Israeli policemen stand guard as excavation work continues in front of the al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem

Israel suspends ties with the UN

Jerusalem: Israel has declared on Friday that it would suspend cooperation with UNESCO, the UN body for culture and history preservation, accusing that the International body ignored Judaism’s ties to its holiest site.

The draft decision says that Jerusalem has much importance to all three monotheistic religions; Christianity, Judaism and Islam but it does not explain why the holy city is significant to Christians or Jews. A subordinate body of UNESCO’s Executive Board passed the resolution during a meeting on Thursday in Paris.

The draft of the resolution refers to Jerusalem’s holiest site which is named as Temple Mount by Jews and Haram al-Sharif by Muslims or Noble Sanctuary due to its Muslim name.

The draft decision criticizes Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza of Jerusalem. The resolution was proposed by a group of Arab countries and drew brutal reprimand from Israel and the US.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced it as ridiculous by saying, “To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids. By this absurd decision, UNESCO has lost what little legitimacy it has left.”

Israel announced that it will suspend all professional ties with UNESCO, mentioned in a letter from Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

UNESCO approved a similar resolution in April that was criticized by Israel and other countries. This week’s resolution was proposed by Arab countries including Egypt, Algeria and Qatar and was approved by a 24-6 vote, with 26 abstentions.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs appreciated the decision of UNESCO.

According to a ministry statement, “Palestine will continue to defend the rights of our people through all available legal and diplomatic avenues, including UN organizations. Our peaceful agenda will not be derailed by propaganda, nor will our tolerance and adherence to international law by altered by fallacies and cynical spin.”

It is pertinent to mention here that the Temple Mount is significant for Jews and Christians because it is the site of the foundation stone on which Adam was created and the site where Abraham came to sacrifice his son Isaac. To Jews, it is also the site of the First and Second Temples. The significance of the site for Muslim is because it is where the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven on his miraculous “night journey.”

The resolution draft will present before the Executive Board of UNESCO for final decision on Tuesday. It will either be adopted without dissent, or will lead to further debate.

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