The Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UNESCO called on Israel to halt all its archeological and restoration work in and around the Old City, as it submits its latest draft resolution on Jerusalem that ignores Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
Upon learning of the matter, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold on Monday issued a searing letter to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in which he accused them of being totally “disconnected from reality.”
“As the historical heritage sites of this area are being systematically destroyed by jihadist forces, such as the Islamic State, in Syria and Iraq, UNESCO’s adoption of utterly false allegations about Israeli archeological practices is misplaced and hypocritical, at best,” Gold said.
The resolution is due to be voted on in the next week by the 21-members of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee that is now meeting in Istanbul.
It was jointly submitted by Jordan and Palestine, which is recognized as a member state of UNESCO.
It asks that the committee maintain the Old City’s status as an endangered site. It has been a World Heritage site since 1981.
But part of the resolution attacks Israeli practices in the Old City, including its actions on the Temple Mount, which is known to Muslims as Al-Haram/Al-Sharif.
It speaks of the Western Wall once, and then, only in quotations.
UNESCO’s attempts to reclassify Judaism’s holiest site as an exclusively Muslim religious area began back in October.
UNESCO had intended to vote on a resolution to that effect, but backed away from it under international pressure.
But it has since begun to put such a reclassification into practice in a de-facto way, by referring to the area exclusively in Muslim terms, as if no Jewish history had occurred there.
When UNESCO’s 58-member Executive Board met in Paris in April it adopted a resolution whose language ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, even though it is considered holy by all three religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The resolution now before the World Heritage Committee, “also fails to acknowledge Christianity’s ties to Jerusalem,” Gold said.
The Jewish people, Gold told UNESCO, have maintained their connection to Jerusalem from ancient to modern times, even though the Old City was “ethnically cleansed” of Jews from 1948 to 1967.
Since Jews returned to the Old City, Gold said, they have defended the rights of all three faiths.
“We urge you to oppose this effort to distort history, which will offend the members of the Jewish and Christian faiths, and undermine the credibility of UNESCO in the future,” Gold wrote.