UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova
UNESCO Director-General Irina BokovaReuters

The UN cultural body on Monday called for "respect and dialogue" following outrage over its vote divorcing the Temple Mount from the Jewish people, but did not take back its attempt to rewrite history at the holiest site in Judaism.

"Jerusalem is a Holy Land of the three monotheistic religions, a place of dialogue for all Jewish, Christian and Muslim people. Nothing should be undertaken to alter its integrity and authenticity," UNESCO chief Irina Bokova said in a statement.

"Only respect and dialogue can build the trust we need to move forward."

The UNESCO executive board on Thursday adopted a resolution on "Occupied Palestine" presented by several Arab countries.

It referred to Israel as the "occupying power" several times, and only referred to the Temple Mount as Al-Aqsa Mosque, likewise calling the Western Wall by the name Al-Buraq Wall, a term created in the 1920s by Arabs in an ahistorical attempt to claim the site.

The resolution criticized Israel for "excavations and works" in eastern Jerusalem, and urged it to stop "aggressions and illegal measures against the freedom of worship and Muslims' access" to the Temple Mount.

The resolution also outrageously accused Israel of "planting fake Jewish graves in Muslim cemeteries."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday night slammed the resolution as "yet another absurd UN decision."

"UNESCO ignores the unique historic connection of Judaism to the Temple Mount, where the two Temples stood for a thousand years and to which every Jew in the world has prayed for thousands of years. The UN is rewriting a basic part of human history and has again proven that there is no low to which it will not stoop."

Then on Sunday Science Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) slammed UNESCO for its "boorishness" in a letter to Bokova, noting how the decision shows a "resounding lack of historical knowledge."

Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute on Monday issued a sharp response to the decision, which "ignores the Jewish people’s connection to the Temple Mount is another  politically-motivated act of revisionist history, obscene even by the standards of this morally bankrupt organization."

"Judaism was founded over 3500 years ago; Islam dates to the seventh century. The resolution flies in the face of both the Bible, bedrock of civilization, archaeological evidence, and scholarship."

Despite being liberated in the 1967 Six Day War, the Jordanian Waqf has been allowed to maintain de facto control of the Temple Mount. Israeli police have kowtowed to the Waqf, banning Jews from praying at the site despite Israeli laws guaranteeing freedom of worship.

AFP contributed to this report.