Barkat Bashes British Ban of Tourism Ad Showing Western Wall

Britain has banned an Israeli tourism ad because it "misleads” the public to think that the Western Wall and Temple Mount are part of the country.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu and Gil Ronen, | updated: 18:02

"Offensive" ad in Britain
"Offensive" ad in Britain
Israel news photo: Tourism Ministry

"The Kotel is the heart of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and it will forever remain the center of a united Jerusalem,” Mayor Nir Barkat said in a response to a British decision to ban a tourism advertisment that features the Kotel (Western Wall) and Temple Mount..

The British move “shames the people who made it,” Barkat said, “and betrays an ignorance of history. In the future, the Jerusalem Municipality and the State of Israel will continue to publicize Jerusalem's important sites in both eastern and western Jerusalem – with the Kotel at their center.”

Ad 'misleading'
Britain banned an Israeli Tourism Ministry ad because it "misleads” the public to think that the Western Wall and Temple Mount are part of the country. The publicity was banned by the government advertising regulator.

Britain, like the United States and most of the international community, do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the parts of Jerusalem that were restored to Jewish sovereignty during the 1967 Six-Day War.

The "problematic” ad, with the pictures of the holy sites, tells readers that they can "travel the entire length of Israel in six hours.”

The Advertising Standards Authority prohibited the advertisement after receiving a complaint that the pictures show sites that are located in the ”occupied territories” and implies they are part of the country. Israeli Tourism Ministry official said the advertisement contains “accurate information.”

"The status of the occupied territory of the West Bank [is] the subject of much international dispute, and because we considered that the ad implied that the part of East Jerusalem featured in the image was part of the state of Israel, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead," the British agency said, as quoted by the London Guardian and Jewish Chronicle.

A remnant from past millennia
The Kotel is a remnant of the outer wall of the Temple Mount compound that housed the Jewish Temples for more than 1,000 years, until the year 70 CE. It is the Jewish People's holiest site.

When British occupying forces left the Land of Israel in 1948, Jordanian forces overran Jewish defenders in the Old City and took the Temple Mount, but there was never any international recognition of Jordan's sovereignty there. Jordan did not allow Jews into the area. Israel liberated the Old City, including the Temple Mount and Kotel, 19 years later.

Israel advocate Dr. Emmanuel Navon commented Wednesday that "East Jerusalem was never part of a sovereign country in modern times. Either you consider Jordan’s 1949 annexation as illegal and illegitimate and then Israel did not conquer a sovereign land in 1967, or you do consider Jordan’s 1949 annexation as legal and legitimate and then Israel’s 1967 annexation is even more so since it was the result of a war of self-defense and not of aggression."