Culture&Arts

UNESCO Resolution Affirms Palestinians' Right to Al-Aqsa Mosque

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Soldiers removing equipment from a print shop which the IDF said produced posters and other material supporting terror attacks in al Ram in the West Bank

The UN cultural agency on Tuesday adopted an Arab-sponsored resolution that affirms Muslim ties to the Old City of east Jerusalem by referring to it only by its Islamic names as "Al-Aqsa Compound" or "Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif".

The resolution might not have any tangible impact on Jerusalem itself, but it had aggravated diplomatic tensions around the city and within UNESO.

Jews however revere it as the Temple Mount where the First and Second Temples once stood and the holiest site in Judaism.

The board reportedly formally approved the resolution on Tuesday morning in the final day of its meeting in Paris. Mexico voted in favor of the resolution last week, but triggered a special clause allowing them to demand a recast vote in order to change its decision.

On that occasion, UNESCO's executive board, followed by its 195-member general conference, voted to become the first United Nations agency to admit "Palestine".

"We will not negotiate and we won't take part in this ugly game". This noble organisation was established to preserve the history, not to rewrite it.

The longstanding dispute is also linked to Israel's refusal to grant visas to UNESCO experts to go in the country and assess the level of preservation of the holy sites in Jerusalem.

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Lawmakers in the Czech Parliament's lower house have condemned this week's resolution by UNESCO that Israel says denies the deep historic Jewish connection to holy sites in Jerusalem.

The Czech Republic's lower parliament voted 119-4 on Wednesday to condemn UNESCO Jerusalem resolution which it warned only strengthened anti-Semitism. Japan provided almost 9.6 percent of the operating budget and considering that the United States cut off its share after Palestine was permitted to join, 22 percent in 2011, the total shortage represents almost one-third of the budget.

UNESCO passed a similar resolution in April referring to the Temple Mount exclusively as Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall as the Al-Buraq Plaza drawing harsh condemnations from Israel.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump also slammed the UNESCO vote, as did the Hillary Clinton campaign.

When the "program and external relations commission" of UNESCO's executive board voted on the Jerusalem resolution last Thursday, just six of the 56 countries present opposed it - the United States, Britain, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania and the Netherlands. Earlier this year, President Francois Hollande said there had been an "unfortunate" amendment to the text on that occasion and that he would be "extremely vigilant" with this year's resolution.

Palestine's deputy ambassador to UNESCO, Mounir Anastas, welcomed the adoption of the resolution, saying he hoped it would pressure Israeli authorities to "stop all their violations", particularly the excavation of sites in and around the Old City. Thanks to lobbying efforts by Israeli diplomats, 10 countries that voted for a similar resolution in the spring abstained this time, including France, Spain, Sweden, Argentina and India.

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