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Motion passes 129-11, with UAE, Bahrain and Morocco in favor

19 countries drop support for UN resolution omitting Jewish tie to Temple Mount

Resolution only referring to holy site by Muslim name still passes overwhelmingly, but tally not as lopsided as 2018 result, which Israeli envoy says is cause for optimism

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Illustrative: An Israeli police officer stands guard as a religious Jew in army uniform visits the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 3, 2021. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)
Illustrative: An Israeli police officer stands guard as a religious Jew in army uniform visits the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 3, 2021. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

NEW YORK — Nineteen countries dropped their support for a resolution at the United Nations on Wednesday that ignores Jewish ties to the Temple Mount holy site.

The resolution pertaining to Jerusalem was one of three that make up what has become known as the “Palestinian Package” — varied versions of which are passed by the UN General Assembly every year.

The other two resolutions condemn the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights and call for intensified efforts by the Israelis and Palestinians to end the conflict between them through a two-state solution, respectively.

All three resolutions passed by overwhelming margins, as they did when they were brought before the General Assembly last in 2018. However, the resolution on Jerusalem, which includes a call for “upholding unchanged the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif” holy site, saw a notable drop in its support.

On Wednesday, 129 countries voted in favor of the resolution (with 11 against and 31 abstentions), compared to 148 in 2018. The Czech Republic and Hungary, which voted in favor of the resolution three years ago switched sides entirely in order to oppose it. Meanwhile, 20 countries that voted in favor in 2018, chose to abstain this year, including, Austria, Brazil, Germany, India, Kenya, the Netherlands, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Several of the countries attributed their changed vote to the resolution’s failure to use a more neutral identification of the Jerusalem holy site, which is known as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims and the Temple Mount to Jews, though the same language had been used in the past.

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan speaks at the UN in New York in January 2021. (Shahar Azran/ Israeli Mission to the UN)

The Temple Mount compound is considered the holiest place in Judaism, as it is believed to be the site where the first and second Jewish Temples once stood. It also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.

“It is morally, historically and politically wrong for the Assembly to support language that denies both the Jewish and Muslim connections to the Temple Mount and Haram al‑Sharif,” the US representative said during the debate, according to a UN press release.

The British representative told the General Assembly that the unbalanced reference was what led his delegation to abstain after voting in favor three years ago. He clarified that the shift did not mean the UK had changed its policy toward Jerusalem.

The improved results appeared to represent not just a warming of ties between Israel and the increasingly nationalist countries of Eastern Europe such as Hungary and Austria, but also more liberal countries such as Germany and the UK.

In a statement to The Times of Israel regarding the results of the Jerusalem resolution, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan lamented that “the automatic majority in the UN that votes in favor of pro-Palestinian decisions is shameful and makes the UN irrelevant and without real influence.”

“But the fact that 19 other countries made the right choice and realized that a distorted and false resolution could not be supported is a positive development that we must encourage,” he continued. “There is still a long way to go, but the change in last night’s vote was important and there is no doubt that it will also affect more votes in the future.”

However, no Arab country voted to oppose or abstain on the resolution, including Israel’s newest allies, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, which agreed to normalize ties with the Jewish state last year.

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