Jerusalem's Old City and the Temple Mount.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel slammed the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Tuesday for adopting a “completely one-sided resolution” on the Old City of Jerusalem that “deliberately ignores the historical connection between the Jewish people and their ancient capital.”
The resolution, adopted by the World Heritage Committee meeting in Bonn, Germany, takes Israel to task for – among other grievances – the following allegations: engaging in “illegal excavations” in the Old City; causing damage to structures on the Temple Mount; impeding restoration work on the Temple Mount; and damaging the “visual integrity” of the Old City with the Jerusalem light rail.
It also deplored various Israeli projects in and around the Old City and the Western Wall Plaza, which it referred to as the “Buraq Plaza.”
Foreign Ministry director- general Dore Gold issued a statement saying that not only does the resolution gloss over any Jewish connection to Jerusalem, it also fails to acknowledge Christianity’s ties to Jerusalem and refers to the Temple Mount area only as a “Muslim holy site of worship.”
“In fact, the Jewish attachment to Jerusalem has survived from ancient to modern times,” Gold said. “The Jewish people restored their majority in Jerusalem in the mid- 19th century. Their ancient synagogues were destroyed and desecrated by a coalition of invading armies in 1948, who ethnically cleansed the Old City of any Jewish presence.”
It is Israel that defends religious freedom “against the tide of intolerance” sweeping the Middle East, he added.
“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,” he said. “The resolution is full of distortions and is totally disconnected from reality on the ground,” he concluded.
On Sunday the World Heritage Committee placed the ancient Jewish town of Beit She’arim in the Galilee, with its tombs and sarcophagi, on its list of World Heritage Sites.
Beit She’arim, in the lower Galilee, joints eight other Israeli sites on that list.