Obama administration hits Palestinian Authority for Temple Mount ‘study’

Want to hear the latest from the anti-Israel Obama White House and those Israel bashers at the State Department?

In response to a question about the Palestinian Authority’s endorsement of a “study” claiming that the Western Wall in Jerusalem is really part of the Islamic Waqf and not really Jewish at all, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley had this to say:

“We strongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative. We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of de-legitimization of Israel including denying historic Jewish connections to the land.”

Hmmm. I’m trying to remember if we heard statement that strong on the explosive issue of Jerusalem’s holy sites from any of Obama’s predecessors. I can’t remember any.

The Orthodox Union, which has positioned itself as the strongest advocate of a Jewish Jerusalem, wrote the the administration last week urging a strong U.S. repudiation of the PA statement.

Today it welcomed the administration response, as well as a strong statement from Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the outgoing chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The Orthodox Union welcomes the Obama Administration’s repudiation of the Palestinian Authority official’s report denying the Jewish connection to the Western Wall,” said OU Washington director Nathan Diament. “We appreciate that the Administration has thus responded positively to our request to the President – which was echoed by others, such as Chairman Berman.”

A number of other Jewish groups condemned the Palestinian action. J Street, in a statement, said “this blatant disregard of historical fact and disrespect for Judaism’s connection to its holiest of places is both disappointing and extremely unhelpful as the United States attempts to break the stagnation and resume direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

The Zionist Organization of America “condemned the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s Mahmoud Abbas as anti-Semitic for officially endorsing an absurd study with the preposterous theme that Jews have no claim of any kind to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the only remnant of the outer retaining wall of the biblical Jewish temples which, other than Temple Mount itself, is Judaism’s holiest site.”

I don’t want to sound like a pessimist or anything, but with the Palestinians trying to stir the Temple Mount pot, do administration efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have a ghost of a chance? Can the Palestinian leaders genuinely believe such comments won’t wreak havoc with those efforts?

Or maybe that’s the point. More and more evidence suggests the PA leadership, still hoping the Obama administration will carry their water, has less than no interest in getting back to the negotiating table.

When Yasser Arafat claimed there was no Jewish Temple on the site during the Camp David negotiations in 2000, that was reportedly a turning point for U.S. negotiators, who realized the Palestinians had no intention of concluding a deal.

Deja vu all over again?

Not that I think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will weep salt tears over the demise of the latest version of the peace process; Abbas, it seems, is determined to make it easy for Bibi.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.