A week after the executive board of UNESCO approved a resolution that largely ignored Jewish and Christian ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall while accusing “occupying power” Israel of a range of offenses against Muslim worship, another UNESCO body was expected to pass a resolution treating Judaism’s holiest site as strictly Muslim.
The 21-nation World Heritage Committee of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was scheduled to vote in Paris on Wednesday, Oct. 26, on the new resolution, “Old City of Jerusalem and Its Walls,” which uses only “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif” to refer to the Temple Mount and defines it only as “a Muslim holy site of worship.”
Unlike the resolution passed by a different UNESCO committee Oct. 13 and approved by the executive board Oct. 18, the new resolution excludes any acknowledgment of Jewish or Christian connections to Jerusalem’s holy sites. The Times of Israel reported that Israeli diplomats hope to get such language added to the resolution before it is enacted.
The new resolution has two improvements over what passed earlier in October: It does not refer to Israel as “the occupying power,” and it does not put quotation marks around the term Western Wall.
UNESCO’s director-general, who has no control over member-nations’ resolutions, has criticized both resolutions. In a letter to Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who cut off all cooperation with UNESCO in response to the first resolution, Irina Bokova promised to fight efforts to spread anti-Semitism or to delegitimize Israel, “including those drawing on partial or distorted visions of culture and history.”
The first resolution received wide condemnation from Israeli leaders, Jewish leaders and Christian leaders. One popular response to emphasize that more than Jewish history was being ignored involved a rewrite of Mathew 21:12: “And Jesus went into the temple of G-d, Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and cast out all them that sold and bought in Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold doves.”
The 21 nations that will vote on the new resolution are Finland, Poland, Portugal, Croatia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Cuba, Jamaica, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Angola and Tanzania.