Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed in a recent newspaper interview that Israel is engaged in an "evil and dangerous plot to destroy" the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and replace it with a Jewish temple.
The accusation perpetuates a long held Arab myth that Israel is quietly "scheming" to destroy Muslim holy sites, according to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the Israeli organization that first recorded and translated Abbas’ remarks.
"All these [Israeli] actions indicate an evil and dangerous plot to destroy Al-Aqsa [Mosque] and build the alleged Temple," Abbas told the Saudi Arabian Al-Watan
newspaper on June 3. "Unfortunately, these dangers, which are clear for everyone to see, have yet to receive proper Arab, Islamic and international responses."
"Abbas' reference to the ‘alleged Temple’ is part of the language the PA routinely uses to deny Israel's history in Jerusalem," PMW said in a statement.
Abbas claimed in the interview that the plot stretches even to Jewish American groups.
"Jewish organizations are making frantic efforts, both visible and hidden, to complete the Judaizing of the Al-Aqsa [Mosque] and to take control of it, especially following the recurring invasions of Al-Aqsa and the attacks on worshipers," PMW quoted him as saying. "What affect do you think this has [both] on the Palestinian level and on the regional level? And do you think that the Arab and Islamic responses are at the adequate level?"
He went on to allege that Israeli archeological projects, which are closely regulated and overseen by experts, are meant to destroy Al Aqsa.
"We've said on several occasions that Al-Aqsa is in danger because the excavations Israel is conducting in the Haram (i.e., the Temple Mount) and beneath its foundations put it in danger of collapse," Abbas said. "Likewise, preventing West Bank Palestinian worshipers from entering the Mosque and giving radical Jews free rein to enter its courtyards and conduct their religious ceremonies."
Abbas has a history of promoting incitement and conspiracy theories about Jewish people, despite positioning himself to Western nations as a reformer.
"I say to the leaders of our Arab nation and to its peoples: Jerusalem and its environs are a trust that Allah entrusted to us. Saving it [Jerusalem] from the settlement monster and the danger of Judaization and confiscation is a personal [Islamic] commandment [Arabic: fard ayn] incumbent on all of us," Abbas said in 2010, according to PMW.