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Occupied Palestine Resolution

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UN UNESCO
Resolution 200 EX/25
Jerusalem-2013(2)-Aerial-Temple Mount-(south exposure).jpg
The Temple Mount complex
Date13 October 2016
Meeting no.200
CodeEX/PX/DR (Document)
Voting summary
23 voted for
7 voted against
28 abstained
2 absent
ResultIsrael condemned over accusations of multiple transgressions against the Palestinian people
 For   Against   Abstained   Absent 
Mexico initially supported the resolution but since recanted.

The Occupied Palestine Resolution is the common name for Document 200 EX/25, passed on October 13, 2016, and formally ratified on October 26, 2016, as a decision of the Executive Board of UNESCO. The resolution is a formal condemnation of Israel, referred to throughout as "the occupying Power", for allowing alleged aggression against the Palestinian people, as well as past failures to protect exclusive Muslim use of the Abrahamic holy site the Temple Mount and infrastructure work in East Jerusalem. The resolution was intended to be put to vote in Turkey in June 2016, but the 2016 Atatürk Airport attack forced UNESCO to postpone the vote until their planned reconvening in Paris during October. The extended period of time allowed the release of the news that such a resolution was to be put into vote, and Israel expressed its outrage. The resolution was put forth by the countries of Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan, and passed 24:6, with 28 abstentions. Ultimately the final count was 23:7, still guaranteeing ratification.

The resolution garnered brief international controversy following its ratification, drawing from accusations of Temple denial, anti-Semitism, and denialism.

Controversy

Prior to the ratification of the resolution, the main object of controversy was the terminology used in the text to refer to the Temple Mount. Though a sentence was later added to acknowledge the "importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls for the three monotheistic religions",[1] it referred to the sacred hilltop compound in Jerusalem's Old City only by its Muslim name, "Al-Haram al-Sharif", without also acknowledging the Jewish name, Har HaBayit, or using more neutral or inclusive terminology. Though the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb are both listed with their Islamic and English names later in the document, none of the sites are mentioned by their older Hebrew names, including the Western Wall (Kotel HaMaaravi), which is only referred to as Al-Buraq Plaza / Western Wall Plaza. This led some to accuse UNESCO of denying both Jewish and Christian ties to the Temple Mount. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the document a testament to UNESCO's growing intolerance towards Israel and the Jewish people,[2] likening the resolution to denying Egypt's connection the Pyramids of Giza or China's connection to the Great Wall of China.

The resolution was also condemned as anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist propaganda by numerous parties, claiming that the clear attempt to remove non-Islamic ties to Israel and its holy sites is detrimental to the peace process between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab World as a whole. Mexico's envoy to UNESCO, Andrés Roemer, was fired from his position after he refused to give the Mexican government's support of the resolution and walked out of the hall.[3] (The Mexican government later retracted its support of the resolution.[4]) The resolution was also heavily criticized for its apparent demonization of Israel, an example being the condemnation of Israel for preventing further construction on the grounds of the Temple Mount in order to prevent damage, following a prerogative set by the Islamic Waqf that oversees the hilltop compound in 1996. The resolution was condemned by Ban Ki-moon and the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova who said that Judaism, Islam and Christianity have clear historical connections to Jerusalem and "to deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site. Al-Aqsa Mosque is also Temple Mount, whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism."[5][6][7] It was also rejected by the Czech Parliament which said the resolution reflects a "hateful anti-Israel sentiment",[8] and hundreds of Italian Jews demonstrated in Rome over Italy's abstention.[8] On October 26, UNESCO approved a reviewed version of the resolution, which also criticized Israel for its continuous "refusal to let the body's experts access Jerusalem's holy sites to determine their conservation status."[9] Despite containing some softening of language following Israeli protests over a previous version, Israel continued to denounce the text.[10] Following the passing of the resolution, Israel officially cut all ties with UNESCO.

Following the document's ratification, UNESCO was met with international condemnation. Palestinian leaders welcomed the decision.[11]

At present, it appears tensions are still tight between UNESCO and Israel. In early December, Netanyahu released a stream of tweets sardonically tagging UNESCO with archaeological findings in Israel,[12] indicating there is still conflict between the two parties.

The ratification of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, the first UNSC resolution to pass regarding Israel and the Palestine territories since 2009,[13] and the first to address the issue of Israeli settlements with such specificity since Resolution 465 in 1980,[14][15] in late December served to seriously intensify conflict between Israel and the UN as a whole. While the resolution did not include any sanction or coercive measure and was adopted under non-binding Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter, Israeli newspaper Haaretz stated it "may have serious ramifications for Israel in general and specifically for the settlement enterprise" in the medium-to-long term.[15] Netanyahu declared that nations acting against Israel's interests will pay a diplomatic and economic price, and instructed the Foreign Ministry to cancel all aid programs to Senegal, some involving programs to alleviate poverty, in response to the resolution's passage.[16][17]

In late January, newly elected Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres made clear reference to the fact that a temple once stood on the Temple Mount, and positively asserted its destruction during the siege of Jeruslaem in 70 AD during a speech commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day.[18] Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian National Authority and president of the State of Palestine later demanded that Guterres recant this claim and submit an apology to the Palestinian people.[19] In response, Guterres instead directly affirmed the existence of a Holy Temple on the Temple Mount, and was condemned by the Palestine National Authority for violating, "all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs", and chastised Guterres for overstepping his role as secretary-general.[20] Israel has not commented on the situation thus-far.

External links

References

  1. ^ Lazaroff, Tovah (13 October 2016). "UNESCO votes: No connection between Temple Mount and Judaism". Jerusalem Post. JPost Inc. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Netanyahu leads angry denunciations of 'absurd' UNESCO decision". Timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  3. ^ "Hero: Mexico's UNESCO envoy walked out to protest Islamist resolution on Jerusalem, now may get fired - UN Watch". Unwatch.org. 17 October 2016. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  4. ^ "UNESCO to vote on Jerusalem again after Mexico shifts stance". Timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  5. ^ "UNESCO Director Criticizes Resolution: Temple Mount Sacred to Both Jews, Muslims". Haaretz. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  6. ^ "UNESCO chief 'received death threats' for opposing Jerusalem motion". Times of Israel. 17 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Statement by the Director-General of UNESCO on the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls on the occasion of the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Istanbul - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". Unesco.org. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  8. ^ a b "Czech MPs slam 'hateful' UNESCO Jerusalem resolution". Timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  9. ^ "UNESCO approves new Jerusalem resolution". Aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  10. ^ Beaumont, Peter (26 October 2016). "Unesco adopts controversial resolution on Jerusalem holy sites". The Guardian.
  11. ^ "UNESCO adopts anti-Israel resolution on al-Aqsa Mosque". aljazeera.com.
  12. ^ "Benjamin Netanyahu on Twitter". Twitter.
  13. ^ "UN passes resolution on ending Israeli settlements". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  14. ^ Ravid, Barak; Khoury, Jack (10 December 2016). "Palestinians Try to Sway Obama Not to Veto UN Resolution on Israeli Settlements". Haaretz. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  15. ^ a b Ravid, Barak. "Analysis Understanding the UN Resolution on Israeli Settlements: What Are the Immediate Ramifications?", Haaretz (December 24, 2016): "But it is the first to deal so specifically with the settlements in over 35 years. The previous such resolution, Resolution 465, was adopted by the Security Council in March 1980 (you can read it in full here). That being said, since 1980, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has undergone dramatic changes, the extent of the Israeli settlement enterprise has grown dramatically, and international community's focus on the settlements as a threat to the viability of the two-state solution has also increased markedly."
  16. ^ Itamar Eichner and Tova Tzimuki, Israel retaliates for UNSC resolution with series of countermoves Ynet 25 December 2016
  17. ^ Raphael Ahren (24 December 2016). "PM cancels visit of Ukrainian PM after Kiev supports anti-settlements resolution". Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  18. ^ "Remarks at Observance of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust - United Nations Secretary-General". Un.org.
  19. ^ Congress, World Jewish. "World Jewish Congress". Worldjewishcongress.org.
  20. ^ "New U.N. Secretary General Acknowledges Jewish Ties to Jerusalem. Palestinians Demand Apology". Tabletmag.com. Retrieved 2017-05-23.