abolish the jihad? The jihad must not be abolished.”
I’ve been pointing this out for years, but these warnings have been dismissed as “Islamophobia.” I suppose the imam Sheikh Naji al-Karas is an “Islamophobe.” And so is the official Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, which recently declared that the Palestinian National Council “again expressed its objection to every plan, project, deal, or attempt to harm the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights.” It called upon the Palestine Liberation Organization to “take all the necessary steps to encourage and escalate the resistance and the struggle against the occupation in all its forms and manners.” Jihad is “struggle” in Arabic.
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida is by no means alone in explaining the conflict in Islamic terms. An Islamic Republic press organ, the Tehran Times, reported in January 2020, when news of Trump’s peace plan was first circulating, that “Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on Wed., in a letter sent to the Parliament speakers of the Islamic states, urged Islamic countries to counter US-proposed so-called ‘Deal of Century.’”’
The Islamic State (ISIS) was not to be outdone. According to the Jerusalem Post around the same time, the new ISIS caliph, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, “called on all Muslims worldwide to thwart US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, and added that ‘The Muslims who live in Palestine… will be at the forefront of the fight against the Jews [and] foiling the ‘Deal of the Century.’”
In “secular” Turkey, meanwhile, according to Yeni Şafak, “Turkish demonstrators poured onto streets across the country on Tuesday to protest U.S. President Donald Trump’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan….Many protesters at the rally held placards bearing slogans reading, ‘Jerusalem belongs to Islam.’”
Note all the terminology being used, across the board. “Islamic states” should counter the plan. “Muslims worldwide” should work to thwart it. “Jerusalem belongs to Islam.” Palestinians should escalate their “jihad.”
Yet this is the one aspect of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that mainstream Western analysts routinely dismiss or ignore: Islam. This is a disastrous exercise in willful ignorance, as the Palestinian jihadis and their supporters constantly frame their war against Israel in Islamic terms, as The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process shows.
It’s easy to understand, albeit inexcusable, why the Islamic aspect of the conflict is routinely ignored. The Qur’an commands Muslims to “drive them out from where they drove you out” (2:191), and even though it is a historical fiction that Israel actually drove Muslim Arabs out, this claim is a staple of pro-Palestinian propaganda, and hence it is a divine imperative, no more negotiable than the Ten Commandments are for Jews and Christians, that Muslims must destroy Israel and “drive out” the Israelis.
That means that no negotiated settlement will ever establish Israel securely and end the jihad against it, and that’s why analysts ignore Islam when considering the conflict: people don’t like bad news, or problems that cannot be solved. Nonetheless, this is the reality of the situation, and no good can ever come from ignoring reality.
In light of the role of Islam in the conflict, a Palestinian state would simply be a new base for more jihad attacks against Israel, as the withdrawal from Gaza demonstrated. Its establishment would not bring peace. The idea that Palestinians or their allies and supporters will ever sincerely accept Israel’s right to exist is a pipe dream.
The refusal of analysts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to face the role of Islamic theology in the conflict is astonishingly naïve and ethnocentric. The Palestinians and their supporters will never accept the Trump peace plan because of Islamic imperatives that mandate that Islam must dominate and not be dominated, and that any land that once was ruled by Islamic law must be ruled by Islamic law forever.
Unless and until these facts are taken into account, every peace plan is foredoomed. Just ask Sheikh Naji Al-Kharas.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.
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