Israel is working to thwart a draft UNESCO resolution which declares that the Western Wall in Jerusalem — the most holy site in Judaism— belongs to the the Muslim al-Aksa Mosque compound.
The drat text to be voted on Wednesday in Paris states that UNESCO “affirms that the Buraq Plaza is an integral part of the Al-Aksa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.”
Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama HaCohen, said that the resolution was “a total Islamization” of a site that is revered by both the Jewish and Muslim faiths.
The six page draft resolution submitted by Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to the UNESCO Executive Board, broadly condemns Israeli actions in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
At no point does the resolution mention the Jewish historical connection to Jerusalem, which dates back to Biblical times. Nor does it reference the Temple Mount or the Western Wall, which was part of the Second Temple before it was destroyed 2,000 years ago.
It relies solely on Arabic names for the holy sites on and around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.
In the past, the United Nations Scientific, Cultural and Educational Organization has typically approved resolutions condemning Israeli actions in Jerusalem, but Israel is working to thwart none of those texts have so blatantly attempted to reclassify the Western Wall.
The Palestinians were expected to have an automatic majority of approval among the 58-member states of the UNESCO Executive Board for a broad based anti-Israel resolution on Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
But that support doesn’t extend to reclassifying the Western Wall as part of a religious Muslim site, HaCohen said.
The resolution may fail unless the line about the Buraq Plaza is removed, he said.
“To disconnect the Jewish people from the Western Wall is one step to much, even for nations that are the most anti-Israel,” HaCohen said.
The timing is also problematic, he said. The issue of the Temple Mount has already sparked Palestinian violence against Jewish citizens of Israel, he said.
Aside from the issue of the Western Wall, this resolution, which solely condemn Israeli actions on the Temple Mount will only further inflame passions on this issue and lead to more bloodshed, he said.
It gives a “stamp of authenticity” to Palestinian violence against Israel, HaCohen said.
If UNESCO states that Israel is harming Muslim worshippers “it only adds more fuel to the fire,” said HaCohen as he warned that “both sides will pay in blood for that decision.”