Czechs condemn UNESCO controversial Jerusalem resolution

The UNESCO resolution on "occupied Palestine" was endorsed Tuesday by the agency's executive board at its headquarters in Paris, after being approved at the committee stage last week.

The resolution does not in any part discuss the issue of whether the Wailing Wall is a holy site for Jews or not, but uses Arabic terminology for locations that are called differently by Muslims and Jews.

"It was adopted", a UNESCO spokesman said of the Arab-sponsored resolution which led Israel last week to suspend its cooperation with the Paris-based agency, which oversees World Heritage sites.

In the draft resolutions, Israel was condemned for "violations" at Jewish holy sites and the holiest sites in Judaism are referred to exclusively by their Islamic names, describing them as holy only to Muslims.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids".

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However Hamas, the Islamic Militant group that rules Gaza and is sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state, interpreted it as denying any Jewish connection to the sites.

It is the latest episode in a series of rows at UNESCO, which is responsible for protecting important heritage sites and is one of few global organisations that recognises Palestine as a member state. In the Bible, Jerusalem is the city of the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But top UNESCO officials were critical of the resolution.

The retired neurosurgeon accused UNESCO of "blatantly denying history", and accused the United Nations of a history of false accusations against Israel.

Unesco chief Irina Bokova also criticised the draft resolution, saying "different peoples worship the same places, sometimes under different names".

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Although 24 nations voted in favor and only six voted against (with 26 abstained), not a single European country supported the resolution.

"An entire section of the proposal dedicated specifically to the Temple Mount complex refers only to the site's Muslim names (Al-Aqsa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif) and fails to mention its Hebrew or English names (Har HaBayit or Temple Mount)", i24News reports. Jason Frohnmayer, press and public diplomacy officer at the US State Department's Public Affairs, Planning and Coordination Office, told Al-Monitor that the United States remains "an active member" of UNESCO and works to advance US interests relative to UNESCO's mandate.

The executive board ratified a draft form of the resolution that had already been passed by a special committee last week.

"The Palestinian government expects Ms Bokova to focus her efforts on implementing the will of member states and preserving Jerusalem from the Israeli systematic colonisation and assault on its Palestinian character", said Maliki.

Israeli leadership reacted furiously to the resolution, with some accusing the UN's cultural arm of anti-Semitism.

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