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PA: The US is "racist" and helps Israel "Judaize" Jerusalem
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PA: The US is "racist" and helps Israel "Judaize" Jerusalem
  • Abbas: Israel opened the Pilgrimage Road archaeological site to erase Jerusalem's Arab characteristics
  • PA rages against US ambassador and envoy for participating in opening ceremony
  • PA: US officials' participation in opening is
-       "Piracy and a blatant attack against international law"
-       "A scandalous crime"
-       "An attack" and "a threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque"
-       "American aggression"
-       "A colonialist act"
-       "Forging history"

  • Abbas' advisor: US Ambassador Friedman is "behaving like an extremist settler who is controlled by racist ideas against all people"
  • Columnist for official PA daily: US Ambassador Friedman
-       "Is an American colonialist"
-       "Looks extremely happy, like criminals enjoying their crimes and the sight of their victims suffering"
  • Columnist calls to sue US officials who participated in Pilgrimage Road opening in 3 different courts
By Nan Jacques Zilberdik
 
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, US Envoy Jason Greenblatt, and US Senator Lindsey Graham took part in the inauguration ceremony last month of the Pilgrimage Road subterranean archaeological site, located south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The excavated road was used by Jewish pilgrims visiting the Second Temple around the first century CE, and the Arab neighborhood of Silwan has since been built above it.
 
The PA called the opening of the ancient road an act of "Judaization," and PA Chairman Abbas repeated the PA libel that Israel works to "change Jerusalem's Arab characteristics":
 
"[PA] President Abbas explained to his Russian colleague [President Vladimir Putin] about the crisis in the relations with Israel, and also about the daily violations, the latest of which was the excavation of a tunnel in order to change Jerusalem's Arab characteristics"
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 13, 2019]
 
Senior PA officials used the opportunity to criticize and condemn the American officials present at the opening. Abbas' advisor on religious affairs and Islamic relations, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, accused Friedman and the other US officials of "piracy" and repeated the PA's denial of any Jewish historical presence ever in Jerusalem, claiming that it is "an Arab, Palestinian, and Islamic city":
 
"He [Al-Habbash] emphasized that [Friedman's] actions constitute piracy and a blatant attack against international law, which considers Jerusalem an occupied city and a purely Islamic heritage [site]... Al-Habbash said that the colonialist acts of Trump's administration and its representatives - led by settler Friedman - in Jerusalem... will not change the historical and religious truth regarding the city, as it is an Arab, Palestinian, and Islamic city - it was and will remain such until Allah inherits the earth and its inhabitants. He noted that the plots of the occupation state, and behind it the colonialist administration that controls the White House, will not succeed in Judaizing the city or changing its Islamic and Palestinian character."
[WAFA, official PA news agency, June 30 2019]
 
Al-Habbash added that Friedman is like an extremist and racist settler:
 
"Friedman's activities are as far as possible from diplomacy, as he is behaving like an extremist settler who is controlled by racist ideas against all people, and not only against the Palestinian people."
 
A Fatah official and regular columnist for the official PA daily, Muwaffaq Matar, likewise described Ambassador Friedman as a "colonialist" and stated that while "destroying" Palestinian "heritage," Friedman looked "extremely happy, like criminals enjoying their crimes and the sight of their victims suffering":
 
"American colonialist David Friedman, Trump's Ambassador to the racist Tel Aviv regime... This racist knows that with his hammer he is destroying an international global system that is striving to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the nation of people... he looks extremely happy, like criminals enjoying their crimes and the sight of their victims suffering."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 3, 2019]
 
The PLO's chief negotiator Saeb Erekat also accused Friedman and Greenblatt of being "settlers" and called them a "threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque":
 
"PLO Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat said: 'I ask the entire world, including the American people, to watch the settler Friedman and the settler Greenblatt next to him as they dig under the Palestinian town of Silwan. He cannot be the ambassador of the US; he is the chairman of the settlement council. Those who were present at the workshop in Manama [in Bahrain] need to watch [them] in order to see the prosperity of the settlement enterprise and the threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.'"
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 1, 2019]
 
PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh stated that the PA government condemned "the settlement activities in Jerusalem" and Friedman's participation in them:
 
"[PA] Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said: 'We condemn the settlement activities in occupied Jerusalem and the participation of American Ambassador [to Israel David] Friedman in one of these activities: the excavation of a tunnel under the town of Silwan. This behavior reflects this [American] administration's full support for the right-wing government of Israel, its settlement policy, and its violation of international agreements and law.'"
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 2, 2019]
 
The cartoon above shows US Ambassador Friedman dressed as a construction worker holding a shovel in one hand and a hammer with a briefcase as its head in the other.
 
