(Nati Shohat/Flash90)
The Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein

Palestinians on Sunday commemorated the 47th anniversary of an arson attempt of the Al-Aqsa Mosque by a crazed Christian tourist, and Palestinian officials exploited the event to voice again the assertion that the mosque is still under threat by Israel.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

On Aug. 21, 1969, an Australian Christian fundamentalist set fire to a pulpit in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, aiming to bring about what he believed was the second coming of Jesus Christ. He was later tried in Israel, found to be insane and deported back to Australia

In a press conference, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein accused Israel of “violations,” including the killing of Palestinians in the Al-Aqsa compound, were “another type of fire which keeps burning the Al-Aqsa mosque and the city of Jerusalem, and has been burning for 47 years.”

He declared that the entire city of Jerusalem belongs to Islam and the Arabs, and must be defended against the Jews, again denying any Jewish ties to the city.

“Each floor of the holy city, every remnant of the city, and every centimeter attest to the fact that it is an Arab and Islamic city, whose roots lie deep in history and culture,” he declared.

The Temple Mount has been the site of multiple incidents of Palestinian violence and friction with Israel’s authorities.

The Palestinian leadership has repeatedly alleged that Israel is hatching a nefarious plot to somehow destroy the Temple Mount – incitement which has led to an almost year-long wave of Palestinian terror attacks that have left 39 dead and some 500 wounded.

The site is the place where the first two Jewish Temples stood and is the holiest site to Judaism, while Palestinians deny that the Temples ever existed.