Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday hailed the Palestinian rioters on the Temple Mount, saying any blood spilled in defense of the holy site was “pure.”
The PA president’s comments came amid days of clashes between police and Arab protesters at the Temple Mount, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque. The flashpoint site is deemed the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. The violent confrontations had mostly died down by Wednesday, with police deployed at the site.
“We will not forsake our country and we will keep every inch of our land,” Abbas said in a Ramallah address, according to the Maariv daily. “Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God.”
The PA president said he would insist that a future Palestinian state include East Jerusalem as its capital.
“The Al-Aqsa Mosque is ours. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours as well. They have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet, we won’t allow them to do that,” said Abbas.
Earlier this week, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel of attempting to “divide and steal” the Temple Mount by limiting access to the site holy to Jews and Muslims.
Erekat said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention of changing entry policies to the Temple Mount complex was “strategic,” Channel 10 reported. He may have been referring to remarks made by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Sunday to the effect that the discovery of pipe bombs — allegedly stashed for use in skirmishes with Israeli police — “forces us to reconsider the arrangements for the Temple Mount.”
“What he’s doing is part of the plan and strategic position of his, but if he succeeds in dividing and stealing al-Aqsa, what will we live for?” Erekat said.
He claimed in his statement that the escalation of violence was an Israeli retaliation for the “Palestinian victory in the UN” — the PA’s success in winning approval to have the Palestinian flag raised at Turtle Bay.
“Netanyahu knows well that it’s really playing with fire and it’ll lead to violence, radicalization and spilling of blood.
“The world needs to dry up the Israeli terrorist swamp,” Erekat told a meeting of PLO members.
Earlier in the day, Tzipi Livni, formerly Erekat’s counterpart in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, told German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that “Israel is the subject of Islamist provocation on the Temple Mount.” She didn’t specify which group or groups were responsible for the incitement.