Text on cartoon in Arabic: "Laborers of Israel [US Ambassador to Israel] David Friedman"
Text on cartoon in English: "David Friedman"
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 2, 2019]
 
An op-ed in the official PA daily similarly accused Washington of "Judaizing occupied Jerusalem with its own hands, through [US] Ambassador [to Israel David] Friedman's hammer." The writer stated that Friedman's participation was an "attack" on the Al-Aqsa Mosque:
 
"Friedman's going into the field in order to destroy the foundations of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem's historical and cultural foundation with his own hands constitutes an attack on the holy sites, which demands a direct response with all means."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 2, 2019]
 
Another regular writer for the official PA daily, Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, called the American participation in the opening of the Pilgrimage Road a "scandalous crime" and "American aggression," and called for putting the US officials on trial - everywhere: in a Palestinian court, an American court, and the International Criminal Court:
 
"The latest scandalous crime that Ambassador of Trump's administration in Israel Friedman and President Trump's advisor Greenblatt committed against the Palestinian rights and interests in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Palestine... was participation... in the inauguration of a tunnel for the Israeli settlers, which is called 'the Pilgrimage Road'...This direct American aggression... necessitates the concerned bodies to act as follows:
  1. To sue Greenblatt and Friedman in a Palestinian court and issue an arrest warrant against the two of them for a direct and scandalous assault on the Palestinian rights.

  2. To turn to the American legal system and submit a lawsuit against the two of them.

  3. To turn to the International Criminal Court and put the two of them on trial for the crime that they have committed."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 2, 2019]
 
The following are longer excerpts of the reports above and additional reports on the opening of the Pilgrimage Road:
 
"[PA] President Mahmoud Abbas and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a long and in-depth telephone conversation yesterday, Friday [July 12, 2019]...
President Abbas explained to his Russian colleague about the crisis in the relations with Israel, and also about the daily violations, the latest of which was the excavation of a tunnel in order to change Jerusalem's Arab characteristics (refers to the Pilgrimage Road archaeological site; see note below -Ed.). He also explained about the Palestinian money being seized (refers to Israel's Anti "Pay-for-Slay" Law to deduct terror salaries; see note below -Ed.), which has put us into serious financial straits, along with the continued settlement and daily invasions."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 13, 2019]
 
Israel's Anti "Pay-for-Slay" Law - Israeli law stating that the PA payments to terrorists and the families of dead terrorists is a financial incentive to terror. The law instructs the state to deduct and freeze the amount of money the PA pays in salaries to imprisoned terrorists and families of "Martyrs" from the tax money Israel collects for the PA. Should the PA stop these payments for a full year, the Israeli government would have the option of giving all or part of the frozen money to the PA.
The law was enacted by the Israeli Parliament on July 2, 2018, and its first implementation was approved by Israel's Security Cabinet on Feb. 17, 2019, when it decided to withhold 502,697,000 Israeli shekels (approximately $138 million) from the PA. In response, the PA announced it would not accept any of the tax money collected by Israel unless it also included the frozen amount.
During the initial parliamentary vote in 2018, the law's sponsor Avi Dichter said: "The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee received much help in its deliberations... from Palestinian Media Watch who provided us with authentic data that enabled productive and professional deliberations, nuances that are very difficult to achieve without precise data." [Israeli Parliament website, July 2, 2018]
 
Headline: "Al-Habbash: What American Ambassador Friedman did today in Jerusalem is piracy and an attack against international law"
"Supreme Shari'ah Judge and [PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas'] Advisor on Religious and Islamic Relations Mahmoud Al-Habbash sharply condemned the participation of US Ambassador to the occupation state (i.e., Israel) David Friedman and American Envoy Jason Greenblatt today (Sunday) [June 30, 2019] in the inauguration of the settlement tunnel that the occupation authorities created in the town of Silwan (referring to the inauguration of the Pilgrimage Road archeological site, which is partly under the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan; see note below -Ed.)...
He emphasized that [Friedman's] actions constitute piracy and a blatant attack against international law, which considers Jerusalem an occupied city and a purely Islamic heritage [site], to which non-Muslims have no right according to UNESCO's (UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) laws (sic., UNESCO does not establish laws).
In a press release, Al-Habbash said that the colonialist acts of [US President Donald] Trump's administration and its representatives - led by settler Friedman - in Jerusalem... will not change the historical and religious truth regarding the city, as it is an Arab, Palestinian, and Islamic city - it was and will remain such until Allah inherits the earth and its inhabitants. He noted that the plots of the occupation state, and behind it the colonialist administration that controls the White House, will not succeed in Judaizing the city or changing its Islamic and Palestinian character.
Al-Habbash added: 'Friedman's activities are as far as possible from diplomacy, as he is behaving like an extremist settler who is controlled by racist ideas against all people, and not only against the Palestinian people.'"
[WAFA, official PA news agency, June 30 2019]
 
Mahmoud Al-Habbash also holds the position of Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari'ah Justice.
 
