Jerusalem's Old City and the Temple Mount.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel warned the European Union on Thursday night that supporting a UNESCO resolution which views the Temple Mount as a solely Muslim site is akin to ignoring Europe’s Christian roots.
“If the Europeans have a hand in a UNESCO decision that rejects or does not deal with the Jewish people’s relationship to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem, are they not rejecting their own identity?” asked Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon.
“There is no Christianity without Judaism and there is no Jesus without a Jewish Jerusalem and the Temple Mount,” he said.
The EU, he warned, could be willing to make this “ugly and hypocritical gesture to the Palestinians.”
He also issued a slightly toned down version of the message on Twitter.
Emmanuel spoke out after learning that EU representatives in Istanbul could be putting forward a resolution on Jerusalem that spoke of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, exclusively by its Muslim name of al-Haram al-Sharif.
This was the case, he said, even though some of its member states – namely the United Kingdom, France and Germany – have opposed such a one-sided text.
Jordan and the Palestinians are pushing for a resolution to this effect to be approved by the 21 members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee, which is meeting in Istanbul from July 10 to 20 to vote on new sites for its World Heritage List.
It is also reaffirming its list of endangered sites, such as the Temple Mount.
In 1981, Jordan placed Jerusalem and its Old City walls on the list of endangered historic sites. “Palestine,” which was accepted as a UNESCO member state in 2011, placed Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity on the World Heritage list in 2012. It was followed two years later by the biblical terraces of Battir.
On Tuesday the committee reaffirmed their placement on the list. A Jerusalem resolution was not discussed at that point or even mentioned.
This led to media speculation that the resolution had been shelved. But Israel said on Thursday that the opposite is true.
After Israel’s initial objection, the EU attempted to find a compromise text and is poised to submit a new draft resolution.
But Israel has learned that is still does not speak of the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount which is Judaism’s holiest site.
“We’re not optimistic,” Nachshon said.
According to UNESCO it can be voted on as late as Tuesday morning.
The countries on the committee are Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
But the battle for and against the resolution has involved a much wider list of countries than exist on the committee.
“Palestine” began its UNESCO campaign to reclassify Judaism’s holiest site in October, but failed to garner enough support for a resolution that would have formally declared the area as an exclusively Muslim shrine.
Still, when UNESCO’s 58-member Executive Board met in Paris in April it adopted a resolution that spoke solely of Muslim ties to the Temple Mount.
“Palestine” and Jordan used the same language in the resolution that it now hopes to pass before the World Heritage Committee.