The prime minister of the Palestinian Authority Mohammed Shtayyeh addressed the beginning of the Palestinian government session on Monday. Shtayyeh’s address focused on the issue of Jerusalem, accusing Israel of “Judaizing” its eternal capital.
Jerusalem only for Muslims and Christians
“The occupation [Israel] is trying in vain to change its features and practice policies of expansion, annexation, racism and ethnic cleansing against its residents in Sheikh Jarrah [the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood] and Silwan [Shiloah] until its practices extended to the dead in their graves, as it did in the Yusufiyah cemetery, which includes the remains of the Palestinian and Arab martyrs who were martyred in defense of the holy city.”
Shtayyeh went on, claiming Jerusalem as a city with Muslim and Christian significance while maintaining that it had significance for “no other”.
“We are on the outskirts of the eternal capital, the jewel of the crown, the point where the earth meets the sky, the flower of cities and the hearth of the hearts of the believers, Muslims and Christians, who come to it to perform their prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and walk the path of suffering to perform their prayers in the Church of the Resurrection, which witnessed the signing of the age pact and according to which the Caliph Omar gave the covenant It is for the people of Aelia that no one of the Muslims prays in their church. Aelia of Jerusalem, which includes Canaanite, Roman, Islamic, and Christian monuments, is for them only, and others have no traces in it.”
Palestinians claim no Jewish connection to Jerusalem
By denying the historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem, Shtayyeh is perpetuating a long-time lie of the Palestinian establishment. Last week, Mansour Abbas, the head of the Ra’am party and a member of the coalition led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, insisted that the “status quo” be maintained by maintaining a Muslim monopoly on prayer on the Temple Mount and permitting Jews to pray only at the Western Wall. Abbas refused to acknowledge that Jewish Temples ever stood at the site.
This claim was made explicitly last year by Sheikh Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, formerly the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem until 2006 who was appointed by Yasser Arafat, om an interview on Turkish media.
“The occupation uses several methods in order to impose its sovereignty over Al-Aqsa,” Sabri said. “It is imperative to publicize the Islamic narrative about Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and educate Muslims about it in return for responding to the Israeli narrative.”
Al Aqsa Mosque, literally ‘the further mosque, refers to the grey domed mosque on the Temple Mount. The Palestinians have been gradually expanding this term to include the entire Temple Mount and now, to include the entire city of Jerusalem.
“The occupation [Israel] realizes the importance of Al-Aqsa for two billion Muslims,” Sabri said. “We are not concerned with affection only. The problem with Muslims is that they are overcome by emotion. They love Al-Aqsa, but if you ask a Muslim about the history of Jerusalem and its status, he may not know it.”
“It is our duty to clarify our strategic position, which is that Al-Aqsa is for Muslims alone, and the Jews have nothing to do with it,” Sabri said. “It is linked to a decision from God Almighty, not from a security council or a body of nations.”
Refutation of the historicity of the Bible and the archaeological evidence of a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem is a standard talking point for Palestinian leaders. In 2000, President Bill Clinton hosted Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak at Camp David. Dennis Rossa key negotiator at the summit recalled in his book that when the subject of Jerusalem came up, President Clinton cited the religious significance of the Temple Mount to the Jews. Arafat rejected the claim, insisting that Solomon’s Temple had never stood in Jerusalem. The head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) suggested that a similar structure may have once existed in Shechem (Nablus). His unreasoning intransigence infuriated the President of the US. The negotiations broke down and a few weeks later, the second intifada began.