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PA and Fatah personalities
Mahmoud Al-Habbash
PA and Fatah personalities
Mahmoud Abbas
Abbas Zaki
Yasser Arafat
PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein
Ibrahim Mudayris
Mahmoud Al-Habbash
Ahmed Qurei
Salam Fayyad
Issa Karake
Jibril Rajoub
Mahmoud Al-Habbash

Mahmoud Al-Habbash was appointed Minister of Religious Affairs by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in June 2009. He served in that position until June 2014, when the Fatah-Hamas unity government was formed. He was then appointed Supreme
Shari’ah Judge and Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs and Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari'ah Justice.

In a press conference broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV, Al-Habbash explained that when he served as Minister of Religious Affairs, he was responsible for “all activity within the mosques” including the sermons, which require prior approval by his ministry:

“It should be noted that the Ministry of Religious Affairs held the press briefing in the conference hall at the Ministry of Information to talk about the steps taken by the PA in order to regulate the activity of the mosques…
Al-Habbash [PA Minister of Religious Affairs] emphasized that the mosques and everything related to them belong to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, from the employees – the imam, the speaker, the Quran teacher, the librarian, the caretakers and custodians –via the mosque and its adjacent structures… to regulation of the activity and the functioning, in accordance with Shari’ah and civil law…
He emphasized that the Ministry is responsible for all activity within the mosques – the functioning, the centers for Quran study, the calls to prayer, and the sermons – and that the Ministry would not take lightly or be negligent in the fulfillment of its obligation. He noted that the religious lessons, Quran study and other activities going on in the mosques require prior approval by the Ministry.” [Al-Ayyam, Aug. 16, 2010]

In his capacity as minister, Al-Habbash delivered the Friday sermons transmitted on official PA TV, using them to convey different messages to the people. The sermons, many which of are documented on PMW’s website, are a reflection of the messages that the Ministry of Religious Affairs choose to disseminate to the Palestinian people.

A recurring message propagated in Al-Habbash's sermons is that Palestinians are in a Ribat, an eternal religious conflict with Israel. In many of his sermons, Al-Habbash emphasizes the importance of Ribat as a religious duty incumbent upon all Muslim Palestinians, as expressed in the following example:

"Allah has preordained for us the Ribat (religious war) on this blessed land. We are committed to it by Allah’s command. Let no one be mistaken or under the illusion that Ribat (religious war) is a choice and nothing more. It is a commandment that necessitates hardship and requires the person to rush to fulfill this command. If Allah has chosen you for Ribat on the land of Ribat, you, the choicest of God’s servants, then this is an honor. The enemy is patient, it is waiting for the nation to collapse. The struggle over this land is not merely a struggle over a piece of land here or there. Not at all. The struggle has the symbolism of holiness, or blessing. It is a struggle between those whom Allah has chosen for Ribat and those who are trying to mutilate the land of Ribat." [Official PA TV, Feb. 12, 2010]

PA Minister criticizes Hamas attack for giving Netanyahu advantage at talks 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Sept. 3, 2010
     “We ask a question… what is the secret of the timing for carrying out armed operations in the West Bank? We want to know the secret of the timing... if they [Hamas] have any connection to the interests of the Palestinian people, they [Hamas] should explain it to us – let them explain to us the secret of this genius that underlies the timing of these operations.”
PA Minister of Religious Affairs: Jerusalem and surroundings are "land of Ribat" 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Aug. 27, 2010
     “We come to you from there – from Jerusalem and from the Jerusalem surroundings, from the land of Ribat [religious war], the land which Allah blessed forever… Today the Palestinian people in Jerusalem stand alone. They want to see the Arabs and the Muslims at their side; they want to see all the Arabs and all the Muslims coming to Jerusalem, emphasizing its status and its identity, and telling the usurpers (i.e., Israel): ‘You have no place here.’ Telling the occupiers, ‘This is not your place, but ours. This is not your city, but ours.’ Our religion demands this. Our faith demands this of us.”
PA Minister of Religious Affairs: Violence and war still an option 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Aug. 20, 2010
Friday sermon by Mahmoud Al-Habbash, PA Minister of Religious Affairs, at the mosque at Mahmoud Abbas’s offices in Ramallah. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was in the audience:
     "Jerusalem is not just a city. Al-Aqsa is not just a mosque. Jerusalem is the key to peace, and Jerusalem can ignite a thousand and one wars. Unless the issue of Jerusalem is solved, so that it returns to its owners; unless Jerusalem will be Palestinian, as it was throughout history, the capital of the Palestinian state and the capital of the Palestinian people, the place which is the object of heartfelt longing and which all Muslims aspire to reach; unless Jerusalem is like that way, there is no peace. There is no peace without Jerusalem. There is no stability without Jerusalem. If Jerusalem is dishonored, if Jerusalem is disgraced, if [Jerusalem] is lost, it may leave the door open to all possibilities of struggle, all possibilities of war. The term 'war' cannot be erased from the lexicon of this region as long as Jerusalem is occupied, as long as Jerusalem is disgraced, as long as the residents of Jerusalem are being targeted. It's not possible; Jerusalem has to return to its owners. And we are its owners."
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PA Minister of Religious Affairs: Ministry responsible for all activities in the mosques 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 16, 2010
Statement by Dr. Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Minister of Religious Affairs, about PA responsibility for mosques and what goes on inside them as reported in the official PA daily from a press conference held at the governmental media center in Ramallah:
     “It should be noted that the Ministry of Religious Affairs held the press briefing in the conference hall at the Ministry of Information to talk about the steps taken by the PA in order to regulate the activity of the mosques…
Al-Habbash [PA Minister of Religious Affairs] emphasized that the mosques and everything related to them belong to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, from the employees – the imam, the speaker, the Quran teacher, the librarian, the caretakers and custodians –via the mosque and its adjacent structures… to regulation of the activity and the functioning, in accordance with Shari’ah and civil law…
He emphasized that it is the Ministry which is unquestionably responsible for all activity within the mosques – the functioning, the centers for Quran study, the calls to prayer, and the sermons – and that the Ministry would not take lightly or be negligent in the fulfillment of its obligation. He noted that the religious lessons, Quran study and other activities going on in the mosques require prior approval by the Ministry.”
PA Minister of Religious Affairs: Israel is "our enemy" 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Aug. 6, 2010
Friday sermon broadcast on PA TV; in the audience is member of Fatah Central Committee, Tawfiq Al-Tirawi:
     “Our enemy [Israel] is not interested in seeing us united. Our enemy does not wish to see us strong. It wants to see us divided. Division is weakness… Unity is what will strengthen the ranks and will give us the strength in dealing with our enemy.”
PA Minister of Religious Affairs: Cave of the Patriarchs and Al-Aqsa are an "absolute Islamic right" 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Aug. 1, 2010
PA TV News telephone interview with Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Habbash:
     “For our part, we view the Ibrahimi Mosque [Cave of the Patriarchs], like the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as an absolute Islamic right; none of the Israelis have any right to it. The problem between us and the Israelis is not a problem over religion or tenets of faith; it is not a religious problem or one concerning the fulfillment of religious ceremonies, but rather a problem with the occupation.”
Minister of Religious Affairs: We will not "relinquish even a single grain of the land of Palestine" 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 11, 2010
     “Jerusalem is faith, religion, history, present and future. The anniversary of the Journey and the Flight strengthens the truth of this land. Jerusalem, for us, is life, it is the homeland, it is the state. It is not possible for us to relinquish even a single grain of the land of Jerusalem… there is no peace without Jerusalem.”
PA Minister of Religious Affairs warns: Without Jerusalem "there will be no peace" 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 8, 2010
PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Dr. Mahmoud Al-Habbash:
     “The anniversary of the Journey and Flight [Muhammad’s journey to Jerusalem and flight to heaven, according to Muslim tradition] and its connection to Palestine, represent proof of the sanctity of our cause. He [PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Dr. Mahmoud Al-Habbash] clarified that Jerusalem is a part of our belief and our religion and taking Jerusalem lightly is taking our religion lightly…: ‘The position of the leadership is a firm position, just as our faith is firm. To make light of Jerusalem is to make light of our faith. Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state. There will be no peace, nor stability in the region, without Jerusalem. It is not possible for anyone to sign a document relinquishing it.'”
Minister of Religious Affairs: "[Palestinian] nation carries out Ribat today in the land of Ribat" 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, June 4, 2010
