As Jews Mourn Destruction of Temples, Palestinian Authority Denies They Ever Existed
As Jews around the world mourned the destruction of the ancient Jewish temples on Sunday with the observance of Tisha B’Av, Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash told Israel’s NRG that an Israelite temple never stood atop the Temple Mount.
“The Al-Aqsa Mosque is located atop the Temple Mount, and not the Temple. Look for your Holy Temple in another place,” said Al-Habbash.
Al-Habbash also assailed Jewish visitors who visited the holy site on Sunday, saying that “there is no room for religious pluralism” on the Temple Mount.
Al-Habbash added that, “this is a holy site for Islam, and only for Islam. Al-Aqsa Mosque is a Muslim site, and we do not recognize [as legitimate] any of the stories about the Temple.”
In fact, the entire platform, known as the Temple Mount, atop which the Al-Aqsa Mosque now stands was built by Herod the Great and previously housed two Jewish Temples: the First Temple built by Solomon in 957 BCE, and the Second Temple built by the prophet Ezra in 538 BCE and improved by King Herod.
Al-Habbash claimed that the PA’s rejection of Jewish history on the Temple Mount was political and not religious. “We reject the Israeli claim that once there stood a Holy Temple in the place of the Aqsa Mosque,” he said. “If you open up the question of the Temple, you are opening up a religious war, ” he added.
“We do not look at this issue as a religious issue, but only as a political conflict,” he said. “The historical claims are not the issue. The occupation is the problem. We are speaking of a situation where one state has occupied another state.”
He added that the Palestinian Authority “will not allow any Israeli presence in the Holy Mosque. This is taboo for us… Not a single Israeli has the right to pray atop the Aqsa Mosque grounds. This is a mosque and we do not recognize [anyone else’s] rule over this place.”
Al-Habbash’s assertions were by no means novel or unique for the Palestinian Authority. Their long-held position, repeated by numerous officials, has been that Judaism has no historical or religious claim to the Temple Mount and that the history of the Jewish temples is mythical.