JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jerusalem’s identity is Arab, and the city’s Islamic and Christian holy sites must be protected from Israeli threats, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said.
Abbas also said that Israeli authorities want to build a Jewish Temple on the site of the al-Aksa mosque and Dome of the Rock, in a statement issued Tuesday on the anniversary of an attempted arson of the Al-Aksa Mosque in 1969 by an Australian Christian, who was later found to be clinically insane.
“Their ultimate goal is to rob Muslims and Christians of their holy shrines, destroy the Al Aksa mosque and build the alleged Jewish temple,” he said.
He also said that Israeli excavation work in Jerusalem, and in the Western Wall tunnels beneath the mosque, “will not undermine the fact that the city will forever be Arabic, Islamic and Christian.”
Abbas concluded that "there will be no peace or stability before our beloved city and eternal capital is liberated from occupation and settlement.”
The Orthodox Union slammed Abbas’ denial of Jewish heritage in Jerusalem. Nathan Diament, the OU’s executive director for Public Policy, said in a statement:
“President Abbas’ statement is only the latest in which he and other Palestinian leaders have outrageously denied the millennia-old connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The existence of our two holy Temples is not ‘alleged’ — it is fact. Just as it is fact that Jerusalem has served as the capital of Israel and the Jewish people since the times of King David; just as it is fact that only under modern Israeli sovereignty have Jerusalem’s holy sites been protected and open to access by people of all faiths; and just as it is fact that Jerusalem must and will remain a united city, and the capital of Israel and the Jewish people eternally.”