Excerpt of op-ed by Muwaffaq Matar, Fatah Revolutionary Council member and regular columnist for the official PA daily

Headline: "Friedman crushes the head of human heritage with a hammer"
"American colonialist David Friedman, [US President Donald] Trump's Ambassador to the racist Tel Aviv regime (i.e., Israel), knows that UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) included 13 sites in Palestine in the cultural and natural World Heritage List, and primarily the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem.
This racist knows that with his hammer (referring to his participation in the inauguration of an archaeological site; see note below -Ed.) he is destroying an international global system that is striving to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the nation of people, without differentiating between their races, color, gender, and religion... and because he well understands what he is doing with his hammer when he strikes the wall of a tunnel [under] the land of occupied Palestinian Silwan in Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine that is also occupied, under the heading of seeking Jewish antiquities. He knows, as [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu knows, that [the antiquities] were never here and the scientist researchers have not found even a small real remnant of them (sic., an abundance of Jewish archaeological antiquities have been found in Israel). However, despite this, he looks extremely happy, like criminals enjoying their crimes and the sight of their victims suffering."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 3, 2019]
 
Excerpt of an op-ed by Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, regular columnist for the official PA daily
 
Headline: "Trump's team should be put on trial"
"The latest scandalous crime that Ambassador of [US President Donald] Trump's administration in Israel [David] Friedman and President Trump's advisor [Jason] Greenblatt committed against the Palestinian rights and interests in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Palestine... was participation... in the inauguration of a tunnel for the Israeli settlers, which is called 'the Pilgrimage Road' (see note below -Ed.). The tunnel connects the Zionist settlers' neighborhoods to the Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., the Western Wall of the Temple Mount), and passes underneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque...
This direct American aggression from the Trump administration's team towards the Palestinian rights and interests necessitates the concerned bodies to act as follows:
  1. To sue Greenblatt and Friedman in a Palestinian court and issue an arrest warrant against the two of them for a direct and scandalous assault on the Palestinian rights.

  2. To turn to the American legal system and submit a lawsuit against the two of them.

  3. To turn to the International Criminal Court and put the two of them on trial for the crime that they have committed."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 2, 2019]
 
The Al-Buraq Wall - Islam's Prophet Muhammad is said to have ridden during his Night Journey from Mecca to "al aqsa mosque", i.e., "the farthest mosque" (Quran, Sura 17), and there tied his miraculous flying steed named Al-Buraq to a "stone" or a "rock."  (Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Book 47, Hadith 3424). In the 1920's, Arab Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini decided to identify the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem as that "rock" or "stone," and since then Muslims refer to the Western Wall as the "Al-Buraq Wall."
 
Excerpt of an op-ed by Bassem Barhoum, regular columnist for the official PA daily

Headline: "Friedman's hammer exposes Kushner's hypocrisy"
"Washington is Judaizing occupied Jerusalem with its own hands, through [US] Ambassador [to Israel David] Friedman's hammer. In this way it is placing itself in a confrontation on the ground with the Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations. Friedman's going into the field in order to destroy the foundations of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem's historical and cultural foundation with his own hands (Friedman took part in breaking down a wall in order to open and inaugurate the Pilgrimage Road; see note below -Ed.) constitutes an attack on the holy sites, which demands a direct response with all means...
Those who believed [US Presidential Advisor Jared] Kushner's workshop (refers to US-led conference in Bahrain in June 2019 focusing on economic aspects of US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan -Ed.) and his hypocrisy when he said that he is working hard to revive the region economically - [you should know that] the true face of Kushner and [US President Donald] Trump's administration is Friedman's hammer. And to those who are rushing to normalize their relations with Israel, we say: Israel will not defend you from Iran, because its main enemy is you, the Arabs. Therefore Friedman's hammer is destroying the foundations of the Arab nation, and not Iran.
Let every Arab leader, or even every Arab, ask himself: Do I agree to be Friedman's partner in destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in destroying the Islamic Arab history in Jerusalem? If there is no decisive answer to this, they must announce that they condemn the actions of Trump's ambassador in Jerusalem, and this is the minimum that is required."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 2, 2019]
 
