Question of Palestine home
19 April 1988
Item 77 of the preliminary list*
REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO
INVESTIGATE ISRAELI PRACTICES
AFFECTING THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE
POPULATION OF THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
Letter dated 19 April 1988 from the Chargé d'affaires a.i. of the
Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations addressed to
You have recently been presented with several communications regarding alleged Israeli actions at the Holy Places and toward Moslem clerics in Jerusalem (A/43/213- S/19608 and Corr.1 dated 11 March 1988, A/43/277-S/19723 dated 4 April 1988 and A/43/278-S/19724 dated 4 April 1988). These communications contain allegations of improper behavior of Israeli security forces at the Temple Mount. One of the communications (A/43/213-S/19608) even presented fabricated photographs. The account presented therein was totally false.
Israel has always had the utmost respect and reverence for the holy institutions of all faiths. On 27 June 1967, immediately after the reunification of Jerusalem, the Israeli Parliament enacted the Protection of Holy Places Law. reads as follows:
"1. The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the various religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.
"2. (a) Whoever desecrates or otherwise violates a Holy Place shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of seven years. (b) Whoever does anything that is likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the various religions to the places sacred to them or their-feelings with regard to those places shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years."
The Holy Places in Israel, sacred to Jews, Moslems and Christians, have always been cared for and maintained with the respect commensurate with the dignity of such institutions. Worshippers of all faiths are entitled to free access to synagogues, mosques, churches and all other religious institutions. The very fact that Moslem worshippers have free access to the Al-Aqsa mosque, and hold routine and regular prayer services there, clearly demonstrates the absurdity of the claim that Israel is trying to "Judaize" the city of Jerusalem.
Concerning the incident referred to in the Jordanian letter (A/43/213-S/19608), this day had been declared the "Day of the Martyrs", and a demonstration had been called for after the prayers from the pulpit. In view of this, Israel's security forces took all necessary precautions to maintain calm while allowing free access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, so that the faithful could conduct services there, which they did. On that day, the police decided not to grant a permit to Jewish worshippers to enter the Temple Mount area. This action was taken in view of the overriding concern to maintain calm, despite the fact that Israeli law ensures free access to the Holy Places for all. Subsequently, however, the Temple Mount area was used by rioters as a cover for their stone-throwing, in addition to which they overpowered a policeman there and almost killed him. Israeli security forces and police took appropriate measures to restore calm.
With regard to the Mufti of Jerusalem, I would like to inform you of the statement of the Chief of Police in Jerusalem, issued immediately after the alleged incident, stating that the Mufti had not been touched by any personnel of the Israeli security forces. The Mayor of Jerusalem visited the Mufti immediately after the alleged incident, and corroborated the police statement that the Mufti had not been touched by any member of the Israeli police or security forces. It should be noted, however, that on the day of this alleged incident, once again, an Israeli police officer was stabbed and wounded in an encounter with protesters.
Israel is proud of its impressive record regarding freedom of access for all religions to their places of worship and the maintenance of the Holy Places. We find it ironic that Jordan takes upon itself the right to produce fabricated and
baseless accusations against Israel on these matters, especially in the language and tone of some of the communications presented to you, particularly in the light of the contemptible abuse of Jewish holy institutions under Jordanian rule from 1949 until 1967, during which time dozens of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries were desecrated and destroyed.
I should be grateful if you would arrange for the text of this letter to be circulated as a document of the General Assembly, under item 77 of the preliminary list, and of the Security Council.
) Johanan BEIN