One of the most telling stories to come out of the spectacular failure that was the 2000 Camp David Summit between Israeli and Palestinian leaders was Yasser Arafat’s turning down of a pretty comprehensive peace deal because he refused to recognize Jewish historical ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, to the horror of many Israelis, had offered to divide Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with the caveat that Jews be allowed to continue visiting the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, unimpeded.
To the astonishment of their host, former President Bill Clinton, Arafat rejected the proposal on the grounds that the Jews never had a temple at the site, and that it was wholly an Islamic site with no connection to the Jews or the their Bible.
Former US Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross later told Fox News that Arafat was not only not accommodating to the Israeli side, but was determined to “deny the core of the Jewish faith.”
It should come as little surprise that Arafat’s protege and long-time deputy, current-Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, is up to the same old tricks.
On Monday, the Palestinian Ministry of Information in Ramallah published a “study” claiming that the Western Wall is an integral part of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Haram al-Sharif (the Islamic term for the Temple Mount).
According to the study, what the Jews call the Western Wall of the Temple compound originally built King Solomon and expanded by King Herod is a wholly Islamic site with no connection to the Jews whatsoever.
“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,” wrote the study’s author, Al-Mutawakel Taha. “During the British mandate in Palestine, the number of Jews who visited the wall increased to a point where the Muslims felt threatened.”
Taha ignored the mountains of archeological and written evidence that affirm ancient Jewish life and temple worship in Jerusalem, and insisted that the Jews have utterly failed to prove their connection to the holy site.
The study concludes that “no Muslim or Arab or Palestinian had the right to give up one stone” of the Western Wall, signaling once again that peace between Israel and the current Palestinian leadership will be impossible without the Jews surrendering not only their land, but their faith and identity.
Israeli leaders demanded that Abbas and his government distance itself from the study.
“This is not the sort of statement to be expected from a partner in peace,” government spokesman Mark Regev told The Jerusalem Post.
Regev continued: “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.” Of course, that is likely the ultimate goal of the Palestinian leadership.
Likud lawmaker Tzipi Hotovely told the newspaper that the government must not ignore this affront, lest the UN and other world bodies endorse or even adopt the Palestinian revisionism. She noted the recent declaration by UNESCO that the tomb of Jacob’s wife and Israel’s matriarch Rachel in nearby Bethlehem is an Islamic holy site.
A day later, Abbas’ regime did just the opposite, and officially backed the study by posting it on an official Palestinian Authority website.