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.
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.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.