Hamas praises UNESCO for panning Israel’s Jerusalem activity

Palestinian terror group calls for follow-up action to resolution, urges efforts to battle ‘Judaization’ of the Old City

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

View of Jerusalem showing the Old City in the foreground against new parts of the city in the background, January 9, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
View of Jerusalem showing the Old City in the foreground against new parts of the city in the background, January 9, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Hamas terror group on Wednesday praised a resolution by the United Nations’ cultural body condemning Israeli activity in East Jerusalem and the Old City, and urged the UN to prevent the “Judaization” of those areas.

Tuesday’s Jordan-sponsored resolution in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Council called Israel “the occupying power” in the Old City of Jerusalem and reaffirmed previous UN resolutions denying the country’s claims to East Jerusalem.

Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem has never been recognized by the international community.

A Hamas spokesman, Abdel Latif al-Qanua, said in a statement that the UNESCO resolution demolishes the false Israeli narrative and asserts the Palestinian right in Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa Mosque, the organization’s website reported.

Qanua urged that the resolutions be followed up with action on the ground to “save Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque from Judaization, excavations and Zionist projects.”

The Hamas spokesperson also thanked all of the countries that supported the vote. Ten countries voted in favor of the text, which was significantly softer than previous resolutions. Only three member states — Jamaica, the Philippines and Burkina Faso — opposed the resolution, and eight abstained.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement also welcomed the vote on Tuesday. Fatah spokesman in Europe Jamal Nazzal said it was “historic justice” and was “another reflection of the international position which opposes Israeli policy, and of our position which rejects recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the occupation.”

The resolution slammed “the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law.”

However, Decision 41 COM 7A.36 also stressed “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions,” language not found in last year’s text and seen as a significant softening of the language.

It also did not refer to the Temple Mount compound solely by its Muslim names, “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” as the 2016 resolution did, defining it as “a Muslim holy site of worship.”

Despite the text lacking the bite of previous resolutions passed by the body, it was met with angry denunciations by Israeli officials.

The Foreign Ministry responded by saying the decision cannot change the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people.

“Another bizarre and irrelevant decision by UNESCO, that is acting on behalf of the enemies of history and the truth,” the ministry said in statement. “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people, and no decision by UNESCO can change that reality. It is sad, unnecessary and pathetic. It is worth noting that the decision didn’t even get a majority of votes.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed