There is no point to the negotiations currently going on between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, a prominent Islamic scholar has told Arutz Sheva.
In an interview, Sheikh Abdel Salaam Manasra, the head of Qadiri Sufism in Israel, said that the PA would never accept Israel as a Jewish state – but that did not mean that Jews and Arabs could not live together in peace and harmony.
As leader of a Sufi group – which emphasizes esoteric religious practices not always tolerated by mainstream Sunni Islam – Manasara and his followers have had run-ins with leaders of the Muslim community in Israel and the PA, and have complained of discrimination and racism. Manasra is also known as an advocate of coexistence with Israel. His son, Sheikh Ghassan Manasra is the director of the Islamic Cultural Center in Nazareth, which participates in and sponsors many programs advocating religious tolerance between Jews and Muslims.
That does not make him a Zionist – but according to Manasra, politics is not the main issue between Jews and Muslims.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Manasra said that Muslims, for religious reasons, were unlikely to accept Israel as a Jewish state.
“But we have equal rights, and for us it is enough that the State of Israel is the state of all its citizens. You don't need to require us to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
There is also no reason to oppose establishing a Palestinian state, he continued.
“Those who are truly seeking peace will stop building settlements everywhere. There is a major housing shortage for Arabs. I live in Nazareth and there is no room for my children here, they will have to move elsewhere,” he said.
According to Manasra, Jews and Arabs could work things out, left to their own devices. The U.S. intervention will do much more hard than good, he claims.
“We are cousins, and we need to sit and speak without American intervention. We can make peace between Judaism and Islam. Unfortunately the governments are secular and they rely on the West for guidance. This is why there is no peace,” he said.