A delegation of senior Fatah leaders visited Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood on Monday in order to send their condolences to the extreme haredi anti-Zionist group, Neturei Karta, which recently lost its leader, Rabbi Moshe Hirsch.
Rabbi Hirsch was one of the most vociferous anti-Zionist leaders, and even nurtured a long-term relationship with Fatah, the PLO, and Yasser Arafat. At one point, he even served as Arafat's minister for Jewish affairs in the PA. Prior to this, he was his advisor.
Leading the Fatah delegation was Hatem Abdel Qader, an adviser on Jerusalem affairs to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Bilal a-Natasha, who holds the Jerusalem portfolio in the movement's revolutionary council.
At the end of the visit, Abdel Qader said to Ynet that Fatah considered Rabbi Hirsch "the leader of the Palestinian Jews," who are part of the Palestinian state.
According to Abdel Qader, "This is the first time we are making an official visit to Mea Shearim. From our perspective Mea Shearim is part of east Jerusalem, which will be part of the capital of the Palestinian state."
He added that Fatah does not plan on giving up Mea Shearim in negotiations with Israel, "nor the members of the Neturei Karta movement."
Hirsch was a leading figure in Neturei Karta, a tiny ultra-Orthodox sect that opposes Israel's existence as a Jewish state and has embraced its enemies. He was born in New York and attended a rabbinical academy in New Jersey.
Neturei Karta, which is Aramaic for "Guardians of the City," was founded some 70 years ago in Jerusalem by Jews who opposed the drive to establish the state of Israel. Estimates of the group's size range from a few hundred to a few thousand. Hirsch was the son-in-law of the group's founder, Rabbi Aharon Katzenelbogen.
Edah Haredit, an umbrella group of anti-Zionist Jewish sects, confirmed Hirsch died on Sunday.
AP contributed to this report