Then I said to them, “You see the bad state we are in—Yerushalayim lying in ruins and its gates destroyed by fire. Nehemiah 2:17 (The Israel Bible™)
A Vatican envoy for eastern churches Leonardo Sandri and Francesco Patton visited the Temple Mount on Thursday,
The Elder of Zion blog reports that Cardinal Sandri reiterated the Vatican’s stance vis-a-vis Jerusalem.
It was at that point that Sheikh Mohammad Azzam Al-Khatib Al-Tamimi, director general of the Waqf and the Al-Aqsa mosque, replied with a speech that categorically denied any Jewish connection to Jerusalem saying:
I thank the Franciscan delegation of Jerusalem, the Vatican delegation, for this visit and for your solidarity with the authority of the Waqf in Jerusalem, which is experiencing a difficult time due to the continuing Israeli violation against the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Today’s meeting has a historical significance and we can say that it follows the previous visits of the Supreme Pontiff Francis, to our properties (Waqf) and to our Al-Aqsa mosque, and it is a clear and solemn message based on Christian-Muslim coexistence and your continued support for preserving the historical status quo in Islamic and Christian shrines according to the agreements established before the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967.
The model of peaceful, Islamic and Christian coexistence in Jerusalem has lasted for 1400 years, but unfortunately we cannot forget, but condemn the wars and attacks against houses of worship, against the faithful and the innocent inhabitants of the Holy City and consider these acts an anomaly in the history of Jerusalem.
The “three monotheistic religions” of the Vatican message has been reduced by one by the Muslim representative. He is saying that the Jews have been attacking the holy sites of Jerusalem – and have no right to be there.
Adding fuel to the fire he goes on to say:
We take the occasion of this meeting to emphasize our adherence to the principles of the Omar pact, which established the form of the Christian-Muslim relationship on the basis that the Al-Aqsa mosque is exclusively a place of prayer for Muslims, just like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is of the Christians.
This pact, which is known in Arabic as the al-ʿUhda al-ʿUmariyya, has been questioned as to its authenticity, and many versions exist. The seemingly most authoritative version, recorded by al-Tabari, includes:
This is the assurance of safety [aman] which the servant of God Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, has given to the people of Jerusalem. He has given them an assurance of safety for themselves, for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and healthy of the city and for all the rituals which belong to their religion. Their churches will not be inhabited by Muslims and will not be destroyed. Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their cross, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted. No Jew will live with them in Jerusalem.*
When al-Tamimi refers to Umar’s promise to Christians he is further erasing Jewish history.
The Vatican officials that were present sat there straight-faced and didn’t object to the comments. And although some believe that the reason for their silence is because they’re too polite to respond, it should be noted that in 2014, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained to the Pope that Jesus spoke Hebrew, the Pope interrupted him saying that he spoke Aramaic.