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A response to Netanyahu's misguidance on Jerusalem

Palestinians demonstrate in solidarity with hunger striker Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails after the Friday prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem on April 28, 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians demonstrate in solidarity with hunger striker Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails after the Friday prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem on 28 April 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli occupation government held its weekly session on Sunday in one of the tunnels dug under the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque. This coincided with the commemoration of Israel's brutal aggression in June 1967 and its occupation of the rest of the Palestinian territories, in addition to other Arab territories.

Holding the meeting in the tunnel, and specifically at that particular time, suggests one main point: Israel will not withdraw from Jerusalem, which will remain "united as the eternal capital of Israel". During the same meeting, the Israeli government approved additional budgets, amounting to tens of millions of dollars, to accelerate a series of settlement projects in occupied Jerusalem. It also approved an additional budget of more than $13 million for projects in the Old City, near the Al-Haram Al-Sharif and the Buraq Wall. These projects include the construction of underground elevators and pathways to reach the so-called Jewish Quarter in the Old City, and extending to the Buraq Wall. The project also involves developing the infrastructure in order to encourage Jews and foreign tourists to visit the Buraq Wall.

Israeli Government ministers at a cabinet meeting held at the Old City of Jerusalem's Western Wall

According to the Israeli newspaper, Maarev, the settlement projects require extensive digging and excavation under the ground and under the Buraq Square. This will threaten the collapse and extinction of Arab and Muslim monuments and landmarks in the area. The project also aims to turning the square into a centre for the Jews to completely control the area. A cable car project linking the train station in Jerusalem to the Buraq Wall was also approved during the meeting. This project aims to facilitate the transportation of 130,000 settlers to the wall. This project has been presented to international companies for execution, and a French company announced its withdrawal from the project a few months ago because it breaches the area occupied in 1967.

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On his part, Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, announced at an earlier time the beginning of the plans for the cable car project and had planned to link it to stations in the heart of Palestinian neighbourhoods, especially in Silwan, which is adjacent to the Al-Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was also revealed that the municipality is moving forward with the planning, despite international objections.

The Israeli government held its meeting under Al-Aqsa Mosque days after US President Donald Trump visited the Buraq Wall (known to the Israelis as the "Western Wall" of the alleged Solomon Temple) according to Jewish rituals. After his pro-Zionist statements, in which he proved he was standing on the right of Netanyahu and Lieberman, to the point that the most extremist parties have competed to give him honorary membership in their ranks. The most important thing the Israeli prime minister said in his speech on the occasion of what he called the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the liberation and "reunification of UrShalim", is that by holding the government's weekly meeting in the Western Wall tunnels, in "the place where King Solomon built the first temple, and where those returning from the Babylonian exile built the second temple. After its destruction, this place was the beating heart of the Israeli people's longing over generations." He also said:

Thousands of years have passed since the Jewish people have returned to their homeland and they are determined to build a unified capital.

Netanyahu and his government have tried to promote one misguidance after another regarding the "Jewishness" of Jerusalem. Palestine and Jerusalem are purely Arab. This is what the facts of history say. The Greek historian Herodotus confirms: "Palestine is part of the Levant." The Franconian historians unanimously confirm: "Palestine is an Arab land." The famous historian Henry Breasted said Jerusalem is a Canaanite civilisation, and of course the Canaanites are Arab tribes, thus why Palestine is called the land of Canaan. The Arab Jebusites settled in Palestine 4,000 years before Christ and settled in Jerusalem in 2500 BC. Jerusalem has been Arab, even before the emergence of Islam, as the historical documentation of its Arabism did not start from the Arab Islamic conquest in 638 as many historians claim.

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Image of Jewish men lighting candles Hanukkah [Taner Aydin - Anadolu Agency]

Image of Jewish men lighting candles Hanukkah [Taner Aydin – Anadolu Agency]

The Umayyad caliph Marwan bin Abdul Malik build the Dome of the Rock Mosque and the dome in order to confirm that Islam entered the city. However, the origin of what the Jews call Jerusalem, i.e. UrShalim, is that the Arab Jebusites actually first called the city UrShalim, meaning the city of peace. Therefore, the name has no relation to the Jews whatsoever and they have no history in our city. Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyubi moved to the city immediately after the Battle of Hattin and considered it as the main key to liberating the rest of the Palestinian areas. These are just a few historical facts about Jerusalem and its organic link to the Arabs and Islam a few decades after its emergence.

On the other hand, Israel's most prominent archaeologist, Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv, admitted that the Jews had no connection to Jerusalem. This was mentioned in a report published in Israel's Jerusalem Post magazine a few months ago, in which Finkelstein said that Jewish archaeologists have found no historical or archaeological evidence supporting some of the stories contained in the Torah, such as the story of the victory of Yusha' bin Nun's victory over Canaan. Finkelstein also raised doubts regarding the personal story of David in the Torah, more closely associated with Jerusalem according to Jewish beliefs. He stressed that there is no historical basis or evidence of the Jews having taken Jerusalem as their capital, that someone amongst them will oversee the construction of the so-called Third Temple, and that there is no trace of the Judea and Israel Kingdoms. He believes that the belief of the existence of the two kingdoms is an illusion. He also noted that there is no evidence of the existence of the Jewish empire extended from Egypt to the Euphrates River and that if the Jewish kingdoms do actually exist (as mentioned in the Torah), then they were just tribes and their battles were actually small tribal wars. As for Solomon's temple that Netanyahu has spoke about, there is no archaeological evidence suggesting it exists.

On his part, Raphael Greenberg, an archaeologist and lecturer at Tel Aviv University, said that Israel should have found something after digging for six weeks, while the Israelis have been digging in Jerusalem for years and have found nothing.  Moreover, Professor Yoni Mizrahi, an independent archaeologist, who worked in the past with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), agreed with the two aforementioned archaeologists saying that Israel didn't find anything, not even a sign saying, "Welcome to David's Palace". He added that Israel is using archaeology in an improper manner, aimed at the expulsion of Palestinians who live in Jerusalem and turning it into a Jewish city.

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Of course what the three Jewish scholars living in Israel have said is nothing new, as many world archaeologists and historians have come to this conclusion. One of these archaeologists is Kathleen Kenyon who concluded this in her book Archaeology in the Holy Land. The studies of historian Peter James published in his book Centuries of Darkness also come to this conclusion, as well as that of the well-known historian Arnold Toynbee, historian Gustave Le Bon in his book The First Civilisations of the Orient, well-known Jewish historian Koestler, and historian Shlomo Sand in his two valuable books The Invention of the Jewish People and The Invention of the Land of Israel. There are also Norman Finkelstein, Israel Shahak, Bernard Lazare, Ilan Pappe, Sami Samuha and many others.

What we say to Netanyahu is: Jerusalem is purely Arab, no matter how much you try to falsify and fabricate. The land of Palestine is from An-Naqura to Rafah, and from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The regional Palestinian waters have been and will continue to be Arab.

Translated from Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 1 June 2017

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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