Senior Palestinian officials blasted the United Nations’ new secretary general on Sunday for acknowledging that a Jewish temple once stood on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
In remarks commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, newly installed Secretary General António Guterres traced the history of anti-Semitism, beginning when “Imperial Rome not only destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, but also made Jews pariahs in many ways.” A recording of his remarks is embedded below.
Speaking to Israel Radio on Friday, Gutteres added, “no one can deny the fact that Jerusalem is holy to three religions today.”
However, Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority’s minister for Jerusalem affairs, told China’s Xinhua news agency that Guterres “neglected the UNESCO resolutions, which clearly said that the al-Aqsa Mosque is purely an Islamic heritage.”
Husseini called Guterres’ remarks “a violation to all human, diplomatic and legal rules and laws and a violation to his position as the secretary general,” and demanded that Guterres “apologize to the Palestinian people for his remarks.”
Husseini was referring to two Arab-sponsored resolutions passed in October by UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency, which denied the well-documented, centuries-old Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. The resolutions were widely condemned at the time, including by then-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and were praised by the terrorist group Hamas as a “victory for the Palestinian people.” Their exclusionary language contrasted with a number of recent archaeological finds, including an inscription on the 10th century mosque near Hebron, confirming the Temple Mount’s Jewish history.
Ahmed Majdalani, an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said in an emailed press statement that Guterres’ comments are “a strike to the credibility of the UN as a global organization that should stay to the side of the occupied people and be against the power of the occupation.”
“[It] seems the new UN secretary general is lacking trust and he doesn’t understand his position,” Majdalani claimed.
The passage of the UNESCO resolutions were followed in December with the adoption [of UN Security Council resolution 2334, which, among other things, denounced Israeli rule over parts of Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
In 2015, Brown University historian Michael Satlow said that the existence of a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount is “as historically certain a fact as one can get.” However, efforts to erase or cast doubt on the connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish faith have led many Palestinians to “increasingly [express] doubt that the temples ever existed,” The New York Times reported that same year. David Hazony, editor of The Tower, wrote in 2007 that “Palestinian leaders, writers, and scholars have embarked on a campaign of intellectual erasure […] aimed at undermining the Jewish claim to any part of the land.”
[Photo: UN ]