Following UNESCO resolution on Western Wall, Netanyahu personally to offer Jewish history seminar to UN staff; UNESCO official rejects invitation
Prime Minister Netanyahu has offered to personally give a lecture on Jewish history for United Nations’ staff after the UNESCO’s Executive Board passed a motion mid-April labeling the Western Wall as “Al-Buraq Plaza” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The executive board adopted a resolution recognizing the Jewish site by its Arab name, Haram al-Sharif or “Holy Sanctuary”.
The resolution was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan, the resolution approved by 33 states. The United States, Germany, Lithuania, Estonia, United Kingdom and the Netherlands voted against, with 17 states abstaining.
The decision to publicly label one of the holiest sites for the Jewish people as a Muslim site was denounced by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Israeli MK’s and several organizations and lobbying groups. The resolution denies Jewish ties to the Temple Mount (Western Wall) and correlates with similar attempts by Arab nations from 1920 to recognize the Jewish site as a Muslim site.
Last year, UNESCO passed a resolution listing both the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem as Muslim sites.
Prime Minister Netanyahu reacted to UNESCO’s decision Friday by not only denouncing the resolution and offering a Jewish history seminar to United Nations’ staff. He stated on Friday “Two weeks ago, I was shocked to hear that UNESCO adopted a decision denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site. It is hard to believe that anyone, let alone an organization tasked with preserving history, could deny this link which spans thousands of years. That is why today I am announcing a seminar on Jewish history for all UN personnel in Israel. I will personally host the lecture at the Prime Minister’s Office. The seminar will be given by a leading scholar of Jewish history and will be free to all UN staff and diplomats, including of countries which voted for this outrageous decision.”
Netanyahu stated in April when the decision was made that “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.” A spokesman for the Prime Minister responded to the decision stating “The Jewish people’s connection to the Temple Mount goes back thousands of years. Denying that isn’t only ahistorical. It actually makes peace harder to achieve.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director Dr. Dor Gold, stated on the validity of the motion “while the UNESCO decision has no practical validity, we will not allow international sources to blur the connection of the Jewish nation to its eternal capital.”
On Saturday, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, rejected Prime Minister Netanyahu’s offer, stating “If somebody wants to send invitations, he can address them to Paris and to the member states’ ambassadors to UNESCO there. The UN staff in Jerusalem know the history of the region, its people and religions all too well.”