Israel slams Palestinian study denying Jewish link to Western Wall
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Thursday a Palestinian document claiming that Judaism's holiest prayer site was not Jewish, and called on the Palestinian Authority to "disavow and condemn" the study, dpa reported.
"The Palestinian Authority Information Ministry's denial of the link between the Jewish People and the Western Wall is reprehensible and scandalous," a statement issued by the premier's office said.
"The Western Wall has been the Jewish People's most sacred place for almost 2,000 years, since the destruction of the Second Temple. This is not the only instance in which Palestinians are trying to distort historical facts in order to deny the deep and historic link between the Jewish People and its homeland," the statement added.
The Palestinian document, authored by senior Palestinian Information Ministry official Al-Mutawakei Taha, alleges that the Western Wall, located in Jerusalem's Old City, is not a surviving remnant of the Biblical Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, but is instead an integral part of the nearby al-Aqsa Mosque.
The document also said that until 1917 Jews never prayed at the wall, familiarly known as the Wailing Wall, because generations of Jews gathered there to mourn the loss of the temple.
"When the Palestinian Authority denies the link between the Jewish People and the Western Wall, it calls into serious question its intentions of reaching a peace agreement, the foundations of which are coexistence and mutual recognition," the statement form Netanyahu's office said.
"The government of Israel expects Palestinian Authority leaders to disavow and condemn the aforesaid document, refrain from distorting historical facts and encourage the creation of a bridge to peace that will lead to an historic reconciliation between the two peoples," the statement concluded.
The Western Wall abuts the flashpoint Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary compound, which houses the al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock Mosques. Moslems venerate the compound as the site from where the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven, Jews regard it as holy because it is built on the site of their Biblical temple.
Following the division of Jerusalem at the end of the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war, the Wall and the Compound became part of Jordanian-administered East Jerusalem.
They came under Israeli control in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel says it is a part of its eternal, undivided capital.