A "series" of attacks on the Temple Mount "under the nose of the Israeli occupation authorities" seek "to rob Muslims and Christians of their holy shrines, destroy Al-Aqsa mosque and build the alleged Jewish Temple," according to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
In a statement issued to mark the 43rd anniversary of an arson attack on Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Abbas said that the third holiest shrine in Islam is still under threat. His statement will be seen by some in Israel as denying any Jewish claim to the Temple Mount — the holiest site in Judaism.
In February, Abbas said that for the past few years Israel had been waging a “final battle” aimed at erasing the Arab, Muslim and Christian character of east Jerusalem. He charged that Israel intended to destroy Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, which sits atop the remains of the two biblical Jewish Temples. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the remarks as “harshly inflammatory” and “baseless.”
Abbas said the 1969 arson attack by Australian Michael Dennis Rohan was "the beginning of [a] series [of attacks] that have not been interrupted since that fatal day."
Abbas reiterated that there will be "no peace, no security and no stability unless the occupation, settlers and settlements are gone from Jerusalem." He also stressed that the city will remain the eternal capital of the Palestinian state, according to the Palestine News Network news agency.
On Aug. 21, 1969, Rohan, a Christian who was volunteering on an Israeli kibbutz, walked into Al-Aqsa mosque, threw gasoline over the ancient pulpit and set it alight, destroying it. Rohan was tried, found to be insane and hospitalized in mental institutions until his death in 1995. He said he wanted to destroy the mosque to enable the Jews to build the Third Temple and hasten the coming of the messiah.