The Israeli press is full of reports of a paper prepared by Al-Mutawakel Taha, a senior official with the PA Ministry of Information to “refute” Jewish claim to the Western Wall.
The Jerusalem Post quotes him as follows:
Many studies published by Jewish experts have affirmed that there is no archeological evidence that the Temple Mount was built during the period of King Solomon,” the paper added. “One can only conclude that the Al-Buraq Wall is a Muslim wall and an integral part of the Aqsa Mosque and Haram Al-Sharif. No one has the right to claim ownership over it or change its features or original character. Also, no one has the right to agree with the occupation state’s racist and oppressive measures against history and holy sites.”
He is correct in saying that the Western Wall was not built in the time of Solomon. However, he appears to be ignorant of or chooses to ignore the history of the Temple Mount between Solomon and the Early Muslim period.
The drawing below from our Image Library shows the five stages in the development of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. From top to bottom:
1. The square Temple Mount built by King Hezekiah around the Temple built by King Solomon.
2. The Akra Fortress (red) was built by the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 BC to control the local Jewish population. The fortress was destroyed by the Maccabees in 141 BC.
3. After the destruction of the Akra, the Hasmoneans extended the Temple Mount to the south (blue).
4. King Herod the Great renewed the Temple Mount by enlarging the square Temple Mount to double its size and building a new Temple.
5. During the Umayyad period, the Dome of the Rock was built on the site of the Temple and the El Aqsa mosque on that of the Royal Stoa. Large public buildings were erected to the south and west of the Temple Mount.
I made the reconstruction drawing of the Herodian Temple Mount below at the end of the 10-year long excavation project led by the late Prof. Benjamin Mazar (1968-’78). The Western Wall, where the Jews pray today, is shown in red. This approx. 60 m. long wall is part of the 485 m. long western retaining wall of the Herodian Temple Mount. Many finds from the Second Temple period, such as Hebrew inscriptions, coins and also the architectural style prove that the present-day walls of the Temple Mount are irrefutably Herodian. To deny this is ignorance in the extreme.