Gaza, 10 Muharram 1436/3 November 2014 (MINA) – Deputy Head of the Political Office of Palestinian faction Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, on Sunday warned against Israeli plans to demolish Al-Aqsa Mosque and liquidate the Palestinian cause.
“Al-Aqsa Mosque is beyond the phase of division already and into the phase of demolition, something that aims at liquidating the Palestinian cause altogether,” Haniyeh said during a conference on the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at the Islamic University in Gaza.
“The mosque is in danger and its demolition has become so close,” he warned, according to Middle East Monitor (MEMO) reports quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA), Monday.
Haniyeh also slammed ongoing Israeli excavations underneath the mosque and in its vicinity, calling on the Arab League, which is holding a meeting on Israeli violations on Al-Aqsa, to adopt a national and Islamic strategy for defending Jerusalem and offering moral and financial support to the Palestinians.
The Arab League is due to hold a meeting on Israeli violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday upon request from Kuwait, which holds the rotating presidency of the pan-Arab body, and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada,” a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
Haniyeh, meanwhile, denounced the Balfour Declaration, which called in 1917 for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
“Palestinians have no homeland other than Palestine,” Haniyeh said. “They will not accept to settle down anywhere else or any project for eliminating the Palestinian cause,” he added.
He called on the United Kingdom, which issued the declaration, to shoulder its moral and legal responsibility for the suffering it caused the Palestinians.
The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous “Balfour Declaration,” called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Palestinians mark the 97th anniversary of the declaration on Sunday.
Israel later occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self proclaimed Jewish state a move never recognized by the international community.
Palestinians continue to demand the establishment of an independent state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital. (T/P002/P3)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)