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PA workshop spreads lies about alleged Israeli "excavations" in Jerusalem, denies existence of Jewish temples or history, Israel trying to "Judaize" city and destroy religious sites

Headline: "A workshop titled The Israeli Excavations – Seeking Illusions that Establish a Jewish City"

"The [PA] Islamic-Christian Council [for Jerusalem and the Holy Sites] and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) concluded a workshop titled The Israeli Excavations – Seeking Illusions that Establish a Jewish City…

The workshop, which was held on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019… at the [PLO] Popular National Conference of Jerusalem headquarters in El-Bireh… noted [in a statement] thatmore than 100 excavations under the occupied city have been executed since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, 22 of them [are now] active, four of them under and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, five of them under the Old City [of Jerusalem], five under the city of Silwan (sic., Silwan is not a city but a predominantly Arab neighborhood near the Old City of Jerusalem, built above ruins of ancient Jerusalem), eight at different locations, and another 57 excavations and a tunnel that penetrates [under] the Al-Aqsa Mosque (sic., Israel does not excavate under the Temple Mount; see note below).

The workshop also warned in a joint press statement of the [Islamic-Christian] Council and the OIC… against the danger in building a huge new Jewish cemetery under the ancient cemetery that spreads from the Mount of Olives to the town of Silwan… whose area is more than 1,600 sq. m. at a depth of 50 meters, and which will contain more than 23,000 graves (PMW could find no mention of such a plan; apparently refers to plan for an underground cemetery in the Givat Shaul neighborhood far from the Old City –Ed.)…

The workshop presented the excavations under the Al-Aqsa Mosque, including: the excavations south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and particularly behind the mosque, the women's mosque, and the Islamic Museum… and also the excavations south-west of the mosque, whose length reaches approximately 80 meters… and the largest excavation, which is the western tunnel, due to which there was the tunnel uprising in 1996 (refers to the Western Wall Tunnel Intifada; see note below –Ed.)… and the latest excavation which is the Pilgrimage Route (refers to an archaeological site; see note below –Ed.), which spreads 700 meters from the City of David in Silwan to the Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., Western Wall of the Temple Mount).

Secretary-General of the Islamic-Christian Council for Jerusalem [and Fatah Revolutionary Council member] Dr. Hanna Issa, OIC Representative in the State of Palestine Ahmed Al-Ruweidi, Secretary-General of the Popular National Conference of Jerusalem General Bilal Al-Natsheh, Muslim Chairman of the Islamic-Christian Council [PA] Mufti Muhammad Hussein, PLO Executive Committee member [and PA Minister of Jerusalem Affairs] Adnan Al-Husseini, Deputy Jerusalem District Governor Mr. Abdallah Siyam, Head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jifna Father George Awad… and Deputy Director-General of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Department Sheikh Najeh Bakirat spoke at the workshop.

The [workshop's] statement noted that the workshop is part of the Islamic-Christian activity, with the participation of a group of experts on excavations, and its goal is to determine the danger of the excavations under the Old [City of] Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque… and to emphasize that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine and the Islamic-Christian existence within it, to expose and document the Israeli violations against the city and the holy sites within it, to brief the states of the Arab and Islamic world on what is happening within the walls of the holy city [of Jerusalem], and also to demand international protection and support for the city, and to help the residents of Jerusalem to stand firm in their city in the face of the occupation's arsenal and its steps.

The statement explained that the Israeli occupation state is committing different acts in order to take over Jerusalem in a number of ways and modi operandi, through international decisions, by internal legislation, demographic and geographic change, and imposing facts on the ground in the holy city. Andamong these acts of Judaization: emptying the city of its residents through ongoing attempts by the Israeli occupation authorities to uproot the historical Islamic Arab identity from the city, and imposing a new and foreign character, which is the Jewish character.

It should be noted that the Israeli occupation government is continuing its excavations in an attempt to find proof on the ground, or remnants of proof, of the alleged First and Second Temples, and therefore the Judaizing excavations have focused around the mosque from the west, and the near surroundings from the south… where the occupation authorities have begun – after East Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Old City fell under occupation – Judaizing excavations, the first of which was the destruction of the Mughrabi neighborhood west of the Al-Aqsa Mosque… and at the end of 1967 and the beginning of 1968 they began excavations south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which have reached a depth of 14 meters and exposed the remains of the Umayyad palaces… However,all of these attempts, and those that came after them until now, have not succeed in finding any sign of the Israeli claims(sic., plenty of archeological evidence of the historical Jewish presence in Jerusalem has been found).

