Amid international outcry, Israel has claimed a rare victory at the United Nations on Wednesday after the Palestinian delegation dropped its bid that the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declare the Western Wall a Muslim holy site.
The resolution, which was submitted on behalf of the Palestinian Authority by six Arab states, demanded that the Western Wall be recognized as an “integral part” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount.
While the bid to take over the Western Wall was dropped, the Palestinians are still requesting that Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron be declared Muslim sites. The Western Wall is considered part of Judaism’s most holy site, the Temple Mount.
Israel has vowed to fight the resolution, which also calls on the UN to condemn Israel for advising “its citizens to bear arms in light of recent terror wave” as well as security actions by the IDF and Israel Police in “the occupied capital of Palestine.”
Palestinian officials have stated that the current wave of terror attacks against Israel are in defense of Al-Aqsa and Israel’s supposed attempts to change the status quo on the Temple Mount.
Palestinian diplomats are calling on the UN to denounce Israel for “aggression and illegal measures taken against the freedom of worship and access of Muslims to Al-Aqsa Mosque and Israel’s attempts to break the status quo since 1967.”
On Tuesday, Irina Bokova, the head of the United Nations cultural agency, said she “deplored” the Palestinian proposal, which she warned “could be seen to alter the status of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls and incite further tensions.”
Bokova called on UNESCO “to take decisions that do no further inflame tensions on the ground and that encourage respect for the sanctity of the Holy Sites.”
In Israel, while meeting with UN Secretary Ban ki-Moon, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said efforts to increase tension in Israel must be rejected.
“The United Nations and all its institutions have a responsibility to work against any escalation of the conflict,” the president stated. “UNESCO must reject any attempt to deny the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.”