by David Bedein
Khaled Abu Toameh, Arab Affairs correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, reported that the Palestinian Authority's chief Islamic judge, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, has formally announced that that there was no evidence to back up claims that Jews had ever lived in Jerusalem or that the Temple ever existed.
Tamimi claimed that Israeli archeologists have "admitted" that Jerusalem was never inhabited by Jews. Tamimi's statement came in response to statements made earlier this week by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who said that Jerusalem "is not a settlement," and that "the Jews built it 3,000 years ago."
"Netanyahu's claims are baseless and untrue," said Tamimi, the highest religious authority in the Palestinian Authority. "Jerusalem is an Arab and Islamic city and it always has been so."
Tamimi claimed that all excavation work conducted by Israel after 1967 has "failed to prove that Jews had a history or presence in Jerusalem or that their ostensible temple had ever existed."
He condemned Netanyahu and "all Jewish rabbis and extremist organizations" as liars because of their assertion that Jerusalem was a Jewish city. Tamimi accused Israel of distorting the facts and forging history "with the aim of erasing the Arab and Islamic character of Jerusalem." He also accused Israel of launching an "ethnic cleansing" campaign to squeeze Arabs out of the city.
"By desecrating its holy sites, expelling its Arab residents and demolishing their homes and confiscating their lands and building settlements in Jerusalem, Israel is seeking, through the use of weapons, to turn it into a Jewish city," he said. "This is a flagrant violation of all religious, legal, moral and human values."
In another development, Hamas on Wednesday rejected the political platform of the Palestinian Authority's Prime Minister, Salaam Fayad. The platform, which was published on Tuesday, pledges that the Fayad government would work toward establishing a de facto Palestinian state within two years even if no agreement was reached with Israel. The platform talks about peaceful resistance against Israeli "occupation." The two Islamic groups said in response that the only way to establish a state was through "armed struggle." They said that Fayad's plan was unrealistic and unclear, adding that it would be impossible to establish a state "under occupation."
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