TEL AVIV – The Western Wall should always remain under Muslim control and we will not give a single millimeter to the Israelis, the Palestinian Authority’s supreme Sharia judge and senior adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday, contradicting earlier remarks made by a PA official who acknowledged that the Wall is one of Judaism’s holiest sites and as such should remain in Jewish hands.
“The al-Buraq wall is an integral part of the Islamic faith and religion, and is associated with the Prophet Muhammad,” Mahmoud al-Habash said in a sermon broadcast on official Palestinian Authority TV, using the Islamic name for the Western Wall.
“It is an Islamic Waqf (endowment) that can never be for non-Muslims. It cannot be under the sovereignty of non-Muslims. … The al-Buraq wall belongs to us and cannot be conceded,” he added.
“We cannot possibly relinquish a single millimeter, a single stone, a single micromillimeter of the Al-Buraq Wall and of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
The Western Wall is the last remaining outer wall of the Temple Mount complex and is the holiest place for Jews to pray. Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad tied al-Buraq, his winged horse, to the wall when he made his journey from Mecca to Jerusalem.
Habash’s remarks came days after senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub said on Israeli TV that the wall is a Jewish holy site and as such must remain under Jewish sovereignty.
“We understand [the wall is] a holy place to the Jews. In the end, it must remain under Jewish sovereignty. We have no argument about that. This is a Jewish holy place,” Rajoub told Channel 2 TV in Hebrew.
Rajoub, who is also head of the Palestinian Football Association, was praising U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians and commenting on Trump’s visit last month to Israel and the West Bank.
Rajoub, who has in the past stated that he is proud he served time in an Israeli jail for lobbing a grenade at a bus full of IDF soldiers in 1970, later tried to deny he ever made such a statement. In a Facebook post, he declared that his remarks were mistranslated, and that he had not referred to Israeli sovereignty.
Last month, Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall, but did so as a private visit. Last week, U.S. envoy to the UN Nikki Haley visited the wall in what was also billed as a private visit.