NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC praised the United States, Britain, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, and the Netherlands for voting "no" on a UNESCO resolution singling out Israel for condemnation regarding Jerusalem.
The UNESCO Executive Board, meeting in Paris, adopted the resolution by a vote of 26 to 6, with 25 abstentions.
"Let's be frank. The UNESCO Executive Board has given a boost to the relentless Palestinian campaign to delegitimize the state of Israel by rewriting history," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "While 31 countries did not support the deeply troubling resolution, 25 did. That was enough to adopt a measure which blithely ignores the documented reality that Israel, since 1967, has not changed the Temple Mount status quo, allows millions of Muslims to visit there, and, more broadly, continues to seek a peaceful, negotiated resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, while the Palestinian leadership is missing in action."
The UNESCO resolution, initiated by the Palestinian Authority and sponsored by six Arab countries, condemned Israel for "attempts to break the status quo" on the Temple Mount and for "aggression" regarding Muslim access to the Al Aqsa Mosque.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova had delayed the vote by one day after laudably raising objections to a clause in an earlier draft that would have "affirmed" the Western Wall, a sacred site for the Jewish people, as an "integral part" of the Al Aqsa Mosque. She warned this could be seen as altering the status of the Old City and "further incite tensions."
The language on the Western Wall was removed from the final resolution. At the same time, the UNESCO Executive Board reaffirmed its 2010 decision recognizing Rachel's Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Muslim sites, ignoring their obvious Jewish links, which preceded by thousands of years the advent of Islam in the seventh century.
"Determined efforts by Director-General Bokova and American diplomats helped to remove some of the most malicious language, for which we are very grateful, but, frankly, the entire measure should have been rejected by the UNESCO Executive Board," said Harris. "Politicization of UNESCO is not only an assault on Israel and the truth, but also undermines the broader mission of a key UN specialized agency."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee