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June 7, 2017 2:09 pm

PA Leader Rajoub Denies Recognizing Jewish Sovereignty Over Western Wall in Israeli TV Interview

avatar by Ben Cohen

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Palestinian Authority official Jibril Rajoub. Photo: Screenshot.

Leading Palestinian Authority (PA) figure Jibril Rajoub has rapidly walked back comments he recently made on Israeli television in which he recognized Jewish sovereignty over the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Rajoub — the secretary of the central committee of the PA’s ruling Fatah faction who recently led a campaign to ban Israel from world soccer in his capacity as head of the Palestine Football Federation — told Israel’s Channel 2 that the Palestinians understand that the Western Wall was “holy for the Jews” and that it should be “under Jewish sovereignty.”

“We have no argument with that,” Rajoub said.

But the Israeli watchdog Palestinian Media Watch highlighted a later post on Rajoub’s Facebook page in which he denied expressing that view.

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“What I said was that when [US President Donald] Trump visited the Al-Buraq Wall [the Muslim term for the Western Wall], which is holy to the Jews, he did not agree that any Israeli would accompany him, and that this constitutes a message that he does not recognize the legitimacy of your [Israel’s] sovereignty over the site,” Rajoub wrote. “That is all that I said on Channel 2, and I did not mention the words ‘sovereignty’ or ‘Israel’ at all.”

“Ignore the dogs, because despite the barking, the convoy will definitely pass,” Rajoub ended, invoking an old Arabic proverb.

The glaring contradiction between Rajoub’s two statements on Jerusalem was “yet another example of the duplicity of the Palestinian leadership,” PMW commented.

In a commentary published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), analyst Yoni Ben Menachem explained Rajoub’s comments on Israeli TV as a bid to eventually take the place of aging current PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Rajoub directed his comments to the Israeli leaders and President Trump to show that he was ‘moderate’ and worthy of succeeding Mahmoud Abbas,” Ben Menachem wrote. “Senior Fatah officials, including Rajoub’s competitors, believe that the path to the PA leadership goes through Jerusalem and Washington.”

Currently, no one can be chosen to succeed the 82-year-old Abbas without elections, which are now impossible because of the West Bank-Gaza Strip split between Fatah and its Islamist rival Hamas, Ben Menachem observed.

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