Palestinian officials are demanding an apology from the new United Nations chief after he said it was “completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple.”
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also told Israel Radio in an interview Friday with its New York correspondent that “no one can deny the fact that Jerusalem is holy to three religions today,” including Judaism.
On Sunday, Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Affairs minister, told the Chinese news service Xinhua that Guterres “ignored UNESCO’s decision that considered the Al-Aqsa mosque of pure Islamic heritage.” He also said Guterres “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs and overstepped his role as secretary general … and must issue an apology to the Palestinian people.”
Xinhua also spoke with an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmad Majdalani, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who said that Guterres’s comments “undermine the trustworthiness of the UN as a body that should support occupied peoples” and that Guterres “should clarify his remarks that give Israel a green light for more measures against Jerusalem.”
Guterres also told Israel Radio that he would not initiate a new peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, but that he did believe in a two-state solution and would be willing to assist in a peace process if asked.
Following anger from the PA, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely praised Guterres for his comments.
“I praise the UN secretary general for standing up for the historical truth regarding the Temple Mount and the Jewish people’s historical connection to Jerusalem,” Hotovely said in a statement. “You cannot cut off the deep 3,000-year connection between the people of Israel and Jerusalem.”