The chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Avi Dichter (Likud), said Sunday that he would speak with his Russian counterparts about their support for the “scandalous and unconscionable” resolutions recently passed by UNESCO that ignored the Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
Dichter, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency, landed in Moscow earlier in the day at the head of a special delegation from the FADC to mark 25 years to the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Russia.
In addition to speaking with members of the Russian foreign affairs committee about Iran and its “destabilizing influence” in the Middle East, Dichter said in a statement, he would broach with them the subject of the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.
Since Russia is a “friend and partner of the State of Israel,” Dichter said, it was important to him set the record straight that “the UNESCO decision, which the Russians also supported, is in our eyes scandalous and unconscionable.”
In October, UNESCO passed two resolutions relating to the Temple Mount, both of which ignored the religious and historical connection of Jews to the site. In the second resolution the Temple Mount was referred to only by its Muslim names of “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” and was defined only as “a Muslim holy site of worship.”
The resolutions were met with widespread fury in Israel. Following the vote on the second resolution, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled the Israeli ambassador to UNESCO for consultations. Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) said that Israel would suspend all ties with organization for “giving a boost to terrorism” and denying history.
Dichter brought with him a pamphlet published in 1925 by the Islamic Waqf, which controls and manages the Al-Aqsa compound, stating that “the identification of the site as Solomon’s Temple cannot be debated.”
He also decried what he claimed were efforts to turn the Temple Mount into an exclusively Islamic site, saying that “the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the holiness of which the State of Israel recognizes, is located on the Temple Mount but definitely does not comprise all of the site.” He added that access to the Temple Mount should not be restricted for non-Muslims.