The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization voted Thursday for a resolution declaring that the Temple Mount and the Western Wall are not connected with the Jews.
The UNESCO approved the resolution at committee stage by a vote of 24 to 6 in favor of the resolution, with 26 abstaining. The votes came just a day after recognizing Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, which is considered as the Jews’ holiest day of the year, as a holiday.
The agency’s executive board is set to approve the resolution next week.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision “bizarre.”
“Today UNESCO adopted a bizarre decision that denies the Jewish people's connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall,” he wrote on a post to Facebook. “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, and Egypt has no connection to the pyramids … I believe that the historical truth is more powerful, and will prevail. And today we are dealing in truth.”
The countries who voted in favor of the resolution included Egypt, Iran, China, Russia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Sudan, Qatar and Lebanon, according to The Times of Israel.
The six countries who voted against the resolution were United States, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia and Lithuania. The countries who abstained included France, South Korea, Ukraine, Sweden, Greece, El Salvador, Italy, Japan, Spain and India.
Israel’s Education minister Nafatali Bennett said the UNESCO vote gave a “boost” to terror. On Friday, Bennett announced the country’s cooperation with UNESCO is suspended.
"Your decision denies history and encourages terror," Bennett addressed UNESCO in a letter, according to The Jerusalem Post. “Those who give prizes to the supporters of Jihad in Jerusalem the same week that two Jews are murdered in the city could god forbid encourage more victims."
Netanyahu, on another Facebook post, said he discussed with new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday the “outrage” of denying more than 3,000 years of the Jews’ connection with the Temple Mount, their holiest site. He said UNESCO’s decision distorts truth and incites more conflict.
“Decisions like this distort historical truth that Jews, Christians and most of humanity know to be fact. These decisions also do nothing to advance peace,” Netanyahu wrote. “They falsely teach Palestinian children that the Jews have no history and no rights here and therefore there’s no need to make peace with them.”
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews launched a petition to tell the U.N. “they have no right to steal Israel’s biblical heritage,” saying Thursday’s vote is an attempt by Arab nations to rewrite Israel’s history and “delegitimize” its holiest sites.