It's Judaism's holiest site — but reporters are being told not to call it by its Jewish name.
The Palestine Liberation Organization has issued an advisory to the international media expressing “concern” over reporters’ widespread use of the term “Temple Mount” which it called “inaccurate” when referring to the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in the Jewish faith.
Instead, it suggested reporters use the term the “Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound.”
The official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA Saturday reported on the advisory which was issued on Wednesday by the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department.
“All international media representatives are advised to adhere to international law and correct any other existing terminology used,” read the statement. “The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is not a disputed territory and all other terms, therefore, are null and void.”
A general view taken from the Mount of Olives promenade overlooking the Temple Mount compound with The Dome of the Rock on October 31, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Supporters of Israel - and even some journalists - have contended that Palestinian officials, including from Hamas, have tried to hide information and intimidate reporters in an effort to secure more favorable coverage.
The pro-Israel media watchdog, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), called the PLO advisory the latest attempt “to erase the perception among the public of Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and to Jerusalem.”
“It remains to be seen which international media outlets will dutifully follow these marching orders,” CAMERA sarcastically noted.
The PLO media advisory did not once refer to the Jewish connection to the site. The Temple Mount is believed to be where both the First and Second Temples once stood, and Jews worldwide pray in its direction.
“Sacred to approximately 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, and a symbol for all Palestinians, the Mosque has been under exclusive Muslim sovereignty and control since the construction of the Dome of the Rock in 692 CE,” the PLO office explained.
“Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound is located in East-Jerusalem, an internationally recognized part of the Occupied State of Palestine,” the PLO wrote. “Today, many settler leaders, with the support of the Israeli government, continue to incite against this sacred site, and consequently provoke Palestinian fears and anger.”
Also absent from the advisory was any mention of Palestinians throwing rocks and firecrackers from inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque at Israeli police as documented in video posted of clashes last week.
During the summer hostilities, the Foreign Press Association issued a protest about harassment and threats international journalists working in Gaza faced. The use of reporters as human shields was documented when Palestinian terrorists were seen launching rockets next to live network television positions.
The PLO advisory came one week after the shooting of Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a prominent advocate for the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount who was shot at point-blank range by a Palestinian gunman.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a condolence letter to the family of the gunman, Mu’taz Hijazi who was killed in a subsequent shootout with Israeli police, praising him as a “martyr” who was “defending the rights of our people and its holy places.”