Following the passing of a contentious resolution denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount or Western Wall in Jerusalem, another body within the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) is set to vote on a similar statement declaring the sites holy to Muslims alone.
While Israeli officials and diplomats are working hard to convince member states on the World Heritage Committee (WHC) to redeem UNESCO’s credibility by voting against the blatant insult to the Bible, documented history, and scientific archaeology, the resolution is expected to pass easily after the success of its predecessor. The vote will be taken Wednesday.
Entitled “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls”, the new resolution shares similar language with the first, referring to the Temple Mount – the holiest site in Judaism, as it once housed the Jewish Temples – as “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif” and defining it as “a Muslim holy site of worship.”
The draft of the resolution contains not a single reference to Jewish or Christian ties to the holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City. However, officials say the final draft may include a mention of “the three monotheistic religions” in order to court Western countries’ support for the resolution.
Last week’s resolution by UNESCO blatantly denied any Jewish significance at the sites, kowtowing to the Palestinian agenda to essentially rewrite the history of the Temple Mount, where Muslims are allowed to pray freely but worship is forbidden to Jews, Christians and other pilgrims.
The passing of the first resolution raised international fury and even internal criticism, with UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova, issuing a statement strongly denouncing the decision and calling the Temple Mount’s Western Wall “the holiest site in Judaism.”
“To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site,” she said.
Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally that the decision was patently outrageous.
“To say that the Jewish people have no connection to Jerusalem is like saying that the sun creates darkness,” Renzi said.
Italy abstained from voting on the resolution.
Mexico and Brazil, which both voted in favor, later said they regretted the decision to do so and would abstain from similar votes in the future.
The Palestinian Authority and Jordan, which controls the Temple Mount complex, want the new resolution to pass with the full consensus of all 21 WHC members. On Monday, they sent letters to the member states, asking each to clarify their positions.
Without full approval, they said, they would alter and resubmit the text with language that Israel’s UNESCO ambassador, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, said would be even more anti-Israel.
“They are broadcasting a message that says don’t abandon us or we’ll burn the house down with extremist anti-Israel resolutions,” said Shama-Hacohen, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Shama-Hacohen called the resolutions “diplomatic jihad against the Jewish people.”
The 21 WHC member states are Finland, Poland, Portugal, Croatia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Cuba, Jamaica, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Angola and Tanzania.