A second resolution by the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) denying any and all connections between the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish religion or people passed on Wednesday morning, though not by a large majority.
With ten votes in favor, two against, and eight abstentions, the 21-member World Heritage Committee did not produce a consensus vote, which would have had the appearance of a unanimous decision, as the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Jordan had hoped, but a secret ballot, allowing each member state to vote individually.
The PA partnered with Jordan to send threatening letters to each member-state on Tuesday, essentially saying that if the resolution did not pass, the Arab contingency would submit even harsher anti-Israel texts.
The draft passed – a result not unexpected by Israel in light of last week’s resolution on the same contentious topic.
In fact, the adoption of the resolution was all but guaranteed, despite international outrage and disbelief over the patently ridiculous first resolution, which, like the second, referred to the Temple Mount only as “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif” and defined it as a “Muslim holy site of worship.”
This is despite the fact that the Temple Mount once housed the Jewish Temples and is considered the holiest place in Judaism, not to mention that the documented and proven historical presence of Jews and Christians in the city well predated the establishment of Islam as a religion.
“You have just adopted a [resolution] against historical truth and one that stands in complete and utter contradiction to all values,” Carmel Sharma-Hacohen, Israel’s UNESCO ambassador, told the assembly after the vote.
In one interesting difference between the two resolutions, the newest text does not contain a single reference to Jerusalem’s Jewish or Christian heritage, while the first resolution paid lip service to the multicultural nature of Jerusalem by mentioning the significance of the city to “the three monotheistic religions”.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu preemptively dismissed the results of the vote on Tuesday night, saying that the taking of a second vote proved UNESCO remains a “theater of the absurd.”
He noted the irony of the resolution, pointing out that while “extremist Muslim forces are destroying mosques and churches” in other parts of the Middle East, “Israel is the only country in the region that protects them and allows freedom of worship.”
Sharma-Hacohen compared the vote to a 1975 United Nations General Assembly resolution which equated Zionism with racism (and was overturned 16 years later), declaring that the resolution belonged in the garbage bin of history.