Jpost – Arab-Israeli Conflict
Palestinian officials criticized United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday for saying that a Jewish temple existed atop the Temple Mount.
“[Gueterres] ignored UNESCO’s decision that considered the Al-Aksa Mosque of pure Islamic heritage,” Adnan al-Husseini, Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Affairs minister told Xinhua, a Chinese news outlet, clarifying that the UN secretary-general “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs, overstepped his role as secretary general, and…must issue an apology to the Palestinian people.”
Speaking to Israel Radio on Friday, Guterres reportedly said that it is “completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple.”
The new UN chief added that there is “no doubt” that Jerusalem is holy to all three of the major monotheistic religions. He also said, according to Israel Radio, that he had no intention of pushing for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, though he believes in the two-state solution and would assist in that goal if asked.
Ahmad Majdalani, a Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member, said that the statements “undermine the trustworthiness of the UN as a body that should support occupied peoples.”
“It appears that the secretary general of the United Nations lacks culture and knowledge in his own specialization,” Majdalani, who also serves as an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, told Xinhua, calling on the UN secretary-general to clarify his position “that gives a green light to the occupation to undertake more measures against Jerusalem.”
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee approved a resolution in October that made no mention of Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, exclusively referring to the holy site as its is known in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif.
Fayez Abu Eitah, the secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said that Gueterres’s statements are unacceptable politically and morally.
“[The statements] are a direct attack on the Palestinian people’s right in the holy city, biased in favor of the site of occupation, and akin to granting legitimacy to Israel’s illegal presence in Jerusalem,” Abu Eitah told official PA television.
Moreover, the Palestinian representative to UNESCO Mounir Anastasia rejected Guterres’s statements, which he argued hold no legal significance, while saying that that the Temple Mount is holy for all three Semitic religions, according to official PA radio.
Disputes over the Temple Mount have been steeped in the Israeli-Palestinian for tens of years.
Tovah Lazaroff and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.