PA ups ante against Israeli sovereignty move: Issues first threat of violence

“Everything that happened in the last hundred years will pale in comparison to what will happen in the next hundred years,” said President Mahmoud Abbas’ adviser on religious affairs.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

For the first time since Israel’s sovereignty plan made headlines, a Palestinian Authority (PA) official issued a public threat of violence, warning Palestinians would answer with bullets.

In an exclusive interview with Israel’s Channel 20, Mahmoud Habash, the religious affairs adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, said that what happened in the past would be child’s play in comparison to the future if Israel went through with a sovereignty move.

“We won’t raise a white flag and will not give up and will continue the struggle. We struggled and fought against you for a hundred years and have nothing preventing us from fighting you for another hundred years. All of Palestine is a project of resistance,” he said.

In fact, he added, “everything that happened in the last hundred years will pale in comparison to what will happen in the next hundred years.”

When asked directly if a return to an armed struggle is one of the options open to the PA, he answered, “If you want it.” He then hesitated momentarily before adding, “There will be no choice. The issue depends on what Israel will decide. Do you want us to return to the armed struggle? You decide. You decide.”

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“If Israel annexes one centimeter, we will act against it as if it annexed the whole area of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

According to interviewer Baruch Yedid, Habash is one of President Abbas’ closest advisers, and he must have spoken with Abbas’ knowledge, and perhaps even his full backing.

Habash offered carrots as well as sticks. He started off the interview by saying, “Everyone should know that the leadership and Palestinian people want a true peace with the Israeli people.” And if only Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “would say the magic words ‘no sovereignty,’ already tomorrow we would sit together and discuss everything,” he said.

The PA adviser went even further.

If Israel turned away from the deal of the century, he said, “We’ll put everything on the table with no preconditions.” Yet even so, he said that such negotiations would “at least solve part of the conflict,” not all of it.

He did seem to grab both ends of the stick when he described the peace the PA would accept as the two-state solution based on previous international resolutions, but demanded, “Don’t you [Israel] try to impose on us the results of negotiations in advance.”

Habash’s hardline credentials as the supreme sharia judge in the PA and chairman of the Supreme Council for Sharia Justice showed through when he rejected Jerusalem’s demand to be recognized as a Jewish state.

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“Israel is free to define itself as it wants, but I don’t recognize what is called a Jewish state,” he said.

Israel has made recognition of its nature as a Jewish state a minimal requirement for negotiations with the Palestinians.