The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is about to accuse Israel of “endangering” the Old City of Jerusalem.Arab countries such as Algeria, Lebanon and Qatar have submitted a resolution to UNESCO condemning “the persistence of the illegal excavations and works conducted by the Israeli occupation authorities and the extreme settler groups in the Old City of Jerusalem.”
Additionally, Israel is accused in the proposed Resolution of “damaging artifacts and Islamic holy sites on the Temple Mount, Islam’s Haram al-Sharif, and castigates the Jewish state for building a light rail line that passes near the Old City walls that damages their visual integrity and the authentic character of the site.”
The resolution compiled by the Arab countries speaks only of the Temple Mount as a “Muslim holy place” and requests to keep the Old City on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger, where it has been since the agency acquiesced to a 1982 Jordanian request to categorize the Israeli-controlled site as “endangered.”
Israel’s government denounced the resolution as “very one-sided”, “distorted and far from reality,” said Dore Gold, Director General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry. UNESCO “deliberately ignores the historical connection between the Jewish people and its capital as well as the close ties of Christianity to this city.”
Gold accused the UN agency of hypocrisy. “As historical heritage sites of the region are being systematically destroyed by jihadist forces, such as the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, UNESCO’s adoption of utterly false allegations regarding Israeli archaeological practices is misplaced and hypocritical, at best,” he said.
Israelis are upset over the move saying, “Jerusalem is considered holy for three different religions, it attracts millions of tourist with over 200 monuments, including the majestic Dome of the Rock. Israel provides security of the area but this is ignored by UNESCO while heritage sites and statues that are thousands of years old are being destroyed by IS fighters. These sites are not even considered for inclusion on UNESCO’s ‘Red List’!”