Fatah and PLO officials lashed out at the new secretary-general of the UN, António Guterres, for remarks he made on January 28, 2017 to Israeli Radio. Guterres said that there is no doubt Jerusalem is holy to all three major monotheistic religions today, but it is "completely clear that the temple which was demolished by the Romans was a Jewish temple."
The Palestinian officials said that Guterres's remarks encourage Israel to step up its measures against Jerusalem, constitute direct aggression against the Palestinian people's rights in the city, and deal a blow to international efforts for peace. They also undermine the UN's credibility and contradict truth, history and UNESCO's resolution from October 2016 stating that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is a Muslim site.
'Omar Al-Ghoul, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida who was an advisor to former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad, published a scathing article in which he demanded that Guterres apologize to the Palestinian people for the injustice of his remarks. Jerusalem and all of Palestine, from the river to the sea, belong to the Palestinian people, he wrote, and the Jews have no historical connection to them. He added that Jerusalem belongs to the Muslims and Christians alone, and that the Temple of Solomon never existed in Palestine.
The following are excerpts from his article and from other Palestinian responses to Guterres's remarks.
António Guterres (image: english.alarabiya.net)
Fatah, PLO Officials: Secretary-General's Comments Deal A Blow To UN's Credibility, Encourage Terrorism Against Palestinians
PLO Executive Committee member Ahmed Majdalani called the UN secretary-general's statements "a severe breach of policy and a blow to the UN's credibility as an international body [reflecting] bias towards an occupying force." He added: "The secretary-general should clarify his remarks, which undermine international efforts for peace and give the occupation a green light to step up its measures against Jerusalem... The UN secretary-general appears to be uninformed and not updated in the field in which he engages, and we remind him of the resolution by UNESCO, which considers the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the entire Haram Al-Sharif [i.e., Temple Mount] to be a sacred Islamic site designated for worship."
Fatah Revolutionary Committee deputy secretary Fayez Abu 'Aita called the secretary-general's statements "direct aggression against the Palestinian people's rights in Jerusalem and [a show of] bias towards the occupation by legitimizing and empowering the illegal Israeli presence in Jerusalem." He added that they "encourage Israel to use more terrorism against the Palestinian people, to attack the sites sacred to Islam and to Christianity, and to continue expanding settlement construction until the two-state principle is eliminated."
Columnist In PA Daily: Jerusalem And All Of Palestine, From The River To The Sea, Is Muslim Land
'Omar Al-Ghoul, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and advisor to PA prime minister Salam Fayyad during the latter's term in office, harshly condemned Guterres: "The world expressed great optimism at Mr. António Guterres's recent appointment as UN secretary-general, especially in light of his promise to reform this leading international institution in order to develop it and in order for it to be able to follow events around the world more quickly and vitally. But that optimism is apparently misplaced, since someone who wants to reform and awaken the international organization does not deviate from the UN Charter, or from its resolutions and rules, but must instead be wiser and bolder when taking political positions, instead of making offhand comments according to whims and narrow interests.
"António Guterres made a clear and obvious mistake towards peace and the political process on the Israeli-Palestinian track when he stated... that he believes in the connection between Jerusalem and the Jews. The secretary-general argued, contradicting the UNESCO resolution, history and facts, that in his opinion – which deviates from the truth and the facts – it is as clear as the sun is clear that 'the temple which was demolished by the Romans was a Jewish temple.' Thus, the new secretary-general fell into the trap of his own unbalanced view, because the issue of Jerusalem and the Palestinian-Israeli blood feud are not resolved by personal opinions. [Mr. Secretary-General,] your personal opinion is yours alone and not a binding position held by the UN or by the nations of the world. You, as secretary-general, must not involve the UN in positions that it does not need and that do not correspond with its regulations and resolutions. Furthermore, you have no right to err in flattering Israel due to considerations easily understood by any observer – because your remarks do not correspond to history or to the existing data."
Jerusalem Belongs To The Muslims And Christians, Not To The Jews; Guterres Must Apologize Immediately To The Palestinian People And Leadership
"If you are interested in history, and committed to it, Mr. António, [then you should know that] Jerusalem and all of Palestine from the river to the sea, belong to the Palestinian people, and their history is its history. The establishment of Israel based on the UN Partition [Plan for Palestine,] Resolution 181, adopted in November 1947, and the Palestinian people's consent to peace and the two-state solution on the basis of the June 1967 borders, absolutely do not mean that the history of Palestine changes. Jerusalem is Arab-Palestinian and belongs to the Muslims and the Christians, and not to the Jews – although this does not mean that Jews should be prevented from visiting it. The so-called 'Western Wall' is actually the 'Al-Buraq Wall' [Al-Buraq is the winged horse on which Muhammad ascended to Heaven]. Solomon's Temple does not exists and never existed in Palestine. The Israelis have been excavating across the entire land for nearly a century since fully occupying it in June 1967 and have found nothing related to Judaism in all of Palestine, not just in Jerusalem.
"So on what grounds do you voluntarily express incorrect positions that have no connection to reality? What is your interest in doing so? Are you serving the peace process, or entangling and threatening it? Additionally, you express irresponsible views, such as that you 'do not intend to take the reins of initiative in any political process between the Palestinians and Israelis.' Why? What is your role as UN secretary-general? Are you the U.S., or do you speak for it? Does this not constitute conspiring with the racist Israeli ethnic-cleansing state and giving it a green light to continue its imperialist settlements? Is this the reform you want to bring to the UN?
"This grave injustice committed by the new UN secretary-general in the matter of the Palestinian-Arab Islamic-Christian and human Jerusalem means that he must immediately apologize to the Palestinian people and leadership, and rectify this matter by issuing a clear, direct, and explicit position in line with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – UNESCO, which issued two resolutions on this matter in October 2016.
"You may issue no personal decisions on your own, because ever since your appointment as UN secretary-general, you represent not yourself but the entire UN, including its peoples, member states, resolutions, treaties, and regulations. Therefore, you are not authorized to say whatever you think or whatever you, or the deviant countries you flatter, wish you to say – particularly not Israel and its ally the U.S.
"Have you have the courage to acknowledge [that this is what you have done] and to correct this shameful injustice?"