JERUSALEM – One week after UNESCO’s executive board ratified a resolution ignoring Jewish and Christian ties to the Temple Mount, the body’s World Heritage Committee is slated to vote on another controversial resolution this Wednesday.
The committee’s 21 member states will vote on Wednesday in Paris on the latest resolution, entitled, “Old City of Jerusalem and Its Walls,” the Times of Israel reported. The latest draft is likely to pass with a comfortable majority, the report said.
Once again, the text refers to the Temple Mount only by its Muslim name and makes no reference to the site as holy to religions outside of Islam.
However, the new text does not refer to Israel as “the occupying power,” as was the case with last week’s resolution. The quotation marks around “Western Wall” were also removed. According to Israel’s envoy to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, these seemingly insignificant amendments nevertheless carry weight. Israeli officials have said that the changes were pushed by Arab nations in favor of the resolution to encourage Western countries to follow suit or at least abstain.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the resolution a “theater of the absurd.”
Twenty-four countries voted in favor of the resolution while six, including the U.S., Germany and Britain, voted against and another 26 abstained.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett called the resolution a denial of history that “gives a boost to terrorism.”
Mexico and Brazil, which initially voted in favor of the resolution, later reneged on the decision and promised to abstain in future votes on the matter. Italy, which abstained, also changed its tune and vowed to oppose such texts in the future.
These resolutions are “incomprehensible, unacceptable and wrong,” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told an Italian radio station. Over the weekend, he told Netanyahu in a phone call that saying “the Jewish People has no connection to Jerusalem is like saying that the sun creates darkness.”
Renzi promised to try to convince other European governments to adopt his position, according to a read-out of the call issued by Netanyahu’s office.
In a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu said Renzi’s position was “a welcome process of changing direction in extreme votes against Israel in international forums.”
“The change in UN institutions will take some years and will also entail disappointments, but these are – without doubt – the first signs of a welcome change,” the statement continued.
Italy, Brazil and Mexico are not members of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, and will therefore not be able to take part in Wednesday’s vote.
According to HaCohen, one ambassador from a leading Arab nation disclosed that he did not comprehend what the Palestinians hoped to achieve by pushing such contentious resolutions.
“If the Palestinians continue to adhere to this dangerous path, which is actually a diplomatic jihad against the Jewish people, Judaism, and Christianity, they will discover that last week’s surprises from Mexico and Italy are only the beginning,” HaCohen said.