Headline: "Friedman participates with his hammer in the inauguration of a settlement tunnel in Silwan"
"Yesterday [June 30, 2019] US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and American Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt participated in the inauguration of a 'Judaization tunnel' in the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh, in the town of Silwan (predominantly Arab neighborhood near the Old City of Jerusalem, built above ruins of ancient Jerusalem -Ed.) south of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was called 'the Pilgrimage Road' (see note below -Ed.).
The Wadi Hilweh information center explained that the Elad settler association (i.e., the parent group of the City of David Foundation, which excavated the Pilgrimage Road) has worked in recent years on excavating the tunnel under homes, streets, and buildings in the neighborhood, and is presenting it as part of the path of the pilgrims to 'the Second Temple circa the first century CE.' ...
The center added that the inauguration of the tunnel and the continued work on tunnels under the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood come at a time when the authorities are neglecting the safety of the residents, as the scope of the cracks, fissures, and landslides in the homes, streets, and yards of Wadi Hilweh is expanding.
PLO Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat said: 'I ask the entire world, including the American people, to watch the settler Friedman and the settler Greenblatt next to him as they dig under the Palestinian town of Silwan. He cannot be the ambassador of the US; he is the chairman of the settlement council. Those who were present at the workshop in Manama (i.e., refers to US-led conference in Bahrain in June 2019 focusing on economic aspects of US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan) need to watch [them] in order to see the prosperity of the settlement enterprise and the threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.'"
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 1, 2019]
 
Saeb Erekat also holds the following positions: Fatah Central Committee member and PLO Chief Negotiator.
 
Headline: "The [PA] government discussed a decision to establish a legal-financial team to monitor the theft of our money by Israel"
"[PA] Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said: 'The attack against Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Issawiya, Silwan, and Sur Baher is growing stronger. We welcome the position of our brave people in Jerusalem and the Jerusalem district, and demand to defend our Palestinian-Islamic-Christian heritage in the city and to stop its falsification.'
In his speech at the beginning of the weekly [PA] government meeting that was held yesterday [July 1, 2019] in Ramallah, Shtayyeh added: 'We condemn the arrest of [PA] Minister of Jerusalem Affairs [Adnan Al-Husseini], who deals with the affairs, problems, and needs of the residents of Jerusalem on a daily basis. We see this as a blow to the [PA] government's efforts in Jerusalem, but will continue to fulfill our obligation to the holy city [of Jerusalem], to take care of the daily affairs of its residents, and to improve their lives. This week we will transfer additional payments in order to assist the hospitals in Jerusalem.'
He continued: 'We condemn the settlement activities in occupied Jerusalem and the participation of American Ambassador [to Israel David] Friedman in one of these activities: the excavation of a tunnel under the town of Silwan (refers to the inauguration of the Pilgrimage Road archaeological site partly located under the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan; see note below -Ed.). This behavior reflects this [American] administration's full support for the right-wing government of Israel, its settlement policy, and its violation of international agreements and law.'"
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 2, 2019]
 
Headline: "The [PA] Presidential Office warns against the danger of the Israeli excavations in occupied Jerusalem"
"The [PA] Presidential Office warned against the dangerous outcomes and consequences that will be for the continued excavations that are being carried out by the Israeli occupation authorities in occupied Jerusalem, and particularly the one that was revealed yesterday [June 30, 2019], which reaches from Silwan (predominantly Arab neighborhood near the Old City of Jerusalem, built above ruins of ancient Jerusalem -Ed.) to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque (refers to the Pilgrimage Road; see note below -Ed.).
The Presidential Office added in a statement yesterday that 'His Honor [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas has given instructions to remain in contact with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's general secretariat in order to work against these dangerous Israeli violations.'"
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 1, 2019]
 
Headline: "The inauguration of the Pilgrimage Road - forging history and turning the facts on their head"
"The occupation state inaugurated a tunnel yesterday [June 30, 2019] called the Pilgrimage Road (see note below -Ed.) under the town of Silwan (predominantly Arab neighborhood near the Old City of Jerusalem, built above ruins of ancient Jerusalem -Ed.) ... after six years of excavations in the bowels of the earth.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and US President [Donald Trump's] Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt participated in the inauguration ceremony of the Pilgrimage Road...
Jerusalem District Governor Adnan Ghaith... warned that these excavations and the network of tunnels, whose number rises daily and all of which go in the direction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, constitute a direct danger to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its near surroundings. He added that they are liable to cause collapses soon in the areas where these tunnels are being excavated, as well as collapses within the Al-Aqsa Mosque or its near surroundings.
Jerusalem affairs researcher and member of the Committee to Protect the Lands of Silwan Fakhri Abu Diab explained that the planning of this settlement project began in 2005, and that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu signed it in 2010, when the work on it officially began. He noted that
its goal is to connect the path to the alleged Temple (sic., the tunnel provides access to a path used by Jewish pilgrims visiting the Second Temple)...
Expert on Jerusalem affairs Jamal Amr... noted that this land is Canaanite and existed 4,000 years before Israel, but the occupation is attempting to impose the Israeli narrative."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 1, 2019]


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