24 November 2010
Israel has called on the Palestinian leadership to publicly disassociate itself from a “scientific study” by a Palestinian Authority official which denies Jewish claims to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. PM Netanyahu’’s spokesman Mark Regev said: “This is not the sort of statement to be expected from a partner in peace.” He added: “Denying the Jewish connection to the Western Wall is to deny reality. If you deny the Jewish connection to the Western Wall you are in fact denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the land of Israel itself. When they deny the Jewish connection, they are unfortunately raising very serious questions as to their true commitment to reconciliation.”
The Palestinian Ministry of Information posted the results on its website. The project was prepared by al-Mutawakel Taha, a senior official with the Ministry and a prominent Palestinian poet and writer. Taha concludes that the Western Wall was never a Jewish site, but had always belonged to Muslims and claims that it is actually the western wall of the Al-Aksa Mosque. He refers to an entry in the “Jewish Encyclopedia, published in 1917” which says that “the Western Wall became part of the Jewish religious tradition around the year 1520, as a result of Jewish immigration from Spain, after the Ottoman conquest the year 1517... This was not part of the wall of the so-called Jewish Temple.” However, Jews do not claim the wall was part of the Temple building itself, but of the compound surrounding it.
Gershon Baskin, the joint CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, sent a letter to the Palestinian leadership, calling the findings “a serious mistake” and “a stain on the Palestinian Authority.” He was quoted by the ‘Jerusalem Post’ as writing: “Any observer, even a non-professional archeologist, can discern that the stones used to construct the Western Wall are from the era of Solomon’s Temple and the Temple rebuilt by King Herod which was hundreds of years before Islam appeared on the world stage. The falsification of history, as done in the report by the Palestinian poet Al-Mutawakel Taha, a senior official with the Ministry of Information, is a serious stain on the Palestinian Authority.”
In America, the Orthodox Union condemned the study. "This official government propaganda is contemptible, historically false and runs afoul of efforts to achieve peace with the State of Israel," the OU's director of public policy, Nathan Diament, said in a statement. OU leaders sent a letter to US President Barack Obama asking that he repudiate such anti-Israel incitement perpetrated by an official arm of the Palestinian Authority.
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