UNESCO chairman apologizes for decision

UNESCO chairman apologizes, says he will use connections to bring back 40-year consensus.

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Arutz Sheva Staff,

Jerusalem Old City
Jerusalem Old City
Israel news photo: Flash 90

In an interview with Channel 10 on Friday, UNESCO chairman Michael Verbes said, "I am aware of the connection between Israel and Jerusalem, and I will never deny it. Jerusalem's Old City and its walls are a UNESCO world heritage site since 1982, and have been recorded as being holy to three religions. This is our stance on the issue, and it trumps all decisions that the principal committee has recently made."

Last week, UNESCO declared that Israel and the Jewish people have no connection to the Temple Mount or the Western Wall. In their declaration, they used only the Muslim names for these sites, and stated that Israel was "occupying" Jerusalem.

Verbes also said, "I understand Israelis' feelings on this matter. But it's just an internal government discussion, not an UNESCO discussion. This is just the forum in which the discussion takes place."

Verbes turned to the Israeli public and asked that they not confuse UNESCO's recent decision with the organization's stance on the matter.

"We usually agree completely with these decisions. What happened is very rare, and I'm sorry about it. I will use my connections to bring back the consensus on Jerusalem which UNESCO has held for forty years," he promised.

On Friday, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova also criticized the decision, saying Jerusalem was King David's capital. Prime Minister suggested that those who made the decision look at the Arch of Titus in Rome, built in the first century, which has bas-reliefs depicting the treasures taken as spoils by the Roman legion after destroying the Temple in 70 C.E.

"As I explained before, Jerusalem is a holy city to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Denying, negating, or erasing the traditions of these religions will compromise the unity of the city," she said.