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UNESCO Director-General: "Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism"

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"This confirms the rights of our Muslim Palestinian people to their land and holy places, and it exposes the falsehood of the Israeli narration the Israeli occupation has been using to mislead the world public opinion and the global community for decades". It also referred to Israel as an "occupying power".

At a press conference on Friday, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner also criticized the resolution, which the United States had voted against.

Israel suspended cooperation with Unesco on Friday after the United Nations cultural organisation adopted two resolutions on the occupied Palestinian territories including annexed east Occupied al-Quds ahead of a final vote next week.

Several countries hostile to Israel such as Iran and Lebanon voted in favor of the resolution - as did Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General spoke out against the decision taken by the organisation's executive board for the adoption of the resolution.

"Israel is furious about this resolution by UNESCO because it essentially nullifies any Jewish connection to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound", said Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from the occupied East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised future state. The draft resolution refers to the Muslim site of Al-Buraq Plaza without quotations, but puts the site's Jewish name, the Western Wall Plaza, in quotations.

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Al-Aqsa Compound is the third holiest site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

While acknowledging that the "Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls" are important for "the three monotheistic religions" - Judaism, Islam and Christianity - the resolution stops short of mentioning the significance of the site, where two Jewish temples are believed to have once stood, as holy to Jews.

"The heritage of Jerusalem is indivisible, and each of its communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city", the UNESCO chief said in a statement.

"To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids", he wrote.

Jerusalem's Old City was designated a World Heritage site because of its "universal value. which is an appeal for dialogue, not confrontation", Bokova said.

In her initial letter, Livni warned the resolution could spark religious conflict and violations of the decades-long status quo at Jerusalem's flashpoint holy sites. It is located in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed following its invasion in 1967 - in a move never recognised by the global community - as part of its subsequent military occupation of the West Bank. Al-Khatib also noted that the Israeli authorities had restricted the entry of Muslim worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while allowing the entry of dozens of Jewish settlers. The Palestinians say it is rooted in some 50 years of military rule and fading hopes for independence.

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