As Jews around the world mourned the destruction of the ancient Jewish temples on Sunday with the observance of Tisha B’Av, Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash told Israel’s NRG that a Bais Hamikdosh never stood atop the Har Habayis.
“The Al-Aqsa Mosque is located atop the Temple Mount, and not the Temple. Look for your Holy Temple in another place,” said Al-Habbash.
Al-Habbash also assailed Jewish visitors who visited the site on Sunday, saying that “there is no room for religious pluralism” on the Har Habayis.
Al-Habbash added that, “this is a holy site for Islam, and only for Islam. Al-Aqsa Mosque is a Muslim site, and we do not recognize [as legitimate] any of the stories about the Temple.”
Al-Habbash claimed that the PA’s rejection of Jewish history on the Har Habayis was political and not religious. “We reject the Israeli claim that once there stood a Holy Temple in the place of the Aqsa Mosque,” he said. “If you open up the question of the Temple, you are opening up a religious war, ” he added.
“We do not look at this issue as a religious issue, but only as a political conflict,” he said. “The historical claims are not the issue. The occupation is the problem. We are speaking of a situation where one state has occupied another state.”
He added that the Palestinian Authority “will not allow any Israeli presence in the Holy Mosque. This is taboo for us… Not a single Israeli has the right to pray atop the Aqsa Mosque grounds. This is a mosque and we do not recognize [anyone else’s] rule over this place.”