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5
Jun
2017

Question of the Day: Did Jibril Rajoub say on Israeli TV that the Kotel should be under Jewish control?


Did senior Fatah leader Jibril Rajoub say on Israeli TV that the Western Wall should be under Jewish sovereignty?

Pinhas InbariYes. There may be a theological break among Palestinians regarding the Islamic al-Buraq site where, according to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammed tied his steed on his “night journey” between Mecca and “the farthest mosque.”

If so, Rajoub reflects the belief that the Western Wall is part of the Jewish Temple, and not part of al-Aqsa. It appears to be recognition of Jewish history in Jerusalem.

What are the implications of Rajoub’s statement?

First, the UNESCO resolution on the lack of Jewish ties to Jerusalem is nullified by the Palestinians themselves.

And if the Western Wall will be part of the final agreement with Israel, as projected by Rajoub, it contradicts the Palestinian demand for east Jerusalem and a return to the 1967 line.


Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub astonished people over the weekend when he told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that the Western Wall belongs to the Jews, and that in the permanent settlement it will have to be part of Israel. He also called for a return to the status quo arrangements that were in practice from the days of Moshe Dayan, and that too is out of the ordinary.

Hamas immediately attacked with harsh words, but so far. the reactions in Fatah have been weak to nonexistent.

It still is not clear what is behind Rajoub’s statements. He immediately denied them, saying they had been “misunderstood.” Yet, indeed, that is exactly what he said.

Assuming that his words were intended, they are several explanations and implications:

  1. There may be a theological break among Palestinians regarding the Islamic al-Buraq site where, according to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammed tied his steed on his “night journey” between Mecca and “the farthest mosque.”
  1. If so, Rajoub reflects the belief that the Western Wall is part of the Jewish Temple, and not part of al-Aqsa. It appears to be recognition of Jewish history in Jerusalem.
  2. The UNESCO resolutions on the lack of Jewish ties to Jerusalem are nullified by the Palestinians themselves.
  3. If the Western Wall will be part of the final agreement with Israel, as projected by Rajoub, it contradicts the Palestinian demand for east Jerusalem and a return to the 1967 line.
  4. For the first time, a senior Palestinian official has recognized the status quo arrangements in place since 1967. That is, while the Al-Aqsa compound is a prayer venue for Muslims only, it is permissible for Jews to go up on the Mount, and Israel is responsible for security. So far, the Palestinians have not recognized these status quo arrangements; from their standpoint the status quo dates back to before 1967 – meaning that Jews are forbidden to go up on the Mount, and the Western Wall belongs to the Waqf.
  5. It has also been reported that the Waqf wants to return to the status quo arrangements from before Sharon’s tour on the Mount in 2000 and the upheavals that Jerusalem, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority have been undergoing ever since.

For now, more is unclear than clear, and when we know more – we will report on it.

About Pinhas Inbari

Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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