UNESCO headquarters in Paris
UNESCO headquarters in ParisReuters

The government of Israel has taken the unusual step of asking the Vatican for help in preventing a UNESCO vote denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount or the Western Wall.

Though the Vatican only holds observer status at UNESCO, meaning it cannot vote, it still plays a role in the behind-the-scenes dynamics of the organization.

Israel's Ambassador to the Vatican, Oren David, contacted Antoine Camilleri, the Vatican's Under-Secretary for Relations with States to ask that the Vatican work to convince UNESCO's member states to vote against a Palestinian initiative which would refer to the Western Wall and Temple Mount by their Arabic names and only use the Hebrew terms for the sites in quotation marks.

Israel has tried to make the point that such a resolution would harm Christian interests in Jerusalem as well as Jewish interests.

Much like other UN organizations, UNESCO has an automatic anti-Israel majority.

Israel and the US have both worked against the resolution. Yesterday, a group of US Congressmen signed a letter to UNESCO urging the organization not to attempt to rewrite history.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin used the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot to criticize the resolution Thursday, saying "There is no festival more connected to Jerusalem than Sukkot. The festivals of Israel all highlight the inextricable bond between our people and our land, and no forum or body in the world can come and deny the connection between the Jewish people, the Land of Israel and Jerusalem—and any such body that does so simply embarrasses itself."