TEL AVIV – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement last Tuesday accused Vice President Mike Pence of “defiling” the Western Wall by his visit to the holy site earlier that day.
“Pence defiles the Al-Buraq [Wall] plaza,” a post on the Facebook page of the Fatah Commission of Information, Culture and Ideology read.
The Al-Buraq Wall is the name given by Palestinians to the Western Wall, marking the spot Muslims say the Prophet Muhammad is said to have tied his flying steed named Al-Buraq before his ascension to heaven.
The post continued by saying Pence’s presence had caused the “occupation forces” – Israel’s security apparatus – to “reinforce their presence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” according to a translation by Israeli watchdog Palestinian Media Watch.
Pence and his wife on Tuesday visited the Western Wall a few hours before he was due to leave the country.
Pence, who said a prayer and placed a note in the wall, said he felt “inspired” to be there.
In the past year, both U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and President Donald Trump both broke from the unofficial American policy of not visiting the site.
Pence is not the only person to have been accused of “defiling” Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Abbas himself called on Palestinians to prevent Jews “in any way” from “defiling our holy places” in a speech from 2014, PMW reported. The speech has been rebroadcast several times since then, most recently this past December prior to Pence’s visit.
Abbas’ Fatah deputy this week dismissed years of American aid amounting to several billion dollars with the declaration that the U.S. has never given anything of “substance” to the Palestinians and added “nothing good will come from them.”
“Recently we were forced to review all of our relations with the American administrations in recent years, and not just the Trump administration. We assessed that nothing good will come from them for the Palestinian people and the nation, and this is completely clear,” said Aloul in an interview with the London-based Pan-Arab daily Al Quds Al Arabi published Saturday.
He added “we see that they have not given the Palestinians anything of substance” and that the Americans have supported the “enemy that is occupying [our] lands.”
President Donald Trump’s December recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel sparked outrage among the Palestinians, with Abbas severing ties with Washington and claiming that the U.S. could no longer be a viable broker in the peace process.
“Let them [the U.S.] not do us a favor by paying us money. … We do not want anyone to pay us,” Abbas said after Trump threatened in a tweet to cut aid. “May ruin come upon your house,” he continued, using a popular Arabic epithet to curse Trump.
Aloul was asked if, looking back, it would have been wiser to advise Abbas not to curse the president.
On the contrary, Aloul said, “maybe I would have recommended to him to use other stronger expressions. I don’t know why the expression is being focused upon. It expresses the feelings and level of disappointment.”
Since 1994, Washington has paid out more than $5.2 billion to Ramallah. Last year, $700 million was given to the Palestinians.
Aloul also said that the PA was not preventing “resistance or an intifada.” Fatah members, he said, were leading a “popular uprising” as part of Palestinian “strategy.” Last week’s meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Council, he said, “emphasized that it is necessary to encourage the popular resistance against the Israeli violations.”
“It is necessary to strengthen the popular resistance so the occupation will become expensive for Israel,” Aloul concluded.