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State Dept. Slams PA Report Denying Jewish Connection to Kotel

The State Department on Tuesday condemned a Palestinian Authority report that denies the Jewish connection to the Kotel, the Western Wall.
By David Lev
First Publish: 12/1/2010, 12:10 PM / Last Update: 12/1/2010, 4:19 PM

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The State Department on Tuesday condemned a Palestinian Authority report that denies the Jewish connection to the Kotel, the Western Wall.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters that the U.S. “strongly condemns these comments and fully rejects them as factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative. We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of delegitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land,” Crowley said. 

The spokesman added that both Israel and the PA "have to take responsibility" for making efforts to resume negotiations to reach a final status agreement, and pointed out that government-backed incitement against Israel by the PA did not meet criteria for working to achieve peace.

"Look, what we are saying again to all sides is that they both have responsibilities here," Crowley told reporters. "Both have to take the responsibility to create conditions for negotiations to resume. And when you have a senior Palestinian official who denies the historic connection that the Jewish people feel to the Western Wall, we have an obligation to speak out." 

In a report last week, Taha Al-Mutawakil, Deputy Information Minister of the Palestinian Authority, wrote that there was no historical evidence that the Western Wall was the retaining wall for the ancient Jewish Temple; instead, he wrote, it is a Muslim relic called the Al-Buraq wall, where Mohammed tied his donkey before ascending to heaven from the Temple Mount. “This wall has never been a part of what is called the Jewish Temple,” the report said. “It was Islamic tolerance which allowed the Jews to stand before it and cry over its loss.”

Jews have never claimed that the Wall is part of the actual Temple which was totally razed; it is, however, part of the original wall surrounding the Temple compound on the Temple Mount and the only original remnant that could be seen before modern archaeological digs discovered other remains. That is why Jews mourn the Temple there since its destruction in the year 70.

Jewish organizations in the U.S. had urged the government to condemn the report, among them the Orthodox Union, which sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he repudiate the PA's anti-Israel incitement.

In a statement, OU Director of Public Policy Nathan Diament said that the PA's stance was “contemptible, historically false and runs afoul of efforts to achieve peace with the State of Israel. Coming from an official arm of the Palestinian Authority it is nothing other than official incitement. It is further evidence of why Jerusalem must remain unified under a single flag that recognizes and guarantees the rights of all its citizens.”