Jerusalem is a Muslim and Christian city, and there will be neither peace nor security until the Israeli occupation, settlements, and settlers leave the city, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.
Abbas made the remarks in a statement published in commemoration of the 43rd anniversary of the torching of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque by Denis Michael Rohan, an Australian Christian, Israel Radio reported.
Rohan entered the mosque on the Temple Mount on August 21, 1969, and set the building alight. He was tried and found clinically insane, and hospitalized in Israel until his repatriation five years later.
Despite Rohan’s conviction, Abbas claimed in his statement that Israeli authorities were aware of Rohan’s intentions. He further charged that Israel’s actions vis-a-vis the Temple Mount have been aimed at destroying the mosque and building in its stead “the alleged Jewish Temple.”
“The arson attack at the hand of a fanatic criminal happened under the nose of the Israeli occupation authorities. It was the beginning of a series [of attacks] that have not been interrupted since that fatal day,” the statement read. “Their ultimate goal is to rob Muslims and Christians of their holy shrines, destroy the Al Aqsa mosque and build the alleged Jewish temple.”
Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat made similar comments in 2001 in commemorating Rohan’s attempted destruction of the mosque.
In a statement then made on Arafat’s behalf and published in the Palestinian press, PA Executive Council Zakhariya al-Agha said that the Palestinian people will continue along the path of Jihad until the occupation ends.