New York (Agenzia Fides) – UNESCO's Executive Board adopted a decision that calls on Israel to allow the restoration of the historic status quo of Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif. The decision on Jerusalem was taken yesterday, Thursday, October 13 during UNESCO Executive Board's 200th session meetings, held in Paris. The decision, classified under the name “Occupied Palestine”, presented by the Palestinian delegation in coordination with the Jordanian delegation, asks to consider the terms "Al Aqsa" and "Al Haram Al Sharif" (which in Arabic means "Noble Sanctuary") as synonyms, and the "Mughrabi Gate" (Bab Al Magharbeh) as an integral and inseparable part of Al Aqsa. It also calls on Israel, as an occupation force, to allow the restoration of the historic status quo that prevailed until September 2000. Under the status quo, the Jordanian Awqaf Department exercised exclusive authority over Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif, including maintenance, restoration and regulating access.
The text prepared by UNESCO condems "the escalating Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against the Awqaf Department and its personnel, and against the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif". In addition, it deplores "the continuous storming of Al Aqsa Mosque by Israeli extremists and uniformed forces".
Jordan’s efforts are in line with the Hashemite custodianship of those sanctuaries - Muslims and Christians – in Jerusalem. The text was approved at the UNESCO Executive Board (where 58 Countries are represented) with 24 votes in favor, 6 against, 26 abstentions (the representatives of the two Countries were absent). The United States and Great Britain were among the votes that voted against, while the representatives of France and Spain abstained. The resolution will now have to be voted by the UNESCO General Council. But it has already sparked negative reactions from the Israelis, that presented the resolution as an attempt to deny the historic ties between the Jewish people and Temple Mount.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised UNESCO vote denying Jewish ties to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. "With this absurd resolution UNESCO has lost its legitimacy". "If they do not want to read the Bible - said Netanyahu among other things - at least look at what is depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome, and the Menorah that the Romans stole from the Temple in Jerusalem. Even Emperor Titus was carrying out propaganda?" . "Denying Jewish ties to the Temple Mount - he concluded - is like denying those of China to the Great Wall or those of the Egyptians to the Pyramids". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 14/10/2016)