Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinian leadership on Thursday to renounce an official Palestinian report asserting the Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites, is not Jewish, describing the report as "scandalous."
The article was posted on the website of the Palestinian information ministry on Monday, prompting a furious reaction from Israel.
"The Palestinian Authority information ministry's denial of the link between the Jewish people and the Western Wall is reprehensible and scandalous," Netanyahu was quoted as saying in a statement released by his office.
"The Western Wall has been the Jewish people's most sacred place for almost 2,000 years, since the destruction of the Second Temple," he said, urging President Mahmoud Abbas and premier Salam Fayyad "to disavow and condemn" the article.
Contacted by AFP on Wednesday, Palestinian Authority officials refused to comment on the document, and the author, deputy information minister Mutawakel Taha, refused to say whether his statements reflected the government's official stance on the Western Wall.
Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of "trying to distort historical facts" in order to deny the Jews' connection with the land and said it cast doubt on their willingness to reach a peace deal.
"When the Palestinian Authority denies the link between the Jewish people and the Western Wall, it calls into serious question its intentions of reaching a peace agreement, the foundations of which are coexistence and mutual recognition."
The article is a lengthy exposition on the history of the Western Wall, which is revered by Jews as the last remnant of the Second Temple and is Israel's biggest tourist attraction.
"The al-Buraq Wall is the western wall of al-Aqsa, which the Zionist occupation falsely claims ownership of and calls the Wailing Wall or Kotel," Taha wrote.
Above the Western Wall is the area known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary, which houses the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam.
The Western Wall fell into Jewish hands for the first time since the Roman era during the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel occupied and annexed east Jerusalem.
Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital, a claim not recognized by the international community. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of the state they want to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
U.S.-brokered peace talks are supposed to address the issue of Jerusalem, but the negotiations were put on hold by the Palestinians shortly after they began in September when Netanyahu refused to extend a partial building freeze in West Bank settlements.