The PA office claims Moslem ownership of the Western Wall by referring to the wall on its website as the Al-Boraq Wall. According to Moselm legend, the wall is the place where Mohammed tied his horse, named Boraq, before ascending to heaven.
Moslem tradition holds that Mohammed rose to heaven from the Temple Mount, though that idea is not mentioned anywhere in the Koran, the central text of the Moslem faith.
Rabbi Chaim Richman, Director of the International Department of the of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, said that the PA’s claims of Moslem ownership of the Western Wall has “far reaching implications” for Israel.
Richman said that the PA’s denial of the Jewish Temple's existence “is part of a campaign to totally eradicate, erase, and destroy all Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, Jerusalem, and the land of Israel.”
The PA contends that Israeli archeological digs near the site of the Western Wall, also commonly known as the Wailing Wall, “totally failed to find any proof that support their false claims” to the Wall.
Richman said that “Islam has for many years been waging a campaign to destroy any evidence of a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount.” He cited efforts by the PA and the Moslem Wakf (religious trust) to carry out excavations on the Temple Mount for the purpose of destroying artifacts relating to the First and Second Temples. He said that thousands of tons of archeological material has already been deliberately destroyed by the wakf.
The Holy Temple as it stood in 2nd Temple Times. [Photo: Temple Institute]
By destroying the remnants of the Jewish temples, Richman said that the PA believes that it is strengthening its hand in the final status negotiations with Israel over the status of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
“If we have no connection to the Temple Mount, then we have no connection to Jerusalem, and no right to anywhere in the land of Israel,” he added.
In an attempt to revise recent history, the PA claims that during the time of the British mandate over the Land of Israel (1917-1948), the Jews began exceeding earlier arrangements “and claimed ownership” of the Wall.
Moreover, the PA website states that after the Arab conquest of Jerusalem, “the Moslems had mercy on the Jews and let them cry at a place near that wall. The number of Jews at that time was very small, and the plaza they stood on was only four meters wide.”
The PA attributes the infamous Arab riots of 1929 to Jewish efforts to claim ownership of the Western Wall. Hundreds of Jewish civilians were killed in those riots, which were initiated by the Mufti of Jerusalem, and are in many ways similar to the Arab intifadas of 1987 and 2000.
The current intifada which began in 2000 is called the Al-Aksa Intifada. Al-Aksa is the name of the large mosque on the southern section of the Temple Mount.
Many in the PA claim that the intifada was sparked by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount. However, it is widely known that plans for the current intifada, also known by many as the Oslo War, were well in place prior to Sharon's Temple Mount visit. Some PA officials concede that the PA used Sharon's visit as a convenient pretext for launching the war.
Prior to Sharon's visit, negotiations in August, 2000 at Camp David between then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PA leader Yasser Arafat broke down when PA negotiators refused to recognize that the Jewish people have any connection to the Temple Mount. Senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat asserted at the talks that the Jews never had a Temple at the site, calling it a fabrication of history.
Richman explained, that despite the efforts of the PA and the Moslem Wakf, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount can never have the same significance for Moslems as for Jews. He pointed out that Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Bible, “and not once in the whole Koran,” the Moslem holy book.
Today, Jews are allowed to visit the Temple Mount only at very specific hours and in small numbers, and must be accompanied by Israeli Police as well as a representative of the Wakf, the Moslem body currently responsible for activity on the Temple Mount. In addition, Jewish visitors are not allowed to bow or pray anywhere on the Mount itself, and may not even bring books with Hebrew writing.