     "This [Palestinian] nation carries out Ribat today in the land of Ribat; this is the nation that is defending its holiness, dignity and blessing – the land of Jerusalem… Has this occupation (i.e., Israel) succeeded in breaking the strength of the Palestinian people? Has it succeeded in breaking the strength of the Ribat fighters on the land of Jerusalem, upon the holy and blessed land of Palestine?"
PA Minister of Religious Affairs: Jihad not possible now so carry out "popular resistance" 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, May 21, 2010
Friday sermon, Speaker: PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash
     "Jihad is an obligation whose manner changes from time to time. All that we are carrying out in Palestine, in Jerusalem and its environs, is Jihad…”
"This is the obligation of our times, right now. We cannot fulfill other forms of the obligations. [While] perhaps our conditions do not allow for that, our abilities do not allow for it, nevertheless it is our obligation to carry out what we are able to, and what we are able [to do] is the civilian and non-violent, sensible, wise and mature popular resistance."
PA Minister of Religious Affairs: Religious war in Israel is an obligation from the Quran 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, May 14, 2010
     "Since that date [1917, Balfour Declaration], resolute people, fighters and Ribat (religious war) fighters have not ceased upon our blessed land… This conflict is explicit in the Quran and our obligation with regard to it is clarified by the Quran… We do not oppose peace. On the contrary, we aspire to peace, but not at the expense of our rights; not at the expense of our cause, and not at the expense of our religion."
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PA Minister of Religious Affairs: Palestinian "nation of Ribat" 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Apr. 16, 2010
Friday sermon, Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash:
     "For decades, this [Palestinian] nation of Ribat (religious war on Islamic land), which Allah chose to settle in the blessed holy land, has been subject to ongoing harm and a difficult challenge.”
PA Minister of Religious Affairs: History disproves all Israeli claims to land 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Mar. 2, 2010
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash:
     "History proves the Arab, Islamic and Palestinian right to this land and disproves all the Israeli claims that they have religious and historical rights in this land."
PA Minister of Religious Affairs: Allah commands religious war in Israel 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Feb. 12, 2010
     "Allah has preordained for us the Ribat (religious war) on this blessed land. We are committed to it by Allah’s command. Let no one be mistaken or under the illusion that Ribat (religious war) is a choice and nothing more. It is a commandment that necessitates hardship and requires the person to rush to fulfill this command. If Allah has chosen you for Ribat on the land of Ribat, you, the choicest of God’s servants, then this is an honor. The enemy is patient, it is waiting for the nation to collapse. The struggle over this land is not merely a struggle over a piece of land here or there. Not at all. The struggle has the symbolism of holiness, or blessing. It is a struggle between those whom Allah has chosen for Ribat and those who are trying to mutilate the land of Ribat."
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PA MP: Jerusalem residents obliged to wage religious war 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Oct. 4, 2009
Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Minister of Religious Affairs:
     "It is the duty of the residents of Jerusalem and the inhabitants of Palestine – anyone who is able to get to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, must get there! And they are obligated to wage Ribat (religious war defending Islamic land), and to be present at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in order to defend it and to demonstrate that [Al-Aqsa] is exclusively Muslim!"
PA Minister: Even religious Jews deny Temple in Jerusalem 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Apr. 16, 2009
Mahmoud Al-Habbash, PA Minister of Agriculture and Welfare:
     "They [the Jews] base themselves on myths and invoke the Jewish religion and Jewish faith, despite the fact that the truly religious Jews truly believe - and they have stated this on more than one occasion - that the Temple was never in the Holy City [Jerusalem], and was absolutely never on the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque."
Jerusalem is in eternal religious war 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Apr. 16, 2009
Mahmoud Al-Habbash, former PA Minister of Agriculture and Welfare:
     "Our fundamental task - and this must be clear to all - is the continuation of Ribat upon the land of Jerusalem, upon the land of Palestine; a continuation of Ribat, striking roots in this land."
Refugees left homes in 1948 because of Arab promises 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 13, 2006
Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Palestinian Journalist:
     "The leaders and the elites promised us [refugees] at the beginning of the "Catastrophe" in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave until they put their trust in those Arkuvian* [worthless] promises made by the leaders and the political elites. Afterwards, days passed, months, years and decades, and the promises were lost with the strain of the succession of events.."
[Note: The term "Arkuvian" is after Arkuv - a figure from Arab tradition - who was known for breaking his promises and for his lies.]
Op-ed in official PA daily supports suicide attacks against Israelis 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 9, 2006
Article by Mahmoud Al-Habbash in his regular column

Headline: "Fiction falls, and long live the truth"
      "The truth can be told here, that it is not surprising that the Israelis carry out these massacres, for that is what they are like, as the Quran said: 'You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah.' (Sura 5:82)
But what is strange – and distasteful in light of all the criminal deeds [committed by] Israelis – is the sluggish Arab position and the international conspiracy that encourages and entices the criminals in Olmert's Nazi government to follow the footsteps of their predecessors, i.e. aggression against our people… This new Israeli criminal deed in Gaza will be – and moreover should be – the basis for natural Palestinian reactions whatever form and dimension they may take, because for every action there is a reaction. Daily Israeli attacks and crimes like these – must be met by Palestinian resistance in every manner presently possible, including suicide attacks, as is to be expected. That will require… informational and political stimuli… through a realistic informational campaign that will explain to the world that all Palestinian responses to Israeli aggression are no more than legitimate self-defense… so that Palestinian truth will vanquish Israeli fiction."

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