Statement by Palestinian Authority official
Zionist Organization of America press release, June 28, 1999
Deputy Mayor Kamal Dweik, in an interview with the Israeli news
agency IMRA on June 22, 1999, said that Jews should not be permitted to
pray in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, the burial site of the
Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Biblical matriarchs
Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel.
“It is a mosque, not a synagogue,” Dweik declared. He said it should be
“returned to being a mosque, and the Jews
who want to visit the mosque are welcome,”
but would not be allowed to pray there, because
“For Jews to pray in a mosque would mean that it is changed
into a synagogue. And we refuse this thing.”
Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of
America (ZOA), has filed a formal appeal with the State Department’s U.S.
Commission on International Religious Freedom.
In his letter, the ZOA
president noted that “the Commission was created precisely to take action
against such threats to religious freedom.”
He asked: “Why is the
Commission silent in the face of this horrendous threat by a Palestinian
Authority official against Jewish prayer rights — especially when it is the
latest in a long series of such threats?”