Posted by: Michael Goldblatt, chairman, board of directors, ZOA
April 2, 2014
News Op-Ed Press Release

ZOA: Pal. Lies & Denial About Jewish Connection & Rights in J’lem Must Stop Now

The PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash; the former Chief Justice of the PA’s Religious Court, Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi; and the PA Mufti, Muhammad Hussein, all recently declared that the PA’s Islamic belief and political position is that Jews are prohibited from praying at the Western Wall.

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to the surreal situation in which Israel is presently under American pressure to make concessions to Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah/Palestinian Authority (PA) when Abbas’ PA actively continues to deny the Jewish connection to Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular and to demand an end to Jewish rights and prayers in Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem.

 The PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash; the former Chief Justice of the PA’s Religious Court, Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi; and the PA Mufti, Muhammad Hussein, all recently declared that the PA’s Islamic belief and political position is that Jews are prohibited from praying at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount

 Al-Habbash said, “Jerusalem is religion’s trust and history’s trust in the hands of all Muslims, in the hands of this Ummah [Islamic Nation] … The Al-Buraq Wall [i.e., the Western Wall of the Temple Mount] is an authentic part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque only” (Official PA TV, December 6, 2013, translation in ‘PA religious leaders: Jews must not pray at Western Wall,’ Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) bulletin, March 27, 2014). 

 Al-Habbash also said last month, “The Al-Aqsa Mosque will remain, by divine decree, a Muslim mosque, will not be shared with anyone, will not be forfeited, and no one besides Muslims will pray in it (PA official daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, February 28, 2014, translation in ‘PA religious leaders: Jews must not pray at Western Wall,’ PMW bulletin, March 27, 2014).

 Al-Tamimi said, “Allah decreed that the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque is Islamic and belongs to Muslims alone … It is part of the religious belief of a billion and a half Muslims, and the Jews have no right to it. No party, no matter how much power and international support it has, can change this established fact by giving the Jews any right to it, or the right to pray in any part of it. The Al-Aqsa Mosque includes all its courtyards … and specifically, its western wall, which is, after all, a part of it” (Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida, February 17, 2014, translation in ‘PA religious leaders: Jews must not pray at Western Wall,’ PMW bulletin, March 27, 2014).

 Also, last week, the highest religious authority in the PA, PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein, accused Israel of attempting to “lay hands on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque … [and] in addition to the threat of destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque to establish the alleged Temple on its ruins … The plazas, walls, buildings, courtyards, domes, colonnades and stone benches of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, everything underneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque and everything above it, are waqf (an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law) until Judgment Day, and the Palestinians have an exclusive right to them, which they share with no one” (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 26, 2014, translation in ‘PA religious leaders: Jews must not pray at Western Wall,’ PMW bulletin, March 27, 2014).

 ZOA National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt said, “These recent statements by the highest PA religious and governmental officials with responsibility for matters pertaining to Jerusalem’s Muslim sites have been emphatic about their refusal to acknowledge the prior Jewish history, connection and religious rights to Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest city, and its Jewish holy sites. 

 “There is an alarming and long record of Palestinians of flat-earth denial of well-known Jewish history that would simply boggle the mind of any educated Westerner conversant with the subject.

 “When Yasser Arafat turned down President Bill Clinton’s peace parameters in January 2001, he stunned President Clinton by denying that the biblical Jewish temples had stood on Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

 “When we see that PA officials from Arafat and Abbas down have been uttering these denialist lies for years and that PA officials are repeating and intensifying these lies today while American-mediated negotiations are being convened, we must assume the PA is laying the groundwork for asserting a new, outrageous negotiating demand and precondition –– that Jerusalem’s Jewish holy sites and Jewish prayers and practices related to them must cease.

 “The lies the PA tells Palestinians always become the lies they tell the rest of the world and make the basis of their demands.

 “If President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry genuinely seek to work towards peace, they should be immediately suspending diplomatic efforts until Mahmoud Abbas and the PA formally withdraw these false, outrageous, offensive, and absurd claims and demands. To leave this –– like the issue of Palestinian acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state –– to a later stage is to tacitly accept and legitimize these Palestinian assertions. It must stop now.”

