JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Palestinian Authority reportedly removed from its website a paper that denies any Jewish connection to the Western Wall.
The report was not on the PA’s official website on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.
Its author, Al-Mutawakil Taha, a civil servant in the Information Ministry, told the AP that he stands by his report, which says the Western Wall was never a part of the Temple Mount complex.
“This wall was never part of the so-called Temple Mount, but Muslim tolerance allowed the Jews to stand in front of it and weep over its destruction,” he wrote.
The paper was condemned Tuesday by the Obama administration. Earlier in the week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the claim.
U.S. Jewish groups, including include the Orthodox Union, B’nai B’rith International, the Zionist Organization of America and J Street, also condemned the paper, as did lawmakers including Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the outgoing chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and his replacement, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). The ZOA called P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas an "anti-Semite."
Condemnation of the Palestinian position also came from Washington.
“Regarding a claim by a senior Palestinian official of the Western Wall is an Islamic Waqf, we strongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Tuesday. "We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of de-legitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land."
The Western Wall’s origins as the outer wall of the Jewish Second Temple are grounded in archaeological evidence and in contemporary descriptions.