Israel said Monday that it is working to thwart a Palestinian bid to have the Western Wall in Jerusalem declared a Muslim holy site by the UN’s cultural body in a vote on Tuesday.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry called the proposal “an attempt to distort history and blur the connection between the Jewish people and its holiest place and to create a false reality.”
The Western Wall is one of the few remnants of the ancient retaining wall that held up an artificial plateau on which a refurbished Second Temple stood in the reign of King Herod the Great. The Temple and much of the wall were later destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E.
For Jews, who are forbidden from praying on the Temple Mount by Israeli regulations, the Western Wall is the prayer site closest to the ancient site of the Holy of Holies inside the destroyed Temple. It is considered the holiest site where Jews are allowed to pray.
According to Muslim tradition, the Temple Mount is where Mohammad tied the winged animal Buraq, which he rode on the night he ascended to heaven. Atop it lies the Dome of the Rock — a Muslim shrine — and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The proposal to recognize the adjoining Western Wall as a Muslim holy site was submitted by six Muslim countries on behalf of the Palestinians, according to a Ynet news report.
The proposal also calls for the international community to condemn Israel for urging “its citizens to bear arms in light of [the] recent terror wave,” as well as for recent actions by Israel and the Israel Defense Forces in Jerusalem. The document, a copy of which was obtained by Ynet, refers to Jerusalem as “the occupied capital of Palestine.”
In addition, the Palestinians seek condemnation of ongoing Israeli archaeological excavations near the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem’s Old City, as well as of the “aggression and illegal measures taken against the freedom of worship and access of Muslims to Al-Aqsa Mosque and Israel’s attempts to break the status quo since 1967.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely denounced the bid on Monday.
“This shameful and deceitful Palestinian attempt to rewrite history will fail the test of reality,” Hotovely said.
The Likud lawmaker said her ministry is making every effort to see that the bid is voted down by UNESCO on Tuesday.
The proposal is largely expected to pass, as most of UNESCO’s 58 members traditionally support the Palestinian cause.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.