Palestinians demand apology after new UN chief says Temple Mount was home to Jewish temple

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — After the new United Nations chief told Israel Radio that the Temple destroyed by the Romans was a Jewish temple, Palestinian officials demanded an apology.

It is “completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Israel Radio on Friday during an interview with its New York correspondent.

The new UN Secretary General also said that “no one can deny the fact that Jerusalem is holy to three religions today,” including Judaism.

On Sunday, Adnan al-Husseini, Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Affairs minister told the Chinese news service Xinhua that Guterres “ignored UNESCO’s decision that considered the Al-Aksa Mosque of pure Islamic heritage.” He also said that Guterres “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs and overstepped his role as secretary general…and must issue an apology to the Palestinian people.”

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Xinhua also spoke with an advisor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmad Majdalani, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who said that Guterres’ comments “undermine the trustworthiness of the UN as a body that should support occupied peoples” and that Guterres “should clarify his remarks that give Israel a green light for more measures against Jerusalem.”

Guterres also told Israel Radio that he would not initiate a new peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, but that he did believe in a two-state solution and would be willing to assist in a peace process if asked to do so.