TEL AVIV – After UNESCO’s executive board voted in favor of a resolution that entirely ignored any Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and Western Wall area, Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold wrote a letter “registering Israel’s protest in the strongest terms.”
Gold’s letter, which was addressed to the 33 countries that voted for the resolution, came five days after Yesh Atid MK Yair Lapid wrote a harshly-worded letter to UNESCO head Irina Bokova.
Bokova tried to distance herself from the resolution, writing to Lapid, ““This decision was made by the economic council and the management council of UNESCO, which are both management bodies, and was not made by me,”
Gold labelled the resolution “outrageous” and in another letter to his colleagues at the Foreign Ministry he said it was “part of a disturbing trend that seeks to deny the deep-rooted links between the Jewish people and the State of Israel, with their historic capital.”
He further noted that the absence of the term “Temple Mount” win favor of the Muslim names al-Aksa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif.
“Even the Western Wall, the Jewish people’s most sacred site after the Temple Mount, is referred to by UNESCO in quotation marks, as though it is not commonly accepted language, while clear preference is given to call it instead al-Buraq, recalling the Islamic tradition alone,” Gold wrote.
He added that every reference to Judaism was marked with cynicism or make-believe, such as “Jewish fake graves,” and “so called Jewish ritual baths.”
“Under Israeli administration, people of all faiths have been able to enjoy access to their holy places in Jerusalem for the first time in decades,” he wrote.
“Far from recognizing and supporting this vital principle of mutual respect between faiths and peoples, this resolution only serves to undermine it.”
The resolution was presented by several Arab countries on the subject of “Occupied Palestine.” Israel is never named and is instead referred to as the “Occupying power.”
Countries outside of Arab nations that voted in favor of the resolution included China, Egypt, France, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Spain and Vietnam.
Six countries voted against the resolution – Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the US – while 17 abstained.