January 28, 2001
PA mufti denies 'Post' report on Temple Mount
By Jerusalem Post Staff and Itim
JERUSALEM (January 28) - Palestinian Authority Mufti Ikrima Sabri on Friday denied a report in that day's The Jerusalem Post that the Supreme Moslem Council had stated in a 1930 pamphlet that the Jews had an undisputable historic connection with the Temple Mount.
According to Itim, Sabri said the report was untrue and taken out of context.
The Post article quoted an English-language guide for tourists, published in 1930 by the Supreme Moslem Council, which states: "The site['s]... identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute," while a footnote refers the reader to Samuel II:26:25.
Sabri told Itim that the council's booklet had been published only one year after the Arab disturbances of 1929, which, he said, the Arabs called the "Burak Rebellion" (Western Wall Rebellion). Sabri claimed that, at the time, the League of Nations had decided that the Western Wall was Moslem, adding that Jews were permitted to pray there on condition they made no changes to the site; particularly not setting up tables or benches. Blowing the shofar was expressly forbidden.
Sabri also told Itim that the British-appointed Shaw Commission had come to the same conclusion and had decided that the Western Wall was part of Haram al-Sharif [the Temple Mount], and undeniably Moslem property.
Sabri told Itim that neither the League of Nations nor the Shaw Commission had mentioned the word Kotel in reference to the Western Wall, only the Arabic al-Burak. The site, he reportedly said, was one of the holiest in Islam, since it was from there that the Prophet Mohammed rose up to heaven.
Sabri added that all these developments had come about when the Supreme Moslem Council was headed by Hajj Amin al-Husseini and that it was inconceivable that Husseini had given Jews any rights at all to the Temple Mount.
Itim noted that the Arab Revolt had broken out on August 16, 1929, following an impromptu Arab demonstration organized in response to a Jewish march to the Western Wall on the previous day, Tisha Be'av. The demonstrators were also protesting the expansion of the Jewish Agency. During the protest, Jewish religious objects were destroyed near the Wall.
A few days later, gangs of armed Arabs attacked Jews in Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed, and farming settlements, killing 133 Jews and wounding 339. The Shaw Commission, headed by Sir Walter Shaw, was appointed by the British Colonial Office to investigate the riots, and it concluded that the riots had resulted from Arab fears for their political and economic rights in the face of the development of Palestine as a Jewish national home.
The commission gave the Arab leaders a slap on the wrist, and skipped over the British authorities' responsibility for the events. The League of Nations' Mandate Commission later sharply criticized the Shaw Commission.