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Religious trash talk goes mainstream in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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But that's just one of the root causes, says veteran Palestinian journalist and blogger Said Ghazali, who also cites "the failure of the PA to build a good society, economic problems, and Islamists gaining power in the Arab world."

'There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him'

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has publicly stated his willingness to accept a two-state solution and territorial compromise. But the charter of Hamas – the Islamist movement that runs Gaza – considers the entire area encompassing Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip sacred Islamic territory ''consecrated for future Muslim generations until judgment day."

It was an Abbas appointee, perhaps in an effort to outbid Hamas, who recently deployed Islam to radicalize the conflict. Earlier this month, the senior PA cleric, Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein, invoked a hadith that says that the resurrection – when pious Muslims will go to paradise – will not take place until the faithful kill Jews.

''The hour will not come until you fight the Jews," said Mr. Hussein, quoting the saying attributed to the prophet Muhammad. "The Jew will hide behind stones and trees. Then the stones and trees will call: O Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.''

Hussein later denied that the sermon, delivered Jan. 9 at the 47th anniversary of the establishment of Mr. Abbas's Fatah movement, was a call to kill Jews. But the fact that it did not prompt a condemnation from the PA, which aired the speech on its TV channel, is a telling sign of poisoned relations as Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Jordan were trying to revive peace talks.

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