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After Temple Mount resolution, PM offers UN staff a Jewish history lesson

Netanyahu announces session following passage of UNESCO text that omits mention of Jewish ties to holiest site in Judaism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stares silently at the crowd while addressing the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN in New York on October 1, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stares silently at the crowd while addressing the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN in New York on October 1, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday invited United Nations staff in Israel to a seminar on Jewish history, three weeks after the UN’s cultural body, UNESCO, declined in a resolution to acknowledge Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

The UNESCO resolution refers to Israel as the “occupying power” at every mention and uses the Arabic Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram al-Sharif without even once calling it the Temple Mount, as it is known to Jews. The text does refer to the Western Wall Plaza but places it in quotation marks, after using the Arabic Al-Buraq Plaza.

On Friday, Netanyahu reiterated that his “shock” that UNESCO would adopt “a decision denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site.”

“That is why today I am announcing a seminar on Jewish history for all UN personnel in Israel,” he said in a statement.

“I will personally host the lecture at the Prime Minister’s Office,” said Netanyahu, the son of renowned late historian Benzion Netanyahu, noting that it will be delivered by a “leading scholar of Jewish history.”

Diplomats will also be invited, “including of countries which voted for this outrageous decision,” Netanyahu said of the resolution on “Occupied Palestine” presented by several Arab states.

“I was shocked to hear that UNESCO adopted a decision denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site,” Netanyahu said in a statement when the resolution passed.

“It is hard to believe that anyone, let alone an organization tasked with preserving history, could deny this link, which spans thousands of years.”

The UNESCO resolution, authorized by the executive board’s Programme and External Relations Commission, was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan.

An aerial view of the Temple Mount, with the southern wall and archaeological park in the foreground. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
An aerial view of the Temple Mount, with the southern wall and archaeological park in the foreground. (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

The resolution was approved by 33 states, including France, Russia, Spain and Sweden. Seventeen countries abstained while six voted against including the United States, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Ghana and Turkmenistan were altogether absent from the vote at the 58-member board.

Netanyahu said back when the UNESCO decision was announced that he would host a special lecture on Jewish history for all UN personnel in Israel.

It was not immediately clear when the seminar would be held, but Reuters quoted sources close to the prime minister as saying it could be next week.

It was also unclear how many UN staff and diplomats planned to attend. UNESCO had no immediate comment.

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