The Palestinian Authority’s Religious Affairs Minister says there will be no peace agreement with Israel unless all territories Israel captured in 1967, including the Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site – are moved under the sovereignty of a future Palestinian state.
“Every centimeter that was occupied in 1967 is part of the Palestinian state, including the blessed Al Aqsa mosque, including the Buraq Wall,” Minister Mahmoud al-Habash told Israel’s Channel 10 News on Monday night, using the Muslim name for the Western Wall.
“There will not be peace without Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. There will not be peace without an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967. Every piece of land that Israel occupied in 1967 is Palestinian land that belongs to the state of Palestine,” Habash said.
Asked what about Jews who wish to pray at their holiest site, Habash said, “Welcome. Welcome. Without any problem, welcome. There will not be any limitations on freedom of worship. Worship is one thing, and politics are another.”
Emphasizing his point, Habash said that “without a doubt,” the site would be part of a Palestinian state.
Secretary of State John Kerry is spearheading negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that are currently focused on achieving a nonbinding framework agreement that outlines parameters for a final arrangement.
“The Palestinians want the document to note that Jerusalem is their intended future capital, while Netanyahu has refused any mention of Palestinian claims to the city at all,” the Times of Israel reported.
Israelis may not be comforted by the religious affairs minister’s assurances over freedom of worship. There have been several cases of Palestinian violence aimed at Jewish holy sites, including shooting and burning attacks at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus and Rachel’s Tomb outside Bethlehem.
The Western Wall is believed to be the last surviving remnant of the wall that once surrounded the Second Temple in Jerusalem’s Old City, and outside the Temple Mount itself is the holiest site in the Jewish faith.