Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat – formerly the chief negotiator with Israel for the Palestinian Authority – condemned this week’s decision by the Israeli government to hold its weekly cabinet meeting in the Western Wall tunnel in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The meeting was held inside the “Kotel” tunnel in honor of Jerusalem Day, and to celebrate the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem and those parts of the capital that were occupied by Jordan for the 19 years prior to the 1967 Six Day War.
In a statement released Sunday by the Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA news agency, Erekat condemned the Israeli government for holding its meeting “under the Al Aqsa Mosque and approving several illegal procedures,” as he put it.
(The Palestinian Authority tends to equate the Al Aqsa mosque – which is built on a portion of the land inside the Temple Mount compound – with the Temple Mount itself. This sometimes leads to mass hysteria among Arab faithful, often deliberately whipped up by political leaders.)
“The [Israeli] occupation’s government decided as the month of Ramadan started and coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the military occupation of Palestine, to send a message to our people and the international community and that is to continue to violate the international law. Israel is confident that it will not pay the price for undermining international resolutions.”
Erekat also claimed Israel is intentionally sabotaging international efforts to revive the peace process, and working to annex Judea and Samaria.
“As a force, Israel is trying to alter the historical nature and annex Jerusalem in particular,” he added, “an act against the United Nations’ resolutions which all state that Jerusalem is an occupied city and an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories on the borders of 1967.”
The government decided during its meeting to approve construction of an elevator and underground passages from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall Plaza. The ministers also discussed the possibility of installing a cable car over the Old City. All three would make it easier for those with disabilities to access the site.