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Drama Around the UNESCO Anti-Israel Resolutions

According to Israel's ambassador to the United Nations organization Carmel Shama Cohen, the chief of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova received “death threats” after criticizing Arab-backed resolutions which seek to erase the Jewish connection to holy sites in Jerusalem and her security had to be reinforced.

While the resolutions acknowledge that Jerusalem is holy to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, it says the Temple Mount holy site is sacred only to Muslims. Bokova distanced herself from the resolutions in a statement, saying “nowhere more than in Jerusalem do Jewish, Christian and Muslim heritage and traditions share space.”

The UNESCO resolutions refer to “Occupied Palestine” and the need to “safeguard the Palestinian cultural heritage and the distinctive character of east Jerusalem”. They refer to the Temple Mount exclusively as an Islamic shrine. The UNESCO resolution also ignores the Jewish connection to the Western Wall.

Al Aqsa was built in the 7th century C.E. after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, while the first Jewish Temple was built during the days of King Solomon about 1500 years earlier and stood for 410 years before it was destroyed by the Babylonians, and the Second Jewish Temple stood 420 years until 70 C.E. when it was destroyed by the Romans.

Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO on Friday, due to its ignoring thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

Mexico announced it wanted to change its vote pro the resolution for an abstention, by triggering a rarely used clause to force a new general committee debate and re-vote just one day before UNESCO's executive board was set to validate all resolutions in a blanket vote.
The Secretariat of Foreign Affairs said that Mexico's new position “reflects the deep appreciation [the governmet] has for the Jewish community and in particular for their significant contributions to the welfare and economic, social, and cultural development of Mexico.”

Mexico's abstention will not change the resolution which passed with a large majority, but is calculated to assuage the anger of its Jewish community to whom President Ennrique Pena Nieto had apparently promised that Mexico would not support the resolution.

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