UNESCO to vote on Jewish connection with the Temple Mount
The subject of the Jewish connection with the Temple Mount has once again been returned to the UN as Palestinians and Jordanians seek to repudiate Jewish affinity with any part of the compound.
The Israeli foreign ministry and Israeli embassies around the world are currently dedicating significant efforts to undermine the acceptance of the draft decision in UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) which also accuses Israel of causing damage to holy Islamic sites.
The draft decision is supposed to be voted upon by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO which meets once a year and consists of 21 representatives from the affiliate states.
Israel is seeking to exert greater pressure on the member states in an effort to prevent a recurrence of what took place in April when the committee unilaterally condemned “Israeli aggression on the Temple Mount,” and disregarded all Israeli or Jewish claims over the area, including the Wailing Wall.
The draft decision presented by the Palestinians and Jordanians includes a number of problematic points in relation to Israel. Firstly, the draft calls on Israel to return the Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa mosque to “the historic status quo,” a new phrase implying that the sites should be returned to their pre-1967 status.
The recommendations constitute another attempt to remove any Jewish presence from the Temple Mount. Moreover, the text repeatedly refers to the entire compound as an exclusively holy Muslim site and makes no exception on the issue of the Wailing wall. In October 2015, a similar attempt failed when brought before UNESCO.
Throughout the entire document, Israel is repeatedly alluded to as an occupying force on the Temple Mount while being accused of breaching international treaties such as the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention. According to the claims, Israel is causing damage to historic buildings on the mount, to gates, windows and to ceramics while simultaneously preventing repair and renovation projects initiated by the Jordanians.
According to Israeli officials, there is also an attempt to compose an indictment against Israel vis-a-vis its activities on the Temple Mount which will be presented to the Criminal Court of Justice in the Hague.
The Israeli ambassador at UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, said in response, “Anyone who thought that after the criticism voiced by Israeli and international Jewry against this decision and the recanting of the heads of state and foreign ministers around the world following the last decision that Palestinians would come to their senses need to come to their senses and internalize this complicated reality.”
“We have made a concerted diplomatic but the voting will be conducted by a secret ballot and the rules of the game are well known: Palestinians almost always have a majority.”
The foreign ministry released a statement slamming the Jordanian-Palestinian initiative: “The document that was presented to UNESCO is an another malicious and dishonest attempt to harm Israel’s affinity with its capital,” the statement read. “This is a tendentious text and we hope that it is does not receive support from the member states. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the nation of Israel and of Israel’s alone.”