By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
The writer of these lines had the chance to participate this month (June 2022) in an important conference on property documents and the historical status of al-Aqsa Mosque, organized by the Supreme Committee for Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Unit in the Presidential Office, and held in al-Bireh in the West Bank. Dozens of conclusive pieces of evidence were presented confirming Muslims’ ownership of al-Aqsa with its entire area (144 dunums), in addition to al-Buraq Square and others.
I would like to share with the honorable reader some of the ideas I referred to in my paper on confronting the Jewish-Zionist claims towards al-Aqsa and Jerusalem.
The first point is that the treasures of documents in the Ottoman archive are not only about the Muslims’ ownership of al-Aqsa, but also about their registered properties in Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine. The Prime Minister’s Archive Record No. 342, in 970 AH–1562 CE, for example, did not include any endowment or property registered in the name of any Jew, neither in Jerusalem nor in Hebron and its villages. They owned no house, no farm, no land, no shops, no crops or others. Even the Jewish cemetery in Ras al-‘Amud near Silwan was one of the Islamic endowments leased to the Jews to bury their dead. It is part of the endowment of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi in Jerusalem and was leased to Jews in 967 AH–1559 CE.
As for the modern Jewish settlement project, it began outside the walls of Jerusalem, when Sir Moses (Moshe) Montefiore obtained a firman (royal decree) in 1855 allowing him to purchase a plot of land, while stipulating that the construction be 2,500 meters away from the walls of Jerusalem, which was later known as “Yemin Moshe” or Montefiore neighborhood. Then, gradual Jewish settlement expansion followed in light of the weakness of the Ottoman State, and the gaps in the Ottoman law and procedures, as well as the interference of foreign ambassadors and consuls.
The second point is related to the British and international documents as Palestine came under the British occupation from 1917 to 1948. Despite what the British authorities had done in terms of preparing all means for the establishment of Israel in Palestine, and in suppressing the Palestinian people, they could not transcend the facts on the ground and the resilience or steadfastness of the Palestinian people, where British correspondence and reports refer to these facts, including those concerning al-Aqsa and Jerusalem. Also, when the British authorities surveyed Palestine in 1944 and issued title deeds (Tapu) to their owners, the enormous land ownership of the Palestinians became obvious. Until 1948, the Zionists were not able to acquire more than 6% of the land of Palestine (while 94% remained under the ownership of the Palestinian people), and the Zionists were not able to establish their entity on 77% of the land of Palestine except until the 1948 war by displacing and committing ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people.
It is important here to mention the report of the International Commission “to determine the right and claims of Moslems and Jews in connection with the Western or Wailing Wall at Jerusalem,” submitted to the League of Nations in 1930, in the wake of the events of al-Buraq uprising in 1929. Based on evidence and documents, it confirmed that “To the Moslems belong the sole ownership of, and the sole propriety right to, the Western Wall, seeing that it forms an integral part of the Haram-esh-Sherif area, which is a Waqf property,” and “To the Moslems there also belongs the ownership of the Pavement in front of the Wall and the adjacent so-called Moghrabi (Moroccan) Quarter opposite the Wall, inasmuch as the last-mentioned property was made Waqf under Moslem Sharia Law.”
The third point Many stress the “relics battle,” and Zionist Jews strive with all their energies to find historical evidence of a previous presence in Palestine.
On the one hand, the land of Palestine is full of relics indicating its Arab and Islamic identity.
On the second hand, the people of this land have lived in it since tens of thousands of years, passing through the Natufian civilization (14–8 thousand years BC), mixing with the Canaanites coming from the Arabian Peninsula, and the Arab tribes that came before and after the Islamic conquest… and others. They are the ones who have been Arabized, and their language has been Arabized, and their majority converted to Islam and lived in Palestine under the rule of Islam the longest periods of its known history.
On the third hand, not all relics are “evidence of property.” In Palestine, like other countries, there are Greek and Roman relics as well as relics of peoples and invaders who passed through its land. Their relics bear evidence that the people of Palestine turned its land into graves for the invaders and caused their demise. It is a message to the occupying Zionists that they will have the same destiny, as it was for about 13 occupations and invasions of Palestine, through its history.
On a fourth hand, there must be warning against the Zionists’ falsification of relics and their attempt to fabricate a fake history for Palestine. Israeli excavations, according to specialized experts, were not executed to find out the truth but to prove the Jewish claimed history and distorted biblical accounts. Researchers noted that there was a strict Israeli reluctance to include international or neutral non-Jewish missions in the excavations along with attempts to modify the relics to prove the Jewish allegations.
Israeli writer Danny Rabinovitch admits in an article published in the summer of 1998 that he worked in the 1968 excavations of the Western Wall, which discovered Umayyad structures. He added that when he returned to the site in the early 1970s, he did not find any trace of these buildings as they were completely removed.
In addition, The Times newspaper published an article on 17/8/1972 by British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon saying that the occupation authorities’ destruction of Islamic buildings along the walls of al-Aqsa Mosque is a major crime, and that such barbaric acts must be stopped.
Irish researcher Paula Geranty, who worked with the Israeli professor Ya‘akov Billig in the excavations around al-Aqsa, said that Israeli archaeologists endeavor was only to uncover Jerusalem’s Jewish history; and they intentionally obliterated the features of the other historical epoch.
Finally, we are by no means discussing the religious right to our blessed land, as our belief in that is firm and decisive. As for the claims of the Jews in this respect, there is no point of convergence (that may be a basis for discussion between the two sides) between what we believe that it is our religious right and their religious claims. As a result, Israel resorts to its might and seeks the protection of major powers that sponsor the Zionist project on our land.
Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 27/6/2022