Itongadol.- UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova bashed the draft text of a resolution which seeks to reclassify the Western Wall in Jerusalem —the most sacred public prayer site in Judaism — as a holy Muslim site.
“We all have responsibility to UNESCO’s mandate, to take decisions that promote dialogue, tolerance and peace,” said Bokova. “This is especially important for young people, who should be nurtured and educated for peace.”
She issued her statement on Tuesday, in advance of Wednesday’s highly publicized vote by UNESCO’s Executive Board in Paris on a draft resolution, which “affirms that the Buraq Plaza [the Western Wall] is an integral part of al-Aksa Mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif.”
A statement put out by her office said that Bokova “appeals to the UNESCO Executive Board to take decisions that do not further inflame tensions on the ground and that encourage respect for the sanctity of the Holy Sites.”
Her office added that the discussion “could be seen to alter the status of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, and that could further incite tensions.”
The “protection of culture heritage should not be taken hostage, as this undermines UNESCO’s mandate and efforts,” Bokova said.
She has consulted with nations on the 58 member board to encourage them to pursue constructive dialogue that promotes tolerance and mutual respect such as outlined in the mandate of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Jerusalem is a city that is holy for Jews, Christians and Muslim and it should be a place of dialogue for all three faiths, she said.
Bokova called on “all parties to ensure that cultural heritage, including religious, is preserved and accessible to all and to resume dialogue in the spirit of mutual understanding.”
The six-page draft resolution – submitted by Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Palestinian Authority broadly condemns Israeli actions in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.
At no point does the resolution mention the Jewish historical connection to Jerusalem, which dates back to biblical times. Nor does it reference the Temple Mount or the Western Wall, which was part of the retaining wall King Herod built for the Temple Mount more than 2,000 years ago. It also relies solely on Arabic names for the holy sites on and around the Temple Mount.
Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama Hacohen called the resolution “a total Islamization” of a site that is revered by both Jews and Muslims.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely added that the resolution is an attempt by the Palestinians to rewrite history, by going after one of the essential foundations of Judaism.