[from the New York Sun]
By Benny Avni
UNITED NATIONS — As an American-hosted Middle East summit approaches, Palestinian Arabs are hardening their positions: An aide to the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, said yesterday that the Palestinians will demand sole Arab control over Judaism’s holiest site in Jerusalem, the Western Wall.
Mr. Abbas’s adviser on religious affairs, Adnan al-Husseini, made the new demand in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, sparking an outcry from many Israeli politicians who complained that recent reports about the Olmert government’s proposal to transfer Arab-dominated neighborhoods in Jerusalem to the jurisdiction of a Palestinian state have led to further Arab demands.
As the last remnant of the ancient Second Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 of the common era, the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is considered Judaism’s holiest site. Muslims, who call it Al-Burak, also venerate it as the place where they believe the prophet Muhammad tied his horse before ascending to the heavens.
“We are talking about full control” over Jerusalem, Mr. Husseini, a scion of one of the most prominent Palestinian Arab families, told Ma’ariv. “The Wailing Wall,” he said, “is a Muslim waqf,” or sacred endowment, “and therefore cannot be abandoned.” He cited a 1928 British mandate white paper that called for the area to be under Muslim control where Jews would be allowed to worship.