(JTA) – The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, adopted a resolution that ignores Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. The resolution passed Wednesday, Oct. 26 with less than a majority of the committee’s 21 members with 10 states voting in favor, two opposed, eight abstentions and one absent.
The 21 voting countries were: Finland, Poland, Portugal, Croatia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Cuba, Jamaica, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Angola and Tanzania.
The resolution, submitted by Lebanon and Tunisia on behalf of Jordan and the Palestinians, who do not serve on the committee, is similar to one passed earlier this month by the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Wednesday’s resolution refers to the Temple Mount only by its Muslim names of Haram al-Sharif and Al-Aksa Mosque, but does refer to the Western Wall in a Jewish context, unlike the previous resolution, which also denied a Jewish connection to the Western Wall and other Jewish holy sites.
The wording of the resolution reportedly had been further softened in recent days in order to allow it to be adopted by consensus instead of placed to a vote. Jordan and the Palestinian Authority reportedly had threatened to make the language more contentious and to strengthen the Muslim claim to the Temple Mount in the resolution, if it was not approved by a consensus vote.
Tanzania and Croatia had asked for a secret ballot, the Jerusalem Post reported. Jamaica was not present for the vote.
“This is yet another absurd resolution against the State of Israel, the Jewish people and historical truth,” Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen said after the vote.
“The absurdity continues, and UNESCO has adopted yet another ridiculous decision that is completely disconnected from reality,” he said in a statement. “UNESCO embarrassed itself by marching to the tune of the Palestinian pipers. All attempts to deny our heritage, distort history and disconnect the Jewish people from our capital and our homeland, are doomed to fail.”
The evening before the vote, Shama-Hacohen along with Shahar Azani, executive director of the New York-based StandWithUs organization, and Yifa Segal, director of the International Legal Forum, submitted a petition to Irina Bokova, UNESCO director general in Paris with more than 76,000 signatures calling upon UNESCO to recognize the deep historic, cultural and religious connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
In addition, a group of U.S. senators and congressmen earlier in the week sent a letter initiated by led by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) to the committee urging it to reject the resolution.
CAP: The Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem. Credit: Zack Wajsgras/Flash90.