Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday harshly condemned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for a speech given at a conference in Qatar in which Abbas claimed that Israel is "trying to erase the Arab, Muslim, and Christian nature of Jerusalem".
Netanyahu characterized Abbas' speech as "severe incitement".
"This was a speech of severe incitement coming from the mouth of someone who supposedly claims that he seeks peace," a statement from Netanyahu's office said. "The time has come for the Palestinian leadership to stop denying the past and distorting reality. Since thousands of years, Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people. Under Israeli sovereignty, Jerusalem will continue to be open to members of all faiths. There is complete freedom of worship for everyone and Israel will continue to devotedly protect the holy places of all religions."
"Abbas knows well that there is no foundation for his allusions, including the baseless claims regarding the al-Aqsa mosque. Israel expects that someone who seemingly stands for peace will prepare his people for peace and coexistence and not spread lies and incitement."
In his speech, Abbas compared Israel's control of Jerusalem to the Roman and Crusader occupations of the city. Abbas cast doubt on the existence of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and accused Israel of trying to harm the al-Aqsa mosque. He also called on Muslims from around the world to come to Jerusalem.
Abbas asserted that Israel is using various means to conduct ethnic cleansing against the Arab residents of East Jerusalem.
"[Israel's] goal to Judaize Jerusalem and position it as the capital of the occupation state," Abbas said.