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UNESCO Chief Acknowledges Jerusalem as ‘Capital of David,’ Says Protecting Its Heritage Could Lead to Peace

The chief of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization declared that Jerusalem is the “capital of David” and recognized the importance of protecting its heritage.
A general view of Jerusalem's old city shows the Dome of the Rock in the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, October 25, 2015.
Reuters/Amir Cohen

The chief of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization declared that Jerusalem is the "capital of David" and recognized the importance of protecting its heritage.

"In the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant," UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said at the policy conference of the European Coalition for Israel held last week, according to Israel Today.

"The protection of the heritage of Jerusalem is part of a broader vision for peace and the fight against all forms of denial of Jewish history, delegitimization of Israel and anti-Semitism," she added.

In a similar statement last year, Bokova said disregarding Jewish, Christian and Muslim connections to the Old City goes against the very reason why Jerusalem is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

"To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justifies its inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage List," she said. "We have a collective responsibility to strengthen this cultural and religious coexistence, by the power of acts and also by the power of words. This requirement is stronger than ever, to bridge the divisions that harm the multi-faith character of the Old City.

Bokova's recent statement came as a shock to many, as it was contradictory to the controversial resolution passed last year by the World Heritage Committee denying Israel's ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

The resolution, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was "bizarre." He added that refusing to acknowledge the Jews' connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall could be likened to saying that "China has no connection to the Great Wall of China, and Egypt has no connection to the pyramids."

Netanyahu said the resolution not only destroys historical truth but "harms" the U.N. itself.

Despite the passing of the resolution, the prime minister expressed confidence that the truth regarding Israel's history will be upheld.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres took the same stance as he met with World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder in New York in March. He also expressed his commitment to reduce anti-Israel bias at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Guterres was also recorded as saying on Israeli radio that the Temple was that of the Jews.

"It is completely clear the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple," he said, according to Jewish News Service.

Tags : UNESCO, Jerusalem, Israel, City of David, Benjamin Netanyahu, UNESCO director general Irina Bokova, UNESCO resolution Jerusalem, UNESCO resolution Temple Mount, Temple Mount, Old City, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres