Western Wall
Western Wall Hodaya Kelman/TPS

Mahmoud Al-Habbash, president of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) Islamic courts and an adviser on religious affairs to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said on Sunday that "the Al-Aqsa Mosque on its entire territory, including the Western Wall, is a pure Islamic sanctuary, and non-Muslims have no right to it."

The remarks were made in response to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's remarks at a cabinet meeting in which he stated that Israel is the sovereign over Jerusalem and that it rejects any foreign interference in its policies.

Habbash added that "the occupied state has no religious, historical or legal legitimacy in the Holy City and is an illegal colonialist occupying power that acts in a way of terror and crime against the Palestinian people and the holy places."

He continued, "The occupation is the real terrorism and Israel is acting using organized terrorism and in the most criminal ways, and therefore a fight against the occupation is a legitimate right."

Habbash is known for his inciting statements against Israel. In 2018, he compared Israel’s restrictions on access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to Nazi methods.

In 2017, he blasted the security measures taken by Israel following a terror attack on the Temple Mount, saying they constitute a blatant violation of the conventions and decisions of international institutions regarding the status of Jerusalem and its holy sites.

Also that year, Habbash gave a sermon which was attended by Abbas himself, during which he warned the US against moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Doing so, Habbash said at the time, would be a “declaration of war”.