After the recent announcement that Herod's tomb had been found, the Palestinian response was quick and sharp. A Palestinian official said the finding lacked scientific credibility and was driven by ideological motivations.But this episode of archeological denial pales in comparison with the decades of denial in the case of Jerusalem's Temple Mount, which is known to Arabs as Haram al Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary.In 1930, when Britain administered the area, the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem noted that the Temple Mount's "identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute." But at the Camp David summit in 2000, Yasser Arafat insisted that a Jewish temple had existed not on the Temple Mount but in Nablus. And an Arafat aide, Saeb Erekat, said, to President Clinton's amazement, "I don't believe there was a temple on top of the Haram, I really don't." Mahmoud Abbas, the current Palestinian Authority president, later agreed with Erekat, as did the mufti of Jerusalem. Arafat later went further and denied the temple existed anywhere in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza, including Nablus.Today, denial of the temple's existence has become a mainstay of Palestinian rhetoric. "They say that the temple was here," a Palestinian historian scoffed. "What temple ? What archeological remains?" And temple denial has turned into temple removal. During the last few years, Palestinians have discarded remains of the first and second temples.
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