The Palestinian issue has been present in the past nine Interfaith Dialogue Conferences hosted annually in Qatar, but was only really highlighted in the 10th conference held from April 23rd-25th.
The main focus of the conference, which emphasises peace and dispute settlement, was the chance to discuss the Palestinian issue and the role of interfaith dialogue in settling disagreements by presenting a number of experiences that underline "dialogue and coexistence".
In this context, Secretary-General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Dr Ali Mohiyeddin Al Quradaghi, believes that Palestine is a critical issue and without it "there will be no peace or dialogue." He also stresses that dialogue must continue, emphasising the importance of sending a message across to the other side regarding "what we want to say." He added that, "We will only sit with the Jewish people long enough to get our message across."
Whereas Ikrema Sabri, Imam and Cleric of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Aljazeera.net about the difficulty of dialogue with the Israelis and noted the continued aggression.
The importance of dialogue
Sabri also said despite this, "We want our voices to be heard by the world, which is why we hold discussions with the Jewish people." Sheikh Sabri also called on the world to adopt the decisions made by such conferences in order for it to have real results.
On his part, American Rabbi Gerry Serota talked about Jewish religious groups attempting to re-plant olive trees destroyed by settlers in the Palestinian territories. He also mentioned the re-construction of demolished Palestinian homes in an effort by his group to strengthen ties and promote dialogue.
He also stated, "We want to compete to do good and promote peace," but he also said "God chose the borders of countries." He called for the mainstreaming of joint humanitarian activities between Palestinians and Israelis as a step towards resolving disputes and strengthening ties.
In response to this, the Mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, said that he hopes Rabbi Serota is being honest pointing out that the situation in Gaza tells a different side of the story, "There is a lot of destruction and an unbearable blockade." He also added, "I wish Rabbi Serota would raise his voice so that the world and Israel would hear that the Palestinians are human too."
Abu Mohammed also said that he hopes Israel is not above international law pointing out that he greatly disagrees with the Rabbi's belief that "the borders between the countries are drawn by God," stating that Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinians. The Mufti of Australian also thanked the Rabbi for confirming that everyone was in the same boat.
He added, "We thank him for re-planting the olive trees and the re-building of homes in Palestine, but there are individuals who are ripping out the people, trees, and stones."
It is also worth mentioning that the Head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, began his boycott of the conference from its fourth session due to the continuing injustice against the Palestinian people and the perceived uselessness of carrying out dialogue for the sake of it.