The language of a UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem describing “so-called” Jewish sites and putting the Western Wall Plaza in quotation marks has sparked outrage in Israel.
The resolution, adopted by the United Nations cultural agency’s 58-nation executive board last week, condemns the Israeli government’s stewardship of Jerusalem and decries the renovation of “so-called Jewish ritual baths” and the alleged creation of “Jewish fake graves”.
Sites are either referred to by their Arabic or English names, or, in the case of the Western Wall Plaza, the holiest site where Jews can pray, are put in quotation marks.
The Western Wall is in East Jerusalem’s historic Old City, which was occupied by Israel along with the rest of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Middle East war, though Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed the Jerusalem Law, which in 1980 declared the city “complete and united”.
However, the vast majority of the international community – including the United States, the European Union and the UN – do not recognise Israel’s claims to sovereignty over East Jerusalem.
The Israeli government described the resolution, which was voted for by 33 countries, as “hideous” and penned letters to all countries that signed the resolution, which included France, Russia and China.
“The UNESCO resolution has no practical validity. Nevertheless, we will not permit international entities to blur the Jewish people’s connection to its eternal capital,” Dore Gold, director general of the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
The United Kingdom and the US abstained from the vote.