Secretary-General of the Islamic-Christian Council for Jerusalem and the Holy Sites Hanna Issa explained that the gravest thing about [US] President [Donald] Trump’s decision on Dec. 6, 2017, is not just the transfer of the capital (Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; see note below -Ed.), but the recognition of Jerusalem as Jewish, and from this a denial of Christian and Islamic existence in it, and the destruction of the Via Dolorosa, in addition to the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.He explained that what the occupation is doing under Jerusalem is the construction of an entire city under the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

He noted that there are 29 settlements in Jerusalem, 15 of them in the eastern part of the city and the rest in the western part, while around Jerusalem there are 43 settlements, in an area of 46,000 dunams (1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters), whose goal is to change the character of Jerusalem through Judaizing excavations that are taking place at full throttle, and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque there are now 105 Jewish synagogues."


[Hamsa Samaa, independent news agency, Dec. 12, 2019]

Claims that Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem are endangered by excavations, including excavations under the Temple Mount - The PA regularly claims that Israeli archaeological excavations in Jerusalem endanger Arab residents and their neighborhoods, and that Israel excavates under the Temple Mount, thereby endangering the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Regarding the Temple Mount claim, the Israeli daily Haaretz has reported that the excavations do not reach beneath the mosque: "Despite complaints from the Islamic Movement and Palestinian groups, not a single dig penetrates beneath the [Temple] Mount." [Haaretz, May 24, 2016] As for claims that Israeli excavations endanger Arab residents of Jerusalem and their neighborhoods, and particularly of Silwan – a predominantly Arab neighborhood near the Old City of Jerusalem, built above the ruins of ancient Jerusalem – the Israeli Supreme Court has rejected several such petitions. These petitions targeted excavations in the City of David archaeological site, which have been conducted for around 50 years and unearthed a multitude of artifacts, proving the Jewish presence in the city from the First Temple period that began in approximately 1000 BCE. Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edna Arbel responded to one petition (High Court of Justice file 9252/080) against the excavations by saying: “The [Arab] petitioners did not present any evidence that would substantiate a connection between the excavations and the damages that were allegedly caused to their homes… It had been made clear that the excavation work… was being done under the supervision and accompaniment of professionals.” In a separate ruling (High Court of Justice file 1308/08), Arbel said: “Notwithstanding the claims of the petitioners, it was explained that the work is being done under professional engineering supervision and as part of an approved construction plan… The work is performed with the accompaniment and supervision of professionals, not as the petitioners claim, and it is clear that these professionals are not only concerned about the completion of the work… but also are aware of their obligation to make sure the work is done in a way that will not harm the petitioners, their family members, or their property.” According to reports, many Arab residents of Silwan even worked on the excavations until threats from the PA and Hamas forced them to stop. Source:

The Western Wall Tunnel Intifada - Three days of PA terror attacks on Israeli civilians and military in September 1996, to protest Israel's opening an excavated tunnel adjacent to the base of the Temple Mount. The tunnel is an underground continuation of what is exposed today of the Western Wall. The terror was led by Arafat's security services.

Pilgrimage Road – US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, US Envoy Jason Greenblatt, and US Senator Lindsey Graham took part in the inauguration ceremony of the Pilgrimage Road underground archaeological site, located south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, on June 30, 2019. The excavated road was used by Jewish pilgrims visiting the Second Temple around the first century CE, and the Arab neighborhood of Silwan has since been built above it.

The Al-Buraq Wall - Islam's Prophet Muhammad is said to have ridden during his Night Journey from Mecca to "al aqsa mosque", i.e., "the farthest mosque" (Quran, Sura 17), and there tied his miraculous flying steed named Al-Buraq to a "stone" or a "rock." (Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Book 47, Hadith 3424). In the 1920's, Arab Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini decided to identify the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem as that "rock" or "stone," and since then Muslims refer to the Western Wall as the "Al-Buraq Wall."

Muhammad Hussein also holds the position of Palestinian Supreme Fatwa Council Chairman.

Adnan Al-Husseini also holds the position of head of the PLO Department of Jerusalem Affairs.

US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel - On Dec. 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump added that the final borders of Jerusalem will be determined during negotiations. The US embassy was transferred from Tel Aviv and opened in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, the anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence in 1948 according to the Gregorian calendar.