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Israel Slams UNESCO for Discounting Jewish, Christian Connections to Biblical City Jerusalem

( [email protected] ) Jul 09, 2015 05:56 PM EDT
The city of Jerusalem is claimed as a holy city for three major world religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. However, the nation of Israel has slammed a United Nations cultural agency for ignoring Jewish and Christian ties to the biblical city.
Israeli flags fly in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, Feb 25, 2014. Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Harretz

The city of Jerusalem is claimed as a holy city for three major world religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. However, the nation of Israel has slammed a United Nations cultural agency for ignoring Jewish and Christian ties to the biblical city.

According to a report from the Associated Press, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known as UNESCO, received a draft resolution from several Arab states that condemned Israel for conducting archeological digs in Jerusalem's Old City. The states also accused Israel of ruining the city's "visual integrity" for building a light rail line nearby.

"[The text] deliberately ignores the historical connection between the Jewish people and their ancient capital," Israeli Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold said, adding that the resolution also ignored Christianity's ties to Jerusalem.

The Associated Press reported that Israel captured the area from Jordan in the 1967 war. While the Jewish state claims that it has protected holy sites from all religions, its control is not internationally recognized.

According to a report from Times of Israel, the Arab states Algeria, Lebanon and Qatar submitted a resolution to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee this week. They condemned Israel in the resolution for "the persistence of the illegal excavations and works conducted by the Israeli occupation authorities and the extreme settler groups in the Old City of Jerusalem and on both sides of its walls."

Gold slammed the resolution as "completely one-sided" and "full of distortions and is totally disconnected from reality on the ground."

"The Jewish people restored their majority in Jerusalem in the mid-19th century," Gold said. "Their ancient synagogues were destroyed and desecrated by a coalition of invading armies in 1948, who ethnically cleansed the Old City of any Jewish presence."

According to Times of Israel, Gold accused UNESCO of hypocrisy.

"As the historical heritage sites of this area are being systematically destroyed by jihadist forces, such as the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, UNESCO's adoption of utterly false allegations about Israeli archaeological practices is misplaced and hypocritical, at best," Gold said.

The Times of Israel looked at how the report described certain areas of Jerusalem's Old City, which has been on UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger since 1982, after Jordan requested calling the site as "endangered."

"It refers to the Temple Mount only as a 'Muslim holy site,' and to the Western Wall plaza, the holiest site in Judaism accessible to Jewish worshipers, who are not allowed to prayer on the mount itself, only by its Muslim moniker, the 'Buraq plaza,'" Times of Israel wrote.

A UNESCO official told Times of Israel that a resolution is scheduled to be adopted Wednesday at the World Heritage Committee's 39th session in Bonn, Germany.


Tags : Israel, Israeli government, Israeli Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold, UNESCO World Heritage site, UNESCO, United Nations, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, Jerusalem, Old City, Jerusalem Old City, Israel control of Jerusalem, status of Jerusalem, Jewish state, Algeria, Lebanon, Qatar, Temple Mount, Western Wall, Christian ties to Jerusalem, Jewish ties to Jerusalem