Half a year after the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) accepted an initial resolution denying the Temple Mount’s place in Jewish history and the Jewish faith, the UN body is expected to pass another measure on Thursday portraying the Western Wall as a Muslim holy site.
In a recent UNESCO meeting, Arab states and the Palestinian Authority have pushed a new resolution, explicitly describing the Temple Mount as an exclusively Muslim holy site, referring to the site of both ancient Jewish temples by its Arabic name: Haram a-Sharif.
This time, however, the proposed UNESCO resolution also touches upon the Western Wall that surrounds the Temple Mount. Like the Temple Mount, the Western Wall is also referred to by the Arabic name, with the Hebrew name included in brackets.
Israeli diplomats called the move an attempt to discredit the ancient Jewish connection to the Western Wall in the eyes of the international community.
The resolution does recognize the importance of Jerusalem in general to the three major Abrahamic faiths, but observers noted that this was likely an attempt to make an otherwise transparently anti-Israel measure appear more balanced. The order of faiths mentioned in connection to Jerusalem is Islam, Christianity, and Judaism last.
Israeli diplomats have criticized previous efforts by UNESCO to deny the Jewish ties to historical sites in Jerusalem.
Earlier this week, US lawmakers including Texas Senator Ted Cruz launched a bipartisan effort against the planned UNESCO resolution.
“The Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, along with the Western Wall, where Jews from all over the world have come to pray, are described exclusively as Muslim holy sites and referred to only by their Muslim names,” the letter noted.
“When the Western Wall is referenced, it is only with quotation marks, implying that the title is unofficial and not based on historic fact.”
The letter continues, saying that “This unnecessarily divisive and selective resolution undermines the very purpose and integrity of UNESCO by seeking to rewrite Jerusalem's history.”
Thirty-nine US senators and House representatives have signed the letter thus far.