In a claim that scholars compare to Holocaust Denial and which essentially denies the veracity of the Bible, the Palestinian Authority prime minister claimed that there is no archaeological proof that any Jewish Temple ever stood in Jerusalem.
PA PM: No Jewish Temples
In an interview translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told Al Jazeera that years of archaeological research had failed to provide evidence of a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount.
“Since 1967 and the occupation of the West Bank, Israel has carried out a series of excavations underneath al-Aqsa mosque which haven’t proved any connection whatsoever to the hall [Temple] or anything similar,” said Shtayyeh.
PA Agenda: No Jewish Temples
Temple denial is a mainstay of the Palestinian political agenda intended to erase any connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel. Compared by scholars to Holocaust denial, Temple denial is a relatively modern phenomenon that contradicts explicit statements in the Koran defining Israel as the land of the Jews. Before 1948, the Muslim Waqf (religious authority in Jerusalem) had openly stated that the location of the Jewish temples at the site was “beyond dispute.” This policy changed in 1948.
According to Dore Gold and Dennis Ross, at the 2000 Camp David Summit, then-Palestinian National Authority President Yasser Arafat told then-American President Bill Clinton that “Solomon’s Temple was not in Jerusalem, but Nablus (Shechem).” The US president was reportedly stunned by Arafat’s statement.
In January 2017, newly elected Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres made clear reference to the fact that a temple once stood on the Temple Mount, and positively asserted its destruction during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE during a speech commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day. High-ranking PLO and Palestinian government officials demanded that Guterres recant this claim and submit an apology to the Palestinian people, condemning him when he refused to do so.
An October 2015 New York Times article also brought into question the historical veracity of the existence of the Jewish Temples at the site.
As part of the Temple Denial agenda, the Waqf carries out illegal construction projects that destroy artifacts on the Temple Mount. The most egregious example of this took place in 1999 when the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement conducted illegal renovations on the Temple Mount and disposed of over 9,000 tons of dirt mixed with invaluable archaeological artifacts. The earth and the artifacts within were dumped as garbage in the nearby Kidron Valley. In a bold move, archaeologists Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira retrieved the matter from the dump, and in 2004, they started sifting it in what became the Temple Mount Sifting Project (TMSP) with the goal of rescuing ancient artifacts and conducting research. The project has recovered countless artifacts from the Jewish Temples.
PA PM Lying about Arab demographics
In the interview, Shtayyeh also accused Israel of working on a “Jerusalem 2020 plan” intended to reduce the Arab population of Jerusalem to 19%.
“This has failed completely,” he said, adding that “Palestinians make up 40 percent of the population of Jerusalem.”
The source for his claim of the existence of such a plan is unknown but it should be noted that in 1944, Arabs accounted for 19.6% of the 157,000 residents of Jerusalem. In 1967, after 20 years of Jordanian rule, that had increased to 20.8 percent. The Arab population of Jerusalem currently stands at 29%.
Shtayeh claimed that world opinion supports the Palestinians.
“The world is without question showing unprecedented support for the Palestinians. In a meeting, the director of Facebook told me that the hashtag ‘Sheikh Jarrah’ had been shared 76 million times,” he said.