Three weeks after renaming the Western Wall Al-Buraq, a Muslim holy site, the UN is now considering a demand by the Palestinian Authority to censor an exhibition because it mentions a Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
The furor surrounds an exhibit in a corridor near a popular cafe in the UN basement. Several panels depict Israel’s Arabs, its technology innovations and other aspects of Israeli life. One panel shows Jerusalem, referring to it as “the spiritual and physical capital of the Jewish people.”
Palestinian Charge d’Affaires Feda Abdelhady-Nasser wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft demanding the panel be removed.
The letter said any references “which purport to assert Israeli sovereignty on this land…are legally, politically and morally incorrect and unacceptable.”
In the letter, which was also circulated publicly, Abdelhady-Nasser said the “misleading and inappropriate depictions of Jerusalem…negate the Palestinian existence in the city as well as its historical Arab, Muslim and Christian identity and heritage over the centuries.”
She said the UN Security Council and General Assembly “have clearly rejected Israel’s illegal annexation of east Jerusalem” and called on Ban and Lykketoft to take “the necessary measures for the removal of the … panel.”
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Israeli mission followed the rules for mounting an exhibition.
“While the UN tries to balance the wishes of the country wishing to exhibit without offending another country”, he said, it “is not an exact science and…is not always easy.”
Sections of the exhibition were ordered removed by UN officials in April, but the decision was reversed after Israel protested.
Jerusalem was declared the capital when Israel became a nation in 1948, and that status was reinforced in 1967 when Israeli forces conquered the entire city. The Basic Law-Jerusalem in 1980 affirmed that the holy places of all religions be protected from desecration, free access to them be guaranteed.
The Palestinian Authority is demanding that Jerusalem be declared its capital, though the city has never been the capital of any other religion or nation other than the Jews. Jerusalem was largely neglected and ignored under the Ottoman Empire and Islamic claims to its holy sites, despite being accepted by UNESCO, are without basis.
Palestinian claims to the city contravene the UN’s original declaration that Jerusalem remain a ‘corpus separatum’, or international city administered by the UN.