JERUSALEM – An op-ed piece that appeared in a Palestinian paper says the new UN Secretary General “sinned” when he said last week that the Jerusalem Temple destroyed by the Romans was a Jewish temple and nobody can deny Judaism’s ties with Jerusalem.
On Sunday last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (pictured) stated that it is “clear … the Temple of Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Romans was a Jewish temple.” In an interview with Israel Radio, Guterres also said that “Jerusalem is today a holy city for three religions. These are the facts that nobody can deny.”
He was speaking during an interview that discussed the UNESCO resolution in October that dealt with the Old City of Jerusalem without mentioning Jewish ties to the city.
The comments by Guterres have led to sharp criticism by the Palestinian Authority, which persistently denies that the Jews have any claims to the Old City and the remains of the Temple, or indeed that a Jewish temple ever existed in Jerusalem.
The Palestinians insist that Judaism has no connection to Jerusalem despite the overwhelming amount of archaeological proof showing otherwise.
An opinion piece appearing the next day in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and translated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) said, “Antonio Guterres clearly and explicitly sinned against peace and the Palestinian-Israeli political agreement when he claimed … that he ‘believes in the connection between Jerusalem and the Jews.'”
The writer reiterated the Palestinian stance that Jerusalem belongs only to Muslims (and Christians), and that Israel does not have a right to exist within any borders, lecturing Guterres that “Palestine” extends “from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea”:
“Jerusalem and all of Palestine – from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea – are the land of the Palestinian people, and their history is its history. … Jerusalem is Palestinian Arab. It belongs only to the followers of Islam and Christianity, and not Judaism.”
The Palestinian Ministry of Religious Affairs also condemned the remarks by Guterres and repeated the PA’s claim that “the entire holy site of Jerusalem is a purely Islamic site, to which nobody else has any right,” according to a PMW translation.
Minister of Religious Affairs Sheikh Yusuf Ida’is stated that Guterres’ remarks “misconstrue the historical facts,” according to a piece in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida that appeared a day after the interview was broadcast.
The comments by the secretary-general were “severe violations” according to Palestinian mufti Muhammad Hussein. Two days after the interview, a piece in the PA paper quoted the mufti as saying, “The Al-Aqsa Mosque is a purely Islamic mosque and no one but the Muslims has a right to it, and only they are allowed to intervene in its affairs.”
According to the NGO Palestinian Media Watch, PA Minister of Religious Affairs Sheikh Yusuf Ida’is demanded that Guterres “apologize” for his remarks.