On Thursday, the day after Yom Kippur when God judges all of creation, the United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed its resolution on “Occupied Palestine” in Paris, listing all of Judaism’s holiest sites as Islamic, while blaming Israel for the violence in the region.
Times of Israel published the entire text of the resolution. Some of the more egregious points are:
-It refers to the holy sites in Arabic, “Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif and its surroundings”. The Temple Mount is noted to be “a Muslim holy site of worship and as an integral part of a world cultural heritage site”.
-The resolution dealt mainly with Jerusalem, but it also mentions sites in Hebron and Bethlehem as being Muslim cultural sites.
-Israel is condemned in the resolution for not preventing Palestinian construction work that destroys archaeological artifacts, referring to Israel as the “Occupying power” in Jerusalem. At the same time, it condemns Israel for “the forceful entering into the different mosques and historic buildings … [by] different Israeli employees including the so-called ‘Israeli Antiquities’ officials.
-The resolution condemns Israel for “escalating aggressions”.
-It condemns Israel for restricting the freedom of worship on the Temple Mount while making no mention of the fact that non-Muslims are entirely prohibited from worshiping at the site.
-UNESCO blames Israel for the “continuous storming of Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif by Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces”.
-The resolution lists the Mughrabi Ascent used by non-Muslims to visit the site as part of the Muslim heritage, while decrying Israeli changes to the site, including erecting an umbrella.
-It refers to Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron as the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque and Al Haram Al Ibrahimi.
-It blames the year long wave of violence in Israel on “the constant aggressions by the Israeli settlers and other extremist groups against Palestinian residents”.
-The resolution also blames Israel for confrontations in Gaza, and condemns the Israeli blockade.
The words “Temple Mount” were never mentioned in the resolution. The only time the word “Jewish” was used in the resolution was when it called to remove the “new Jewish prayer platform south of the Mughrabi Ascent in Al-Buraq Plaza ‘Western Wall Plaza'”.
The draft resolution was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan.
The 24 countries that voted in favor of the resolution were Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chad, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam.
The 26 countries that abstained from the vote were Albania, Argentina, Cameroon, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, India, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, Paraguay, Saint Vincent and Nevis, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Ukraine.
Voting against were Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States.
Serbia and Turkmenistan were absent from the vote.
On Thursday, Israel’s Ambassador to the Vatican, Oren David, contacted Antoine Camilleri, the Vatican’s Under-Secretary for Relations with States to ask that the Vatican help Israel, noting that the resolution also puts in danger any Christian connections to the Holy Land. The Vatican has observer status in the UN, as does the Palestinian Authority, and cannot vote. The Vatican’s response is not known.
The resolution will be referred to UNESCO’s executive board for formal approval next week.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted strongly to the vote.
“The theater of the absurd continues with UNESCO and today the organization has made its most bizarre decision by saying the people of Israel have no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.”
“Obviously they have never read the Bible,” Netanyahu said, “but I would advise UNESCO members to visit the Arch of Titus in Rome, where they can see what the Romans brought to Rome after they destroyed and looted the Temple Mount two thousand years ago. One can see engraved on the arch the seven-branched menorah, which is the symbol of the Jewish people as well as the symbol of the Jewish State today.”
“Surely UNESCO will say that Emperor Titus was a part of Zionist propaganda,” he said cynically. “To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall is like saying China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or Egypt has no connection to the pyramids. With this absurd decision, UNESCO has lost what little legitimacy it once had. However, I believe that the historical truth will prevail.”