 Past PA denial of Jewish history and connection to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem:

  •  Sheikh Dr. Ikrima Sabri, PA-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem and head of the Supreme Islamic Council, rejected Jewish claims to the Western Wall as “contrast[ing] with the facts and history” and accused the Israelis of “break-ins” into to the mosque signaling that “the occupation plans to intensify targeting Al-Aqsa … as a step towards building the alleged Temple” (‘Sheikh Sabri: Buraq Wall is a part of Al-Aqsa Mosque,’ Qassam News, December 12, 2012).
  •  Tayseer Tamimi, PA chief religious official: “I know of Muslim and Christian holy sites in [Jerusalem]. I don’t know of any Jewish holy sites in it… Israel has been excavating since 1967 in search of remains of their Temple or their fictitious Jewish history” (PA TV, June 9, 2009).
  •  Adnan Husseini, advisor to PA president Mahmoud Abbas: “[The Western Wall] is part of Islamic heritage that cannot be given up, and it must be under Muslim control” (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 11, 2007).
  •  Jarar al Qidwa, former advisor to PA leader Yasser Arafat:“Solomon’s Temple, I believe, was built by the Canaanites who were the neighbors of … the Israelites… In any case, when our nation or our Canaanite forefathers came to Palestine, they built the Temple … The issue of the temple is a Zionist innovation” (PA TV, Aug. 2, 2004).
  •  Yasser Arafat, PA president: “[The Israelis] found not a single stone proving that the Temple of Solomon was there, because historically the Temple was not in Palestine [at all]. They found only remnants of a shrine of the Roman Herod” (Al-Hayat [London], Oct. 5, 2002). 
  •  ’Ikrima Sabri, PA-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem: “There is not [even] the smallest indication of the existence of a Jewish Temple on this place in the past. In the whole city, there is not even a single stone indicating Jewish history” (Die Welt, January 17, 2001).
  •  Yasser Arafat: “Solomon’s Temple was not in Jerusalem, but Nablus” (Remarks uttered to President Bill Clinton, 2000, Dennis Ross, The Missing Peace, p. 694).
  •  Saeb Erekat, PA Chief negotiator: “This whole issue of the Temple… is a Jewish invention lacking any basis” (Remarks in 2000, Shlomo Ben-Ami, A Front Without a Rearguard: A Voyage to the Boundaries of the Peace Process, p. 219).
  •  Ikrima Sabri: “Moslems have no knowledge or awareness that the Temple Mount has any sanctity for Jews. Why should we allow the Jews to share in places which are holy to us and to Islam… The Moslems ruled the land, since the Caliph Omar, and only now have the Jews remembered to demand a right to the Temple Mount. The Moslems will never permit anyone to enter the Temple Mount. If the Jews really want peace, they must absolutely forget about having any rights over the Temple Mount or al-Aksa Mosque. The Western Wall also belongs to Moslems, and was given to the Jews as a place of prayer only because the British asked and the Moslems agreed out of the goodness of their hearts. The Western Wall is just a fence belonging to a Moslem Holy Site” (Makor Rishon, May 22, 1998).
  •  Jarid al-Kidwa, a Palestinian ‘historian’ broadcast in the PA media: “The stories of the Torah and the Bible did not take place in the Land of Israel – they occurred in the Arabian peninsula, primarily in Yemen” (Ha’aretz, July 6, 1997).
  •  Sheikh Muhammad Husayn, Director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque: “This is a place for Muslims, only Muslims. There is no temple here, only Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock” (New York Times, October 27, 1996).
  •  Walid M. Awad, Director of Foreign Publications for the PLO’s Palestine Ministry of Information: “Jerusalem was never a Jewish city” (IMRA news agency, December 25, 1996).
  •  PA president Yasser Arafat: “That is not the Western Wall at all, but a Moslem shrine” (Ma’ariv, October 11, 1996).