"The Western Wall - on all its various parts, structures and gates, and all the names these parts, structures and gates are called – is an inseparable part of the al-Aqsa compound," declared Islamist leader Sheikhh Raed Salah.
The Western Wall "is part of Al-Aqsa's western tower, which the Israeli establishment fallaciously and sneakily calls the 'Wailing Wall'. The wall is part of the holy al-Aqsa Mosque," added Salah, who heads the northern faction of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
However these statements were not made recently. Rather, they were made at a time when then Prime Minister Ehud Barak was sitting in a room at Camp David, trying to forge a peace agreement with Yasser Arafat's Palestinian government. But Salah still stands firmly behind them and they can be found on the Islamic Movement's website.
Those who believe in Jewish link to wall - traitors'
Two key issues have come into light following the recent events in Jerusalem, and Israelis will likely not be pleased with either: The first – Salah is establishing his position as a known Muslim leader struggling for the al-Aqsa Mosque (he is now known as the Sheikh of al-Aqsa).
The second – moving even the smallest pebble in the larger Temple Mount area will draw similar reactions, even if it is minor repair work to the Western Wall visitor's site. These works will again bring to confrontations born out of a claim that "Israel is harming the Temple Mount and desecrating a place holy to Muslims."
The reinforcement work to save the collapsing Mugrabi Gate walkway outside the Temple Mount was certainly not seen as such by the Islamic Movement in Israel and Salah immediately arrived at the scene to proclaim the project part of a wide-reaching Israeli plot to destroy the mosque.
According to Salah's sermons, which can be found on his group's websites, Jews have absolutely no connection to the 'al-Buraq Wall', the name given by Muslims to the site."The Mugrabi Gate is part of the western wall of al-Aqsa," says Salah in a sermon number 32, which can be found on his websites dedicated to his organization.
Salah also slams the notion of allowing Israel sovereignty over the Western Wall in exchange of Muslim sovereignty over the Temple Mount, accusing all those who would consider allowing Jews access to the Western Wall traitors.
"He who says that the Jews or the Israeli establishment has any right to al-Aqsa, even to just one stone - this is an abominable attack, a falsehood, completely baseless," says Salah, "he among Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims who accepts this, is a traitor to Allah and his prophet."
Not only the Western Wall is Muslim
But the current controversy is not the only such one, Salah and his followers launched a campaign last year against the construction of the 'Museum of Tolerance' in Jerusalem, saying it was being built on Muslim graveyard or any number of places in Safed or Yafo, where according to the Islamic Movement 'Jewish' buildings were constructed on the ruins of Muslim holy places.
Since his release from prison two years ago Sheikh Salah has been steadily building a name for himself as a leader for all Muslims, this despite the fact that he lives in Israel. By focusing on social issues he has won over people from the bottom up, though his followers say his humbleness, manners and simple attire also helped establish his persona as a leader. He is a daily newsmaker in the Arab media and for now, his star seems to only be rising.