By Michael Bachner/TPS
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Thursday that United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will “humiliate itself” if the world body approves, as expected, a draft resolution denying Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and other holy sites in Jerusalem.
“No forum in the world can come and say there is no connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem,” Rivlin said. “A body that does so is simply humiliating itself. History cannot be changed.”
UNESCO is scheduled to vote Thursday on a Palestinian Authority initiative condemning Israel for its conduct in and around Jerusalem’s Old City and denying Jewish ties to the city’s holy sites. The group is also expected to approve another anti-Israel resolution filed by the PA during the UNESCO Executive Board convention in Paris on October 23-25.
The resolution focuses on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third holiest, and contains no reference to the compound’s holiness to Jews. The draft refers to it the Mount only by its Muslim name, al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary. Even the Western Wall, an iconic Jewish site, is mentioned in the resolution mainly by its Arabic name, al-Buraq Plaza.
The resolution also denies any Christian connection to the sites and to the Old City, describing them as holy to Muslims only.
Both UNESCO and the Israel Antiquities Authority refused on Thursday to comment on the expected resolution, citing political reasons, but a slew of Israeli politicians slammed the expected approval. MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) called it “a shameful resolution meant to pressure Israel and erase the proven historical ties between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount and Western Wall,” adding that “our political status has never been worse.”
In the United States, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl) led a bipartisan effort criticizing UNESCO for trying to “delegitimize Israel.”
“Numerous archaeological excavations have uncovered a myriad of antiquities that scientifically prove the historical connection of all three religions to Jerusalem, such as the discovery of the Pool of Siloam or the restoration of floor tiles of the Second Temple in the City of David,” read the letter. “Yet, this resolution seems to prioritize the Muslim heritage of the Old City, while diminishing the ties of either of the other religions,” said the letter, signed by 39 Republicans and Democrats.
“The United Nations’ obsessive hostility towards Israel will be on display yet again this week,” added Cruz. “This resolution flies in the face of, among other things, science as recent archaeological excavations, notably in the City of David, have revealed incontrovertible, physical evidence that reaffirms Jewish and Christian ties to the holy city of Jerusalem. Members of the UNESCO Executive Board should vote against this intentional campaign to deny these historical truths, rewrite the history of Jerusalem, and delegitimize Israel.”