Palestinian mufti
The Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, at a press conference in Ramallah in 2006. Photo by AP
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Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein instructed Israel Police on Tuesday to open a criminal investigation against a top Muslim cleric for incitement to violence and racism.

Weinstein’s request came a few weeks after Jerusalem’s Mufti Mohammed Hussein quoted a religious text that includes passages about killing Jews during a speech at the 47th anniversary celebration of the Fatah movement in East Jerusalem.

Weinstein stated that the investigation will also look into other statements the mufti has made about Jews in the past.

Excerpts from the cleric's speech were posted on YouTube last week by Palestine Media Watch, an Israeli watchdog group that tracks incitement. The comments drew angry reactions from Israelis Sunday.

"The hour of resurrection will not come until you fight the Jews," Hussein told the gathering, citing a hadith, or saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. "The Jews will hide behind stones and trees. But the trees and the stones will call: Oh Muslim, oh servant of God, there is a Jew hiding behind me, so come and kill him."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Mufti’s speech, calling it a "heinous offense that all nations of the world must condemn.”

Hussein, who is based in Jerusalem, said his comments were taken out of context. "I was speaking about the final signs of the day of resurrection," Hussein said. "I did not incite, and I did not call for killing. We are not, at present, at the end of days."