Israel Cuts Ties with UNESCO Due to Disagreement over Holy Site

Israel announced the suspension of ties with the United Nations group UNESCO, which is in charge of the preserving of history and culture, after a draft decision said that Israel ignores ties to Judaism in the holiest site of the religion.

The draft decision shows the importance that Jerusalem has to all of the three monotheistic religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism, but does not mention why the city is significant to Jews or Christians. In Paris on Thursday, the resolution was passed by a UNESCO Executive Board’s subsidiary body.

The decision refers to the holiest site of Jerusalem, known to the Jews as Temple Mount and to the Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

The UN draft decision, which heavily criticizes the actions of Israel in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, was proposed by Arab countries and it received new harsh rebukes from both the U.S. and Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu the Prime Minister of Israel called the UNESCO move absurd. He said saying that Israel does not have any connection to the Temple Mount nor the Western Wall is equal to saying China does not have any connection to the Great Wall or Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids.

Because of the absurd decision taken, UNESCO lost the little legitimacy that still remained, added Netanyahu.

Naftali Bennett the Education Minister in Israel sent a letter after the vote that said Israel had frozen all its professional activities with UNESCO.

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department criticized the UNESCO decision as well saying the country was deeply concerned with these types of recurring resolutions that are politicized that do not do anything to advance constructive results and it is our belief that it should not be adopted.

In 2011, the U.S. stopped its funding of UNESCO over the acceptance by the organization of a bid by Palestinians for full membership.

Washington prior to that was contributing over $80 million annually to the group.

In April, UNESCO passed a decision that was similar that Israel along with other companies also was very critical of.

The resolution this week, put forward by different Arab countries such as Algeria, Egypt and Qatar has been adopted by a vote of 24-6 with abstentions reaching 26.

To Jews and to Christians, Temple Mount is where the foundation stone with which Adam was created is located and where Abraham sacrificed Isaac his son.

For Muslims it is where Mohammed ascended to the heavens on his night journey.

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