Senior Palestinian Official: Western Wall is Just a Fence Around a Moslem Holy Site

Palestinian Officials Disparage Jewish Holy Sites

(Communicated by the Israel Government Press Office)

The OBLIGATION:

Under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is obligated to promote mutual understanding and tolerance with Israel.

The Interim Agreement (Oslo 2) of September 28, 1995 (Article XXII) states that Israel and the PA "shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other and, without derogating from the principle of freedom of expression, shall take legal measures to prevent such incitement by any organizations, groups or individuals within their jurisdiction."

In the Note for the Record which accompanied the Hebron Protocol of January 15, 1997, the Palestinians reaffirmed their commitment regarding, "Preventing incitement and hostile propaganda, as specified in Article XXII of the Interim Agreement."

The VIOLATIONS:

Following are statements by senior Palestinian officials disparaging Jewish holy sites and threatening potential worshipers. These statements constitute hostile propaganda and incitement and are a violation of the Oslo Accords and the Hebron Protocol.

"Q: In your opinion, is there room for coexistence between Arabs and Jews on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem?

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 our holy to us and to Islam? for 600 years, 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. Since 1967, the Israelis have dug and searched for proof that the site is holy to them, but they have not found any sign of the existence of a Temple or a Jewish community at the site. For us, the Moslems, the place is holy and was always such. I heard that your Temple was in Nablus or perhaps Bethlehem." --- Sheikh Ikrama Sabri, the official PA Mufti (senior Muslim cleric) who was appointed to his position by Yasser Arafat, in an interview with the Israeli weekly Makor Rishon, May 22, 1998. [Note: PA Chairman Yasser Arafat has made similar claims in the past. Arafat said, "That is not the Western Wall at all, but a Moslem shrine." (Maariv, October 11, 1996)]

"Any extremist who enters the Temple Mount compound will not leave it alive." --- Hatam Abdel Kader, member of the PA's Legislative Council, in an interview with the official PA radio station the Voice of Palestine, when asked about the possibility of Jews praying on the Temple Mount (Voice of Palestine, May 24, 1998)

"The archeology of Jerusalem is diverse - excavations in the Old City and the areas surrounding it revealed Umayyad Islamic palaces, Roman ruins, Armenian ruins and others, but nothing Jewish. Outside of what is mentioned/ written in the Old and New Testaments, there is no tangible evidence of any Jewish traces/ remains in the old city of Jerusalem and its immediate vicinity." --- PA Information Ministry Press Release, December 10, 1997

"Be alert and treat Joseph's Tomb and Rachel's Tomb as parcels of Palestinian land which must be liberated, and treat Joseph and Rachel as two people who died, like anyone else." --- excerpt from an article in the official PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, December 1, 1997, concerning Jewish holy sites in Nablus and Bethlehem

"The 'Al-Buraq' Wall [the Western Wall] is a part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jews have no relation to it, whether or not a decision to expropriate it was made." --- PA Mufti Ikrama Sabri in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, November 22, 1997



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