netanyahu and ban ki-moon.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The United Nations should not erase 4,000 years of historic Jewish connection to the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb just to score a political point, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the organization’s Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon when the two men meet Monday evening in New York.
“The Jewish nation has had a deep connection to [these two sites] for close to 4,000 years,” Netanyahu told Ban, as he urged him to change a recent declaration by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization that said the two West Bank biblical sites were an integral part of “occupied” Palestine.
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UNESCO also listed the sites first as the Moslem mosques Al-Haram Al -Ibrahimi and Bilal Bin Rabath. It only spoke of them secondarily by their Jewish names.
“More than a billion people recognize this connection, which is documented in the Bible,” Netanyahu said. Don’t “distort historical facts” for political gain, he told Ban.
“It will only harm the UN’s standing and the manner in which serious people treat it around the world,” Netanyahu said.
Earlier in the week, Israel said that it would not cooperate with UNESCO decisions and actions regarding these sites.
Moving onto other topics, Netanyahu told Ban of his intention to withdraw from the northern part of Ghajar village, located on the Lebanese border in the Golan Heights.
Upon his return to Israel, he plans to ask the Security Cabinet to approve a withdrawal plan that is based on Israeli conversations with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
According to a spokesperson from the secretary-general’s office, the two men also discussed Iran and the ongoing efforts to move the Middle East peace process forward.
“The secretary-general emphasized that it was vital to break the current diplomatic stalemate, resume negotiations and produce results,” the spokesperson said. “He expressed concern at the resumption of the settlement activity and recent announcements of further settlement construction in east Jerusalem.”
In addition, Ban “expressed hope for further measures by the government of Israel to ease the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza,” the spokesperson said.
The two men met for under an hour shortly after Netanyahu arrived in New York from New Orleans, and almost immediately prior to the secretary-general’s departure for Asia.
Netanyahu also met with former US president Bill Clinton and Israel’s temporary ambassador to the UN, Meron Reuben.