Al-Habbash's statement that Jews did not pray at the Western Wall in the past is historically unfounded. Both Jewish and non-Jewish sources document that the Western Wall was used for Jewish worship and prayer. For example, US President Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State William H. Seward visited Jerusalem in 1871 and described his experience in his bookTravels Around the World. He wrote in detail about the intense devotion of Jews in prayer at the Western Wall, which he called the "Jews' Wailing-Place." (See below a long quote from his book describing Jews' devotion at the Western Wall.) The above illustration of Jews in prayer at the Western Wall is from his book.
Palestinian Media Watch has documented that this ongoing PA denial of Jewish history in Israel and especially Jerusalem is a fundamental component of the PA's political program to deny Israel's right to exist. (See below.)
The following is the PA minister's statement denying a Jewish connection to the Western Wall:
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 18, 2012]
The following is the statement by PM Netanyahu at the Western Wall, as he lit the eighth candle of Chanukah, which prompted the PA minister's statement:
"June 13, 1871... Jerusalem is now divided according to its different classes of population. The Mohammedans are four thousand, and occupy the northeast quarter, including the whole area of the Mosque of Omar. The Jews are eight thousand, and have the southeast quarter... The Armenians number eighteen hundred, and have the southwest quarter; and the other Christians, amounting to twenty-two hundred, have the northwest quarter...
The Western Wall is a small section of the Temple Mount that has remained standing since Rome's destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. The PA teaches that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem nor was there a Jewish presence. This distortion of history is the basis for the PA stance that Jews/Israel have no right to Jerusalem and no right to pray at the Western Wall.
In keeping with this policy, PA TV broadcast a documentary in 2010 and 2011 that described Jews praying at the Western Wall as "sin and filth."