UNESCO chief criticizes anti-Israel resolution

UNESCO Director General speaks out against resolution that disregards the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

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Elad Benari, Canada,

Irina Bokova
Irina Bokova
Reuters

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova on Friday spoke out against the agency's executive board decision to adopt a resolution that disregards the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett was unimpressed by Bokova’s statement, however, saying it was not enough.

"The Al Aqsa Mosque [or] Al-Haram al-Sharif, the sacred shrine of Muslims, is also the Har HaBayit – or Temple Mount – whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism," Bokova said in a statement Friday, according to Haaretz.

"Jerusalem is the sacred city of the three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam," she stressed, adding, "It is in recognition of this exceptional diversity, and this cultural and religious coexistence, that it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

“The heritage of Jerusalem is indivisible, and each of its communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city. To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site," said Bokova, who noted that Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy texts offer testimony as to their presence in Jerusalem.

"In the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant," she said. "In the Bible, Jerusalem is the city of the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the [Koran], Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam, where Muhammad arrived after his night journey from Al Haram Mosq (Mecca) to Al-Aqsa,” she said, while also stressing that UNESCO’s role is to promote dialogue and co-existence, not confrontation.

"We have to bridge the divisions that harm the multi-faith character of the Old City," Bokova added, according to Haaretz. “When these divisions carry over into UNESCO, they prevent us from carrying out our mission. UNESCO's responsibility is to foster this spirit of tolerance and respect for history."

The resolution was supported by 24 states, including Russia and China. Six countries opposed and 26 abstained.

The resolution maintains that the Western Wall and Temple Mount will be referred to by their Arabic names and the Hebrew terms for the sites will only appear in quotation marks in UN references.

Bennett responded to Bokova's statement and said it was "insufficient", adding, "The tailwind UNESCO gives to terrorism will only stop once the organization annuls the scandalous resolution from yesterday – a motion that denies history to please Israel's haters."

"Words are important, but they are not a substitute for actions taken by the organization she heads," he stressed.

Earlier on Friday Bennett, who is also president of Israel's National Commission for UNESCO, suspended all activities in conjunction with the international organization.

"The Israeli committee will cease all participation. There will be no more meetings with UNESCO representatives, or participation in international conferences. There will be no professional cooperation between us and an organization that backs terror," Bennett's office told the press.

Israeli officials blasted the resolution on Thursday, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu saying, "The UNESCO theater show goes on. Today it took a ridiculous decision denying the connection between the Jewish people and the Western Wall.

"It's like saying that the Chinese have no connection to the Great Wall of China and the Egyptians have no connection to the pyramids," added Netanyahu.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein also spoke out against the UN, saying that the UN is "disconnected from reality and history."

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)








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