TEL AVIV – The UNESCO vote on a controversial resolution ignoring Jewish historical ties to the Temple Mount was postponed Tuesday after Israel enlisted the help of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany to counter the draft text.
The resolution, submitted by Jordan and Palestine (recognized by the UN agency as a member state), refers to Israel as “the occupying power” and attacks Israeli practices around the Temple Mount, including accusations that Israel is engaged in “intrusive constructions, tunneling, and underground excavations” and “aggressions against religious sites and prayer places.”
The text only referred to the Western Wall once and even then only in quotation marks.
“There is an intense diplomatic effort on behalf of Israel to counter this text,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon.
The vote was shelved minutes before the vote, after the Palestinian and Jordanian delegations realized that it may not receive enough votes from the 21 members of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to pass.
Nachshon said the vote may still happen at a later date and he was working with various countries to voice their opposition to the text. So far, the UK, Germany, and France have supported Israel’s claim despite not being on the World Heritage Committee.
The Committee will meet in Istanbul in the coming week to vote on new sites for its World Heritage List. Jerusalem and the walls of the Old City are on both the World Heritage List and the endangered list.
The list of countries on the committee include: Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, United Republic of Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.
In October, UNESCO intended to vote on a resolution to the effect that the Temple Mount is exclusively a Muslim holy site, but backed off amid international pressure.
Nevertheless, the agency’s 58-member Executive Board adopted a resolution in April that entirely ignored any Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount, the site of both Jewish temples, is considered Judaism’s holiest site.
Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold slammed the UNESCO resolution for “distort[ing] history” and said the agency was “disconnected from reality” for accepting a “completely one-sided draft resolution on the Old City of Jerusalem that deliberately ignores the historical connection between the Jewish people and their ancient capital.”