Israel has suspended cooperation with UNESCO a day after the United Nations cultural body passed a resolution that sharply criticised Israeli policies around the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while supposedly rejecting Jewish ties to the holy site in occupied East Jerusalem.
The resolution condemned Israel for restricting Muslims access to the site, and for aggression by police and soldiers. It also referred to Israel as an "occupying power".
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"Israel is furious about this resolution by UNESCO," said Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from the Occupied East Jerusalem. "Because it essentially nullifies any Jewish connection to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound."
"The resolution does assert Jerusalem is holy to the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity but there is a special section in the resolution that says al-Aqsa Mosque compound is sacred only to Muslims."
"It does not mention that it is sacred to Jews as well," said our correspondent. "This is what infuriated the Israeli government."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Thursday that UNESCO has lost its legitimacy by adopting this resolution.
"The theatre of the absurd at UNESCO continues and today the organisation adopted another delusional decision which says that the people of Israel have no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall," Netanyahu said.
"To declare 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," Netanyahu said.
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Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: "This is an important message to Israel that it must end its occupation and recognise the Palestinian state and Jerusalem as its capital with its sacred Muslim and Christian sites."
The resolution, which was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, was voted through on Thursday with 24 votes in favour, six against, and 26 abstentions.
Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States voted against the resolution, while China, Russia, Mexico, South Africa and Pakistan among others voted in favour.
After the vote, the US also voiced displeasure saying it "strongly opposed" these resolutions.
"We are deeply concerned about these kinds of recurring politicised resolutions that do nothing to advance constructive results on the ground and we don't believe they should be adopted," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.
The status of Jerusalem is the thorniest issue of the decades-long Palestinian conflict.
The al-Aqsa compound is the third-holiest site in Islam. It is located in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967 - in a move never recognised by the international community - as part of its occupation of the West Bank.
Jewish settlers and hardline right-wing Zionist organisations have called for control over the mosque compound.
Jewish groups refer to the site as the Temple Mount and their increased incursions into the mosque compound have triggered Palestinian protests across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
Source: Al Jazeera News And News Agencies