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New UNESCO resolution ignores Judaism’s connection to Temple Mount

The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has approved a resolution on October 26 regarding the conservation status of Jerusalem's Old City. The resolution drew ire from Israelis who say the United Nations prepared document denies the deep ties of Judaism to the site. The U.S. agreed and called the resolution “inflammatory.”

During a secret ballot, the cultural wing of the UN consented to retain the city's walled area on the list of world heritage sites in danger of being destroyed. The area is home to important Jewish, Muslim, and Christian sites. Israel was criticized by the UN for its repeated refusal to allow the experts to assess the holy sites in Jerusalem.

Another problem is the document refers to the Jerusalem site exclusively by its Arab name, al-Haram al-Sharif, translated from Arabic as Noble Sanctuary. It does not mention the site by the name Jews refer to it as, Temple Mount. The document includes Dome of The Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque as well. The site is considered to be Islam's third holiest, coming right after Saudi Arabia-located Mecca and Medina, but it is the number one most holy site to Jews.

Israel for its part has protested vociferously against the UN move. It showed an extremely old Hebrew text fragment that referenced Jerusalem. The West Asian state recalled its ambassador appointed to UNESCO. The text took the form of a papyrus, seemingly from 7th century BCE. It is believed to be the oldest Hebrew reference for Jerusalem outside the Bible.

Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate from the Democratic Party, waded into the row, saying it was wrong and disappointing that UNESCO was considering a resolution which clearly fails to respect and recognize the historic and deep ties forged by Jews towards Jerusalem and its holy sites.

Carmel Shama-Hacohen, the Ambassador of Israel to UNESCO, severely criticized the stance adopted by the committee. He said the committee members have taken a resolution which goes against the truth of history and in complete contradiction to all the values. Palestinian officials, on the other hand, insists the UN resolution refers to issues within Muslim worship places and thus the language is justified.

The contentious site is under the Waqf administration. It is a religious institution under control of the Jordanian king. It governs rights of worship and visitation, along with management and repairs.


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