Israel enraged after UNESCO text disputes Judaism link to holy sites

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried UNESCO's decision on Thursday to adopt a resolution that disputes the link between Judaism and several hot-spot holy sites in Jerusalem.

"To say that Israel has no link to the Temple Mount is like saying that China has no link to the Great Wall or that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids," Netanyahu said.

The Jewish people's ties to the holy sites became a point of contention on Thursday when UNESCO's executive board adopted a resolution disputing the link and criticizing Israel's custodianship.

Of the 58-member group, 24 countries were for the resolution, while only six - the US, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia - were against it. The rest abstained or were absent.

The resolution was deemed anti-Israeli by local media due to its language overwhelmingly ignoring the Jewish names for holy sites in Jerusalem's Old City, referring to them primarily by their Muslim names, and failing to mention that the site known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount is sacred in Judaism.

Several Israeli lawmakers slammed the resolution.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog wrote on Facebook: "Whoever wants to rewrite history, to distort fact, and to completely invent the fantasy that the Western Wall and Temple Mount have no connection to the Jewish people, is telling a terrible lie."

Ahead of the vote, the Israeli Foreign Ministry had tried to sway opinion by distributing a brochure filled with examples of archaeological finds that illustrated how "Jewish attachment to Jerusalem has been constant from ancient times through modernity."

The UNESCO decision precedes a special informal meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday to discuss Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The executive director of B'Tselem, which documents alleged human rights violations against the Palestinians, is set to address members on the topic, according to the group's press release.

Last update: Thu, 13/10/2016 - 23:08
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