As the wave of Palestinian knife attacks continues, and the Palestinians follow up on burning down the tomb of Joseph by lobbing firebombs near the tomb of Rachel, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has passed an Arab-drafted resolution condemning Israel.
The resolution, drafted by Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates, condemned Israel for “failing to protect heritage sites and rebuild regions destroyed by war,” according to an AFP report. Israeli actions at the Temple Mount were denounced, “including restricting access to Muslim worshippers during Eid celebrations last month on security grounds.”
The resolution “deeply deplores the recent repression in East Jerusalem, and the failure of Israel, the Occupying Power, to cease the persistent excavations and works in East Jerusalem particularly in and around the Old City.”
It calls for “prompt reconstruction of schools, universities, cultural heritage sites, cultural institutions, media centers and places of worship that have been destroyed or damaged by the consecutive Israeli wars on Gaza.”
Those so resolved are not interested in dwelling on why Israel found it necessary to restrict access to the Temple Mount, or why it was necessary to conduct military operations against Palestinian rocket launchers and terror tunnels in Gaza that were targeting Israeli civilians.
AFP notes the resolution was changed at the last minute to “remove a controversial clause saying the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest site at which Jews can pray, is an ‘integral part’ of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.” Israel National News notes that even UNESCO’s Director-General was moved to speak up against this particular provision.
Outrageous language that would have described Jerusalem as the “occupied capital of Palestine” was also toned down, as was the condemnation of the Israeli government for advising its citizens to arm theselves against Palestinian knife attacks, according to the Times of Israel.
However, Israel National News notes that the Cave of the Patriarchs and the nearly-firebombed Rachel’s Tomb, which are “regular sites of pilgrimage for Jewish worshipers,” were co-opted as Muslim holy sites.
The resolution was opposed by the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Estonia.
“The language is unacceptable, and we don’t think it’s helpful to bring in a provocative motion at times of tensions,” said a British official quoted by the Times of Israel. “We regret that there wasn’t more time to discuss the motion.”
UNESCO director Irina Borkova, who evidently sought to delay the vote for as long as possible to allow more time for discussion, issued a statement calling upon her own organization to “Take decisions that do not further inflame tensions on the ground and that encourage respect for the sanctity of the Holy Sites.”
Borkova went even further when postponing the vote from Tuesday to Wednesday, saying she “deplored” the resolution, because it “could be seen to alter the status of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls and incite further tensions.”
Given the nature of the conflict playing out in Jerusalem, which began with Palestinian propaganda centered around an alleged Israeli plot to kick Muslims out of the Temple Mount, the UNESCO resolution is likely to provide the very inflammation of tensions its director warned against.