French PM: UNESCO vote on Jerusalem was ‘unfortunate, clumsy’
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French PM: UNESCO vote on Jerusalem was ‘unfortunate, clumsy’

Manuel Valls says resolution that ignores Jewish connection to Temple Mount, Western Wall should have been avoided

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls at the National Assembly in Paris on May 10, 2016. AFP/ERIC FEFERBERG)
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls at the National Assembly in Paris on May 10, 2016. AFP/ERIC FEFERBERG)

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Wednesday said a UNESCO resolution on the Temple Mount that ignores any Jewish connection to Jerusalem was “clumsy” and “unfortunate” and should have been avoided. France was among the 33 countries that backed the resolution in the 58-member body.

The Paris-based UN cultural body adopted the resolution on April 16, sparking outrage in Israel and among Jewish organizations which decried its total disregard of a historic Jewish connection to the holiest site in Judaism. The resolution refers to the Temple Mount area solely by the Muslim terms Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Haram Al Sharif, except for two references to the Western Wall Plaza that were put in parentheses.

“This UNESCO resolution contains unfortunate, clumsy wording that offends and unquestionably should have been avoided, as should the vote,” Valls told the French parliament.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also criticized Paris’s vote in favor of the resolution, telling an event organized by CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, that he does “not take a supportive view of the text.”

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men look out over the southern end of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on December 17, 2015. (Esther Rubyan/FLASH90)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men look out over the southern end of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on December 17, 2015. (Esther Rubyan/FLASH90)

The resolution “should not have been adopted,” Cazeneuve said at the event in Paris, adding that the resolution passed “was not written as it should have been,” the Le Figaro daily reported.

The broad-ranging resolution condemns Israeli actions in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but focuses in large part on Israeli actions with regard to the Temple Mount and Western Wall Plaza.

In an unusual commentary on his country’s foreign policy statement, French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia on April 21 expressed his “strong disapproval” of the French vote.

Reaffirming “the indestructible ties that unite the Jewish people and Jerusalem,” Korsia wrote that he “urges the UNESCO executive council to reconsider their position as soon as possible.”

Cazeneuve said Monday that his position on the matter “is the same as Haim Korsia’s.”

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