The Palestinian leadership, with key Arab support, is set to submit a new draft resolution to the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), declaring, among other things, that the Western Wall is "solely and exclusively an integral part of the al-Aqsa Mosque". The draft is said to be sponsored by Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Palestinian draft also condemns Israel for the measures taken by security forces in the wake of the recent escalation in Israel and the West Bank, accuses Israel of violating status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and contends that the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb are part of the alleged Palestinian state.
At no point does the proposal acknowledge a Jewish association with the Wall, one which clearly dates to biblical times. Instead it ignores a Jewish connection to the site altogether. This gross attempt to erase history is unconscionable and cannot be accepted by the UNESCO Executive Board.
Israel has shown remarkable restraint in dealing with the current crisis and has strictly maintained the status quo on the Temple Mount, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has affirmed more than once. The Palestinian leadership, on the other hand, has engaged in encouragement and incitement of violence against Israel and Jews over the past three weeks, culminating in this draft resolution.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a political conflict between two peoples with competing national goals, and it should be addressed as such. By turning it into a religious conflict such as the recent burning of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus by Palestinian extremists and now the attempt to claim ownership over the Western Wall and other holy sites the Palestinians are rendering the conflict all the more difficult to resolve.
We at Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford applaud UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova's recent statement that she deplores the proposal and that she is working with other members of UNESCO's Executive Board to postpone a vote on it indefinitely. "We all have responsibility to UNESCO's mandate, to take decisions that promote dialogue, tolerance and peace," said Bokova.
Help get this deplorable resolution removed from UNESCO's agenda, or at the very least voted down, by writing to the Consul General at "United States Mission to the United Nations, 799 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017".
We urge the United Nations to see this for the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic attack that it is, to consider the damaging effects this change would have to Israel and the entire Middle East, to oppose the resolution and to remove it from the agenda forever.
Thank you for your support at this critical time.
President & CEO