Palestinians claim ownership of Western Wall

November 24, 2010

JERUSALEM (RNS) The Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, is
actually a Muslim shrine, according to an official report published
Monday (Nov. 22) by the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Information.

The document, which was written by Al-Mutawakei Tahad, a senior
ministry official and respected writer, states that the Wall -- long
considered the sole surviving piece of the Second Jewish Temple built
atop the Temple Mount more than 2,000 years ago-- is actually part of
the Al-Aqsa Mosque, built on Haram al-Sharif, the Arabic name for the
Temple Mount.

Archeologists maintain that Al-Aqsa was built atop the ruins of the
Second Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Muslims did
not capture Jerusalem until 638 A.D.

The report claims that Jews have lied about the wall's age, and that
they never worshipped there prior to 1917.

"Al-Buraq Wall is in fact the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque," Taha
wrote, according to the Jerusalem Post, which broke the story on Monday.

"The Zioinist occupation falsely and unjustly claims that it owns
this wall, which it calls the Western Wall or Kotel," the report said.

Taha said that "many studies" published by Jewish experts "have
affirmed there is no archeological evidence that the Temple Mount was
built during the period of King Solomon."

He added that "no Muslim or Arab or Palestinian has the right to
give up one stone of Al-Buraq or other religious sites."

The Western Wall and Temple Mount complex have long been a violent
flashpoint between Jews and Muslims. In recent years, Palestinians who
want East Jerusalem to be their future capital have tried to undermine
Jewish religious and historical claims to the city.

Israelis said Taha's report contained lies that will only serve to
undermine the fragile peace process.

"The falsification of history, as done in the report ... is a
serious stain on the Palestinian Authority," Geshon Baskin, a peace
activist and co-director of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and
Information wrote in a letter addressed to Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas and other leaders.

Baskin said that "even a non-professional archeologist" knows that
the stones used to build the Western Wall "are from the era of Solomon's
Temple, which was hundreds of years before Islam appeared on the world