In response, CFI’s Parliamentary Chairman Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP, CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE and CFI Executive Director James Gurd, said:
“UNESCO’s vote to deny the historic connection of the Jewish people to the Temple Mount is an affront to both history and the Jewish community worldwide.
“The UK’s principled vote against this deplorable motion deserves praise and we hope that the UK will impress upon its international partners how unacceptable this move is”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision “absurd”, and President Reuven Rivlin described it as an “embarrassment” for UNESCO.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids. By this absurd decision, UNESCO has lost what little legitimacy it had left”.
President Rivlin echoed these sentiments, stating that “no forum or body in the world can come and deny the connection between the Jewish people, the Land of Israel and Jerusalem – and any such body that does so simply embarrasses itself”.
He underlined: “We can understand criticism, but you cannot change history”.
The official text of the resolution failed to acknowledge Judaism’s links to the Temple Mount, the religion’s holiest site for over three thousand years, by referring to Jerusalem holy sites by their Muslim names only.
The motion accuses Israel of “escalating aggressions and illegal measures… against the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their Holy Site Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif, and requests Israel, the Occupying Power, to respect the historic Status Quo and to immediately stop these measures”.
Although the motion acknowledges that Jerusalem is holy to the three monotheistic religions, the section dealing specifically with the Temple Mount says the site is sacred only to Muslims, failing to acknowledge its significance to Jews as well.
24 countries at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation voted in favour of the resolution, which was put forward by the Palestinian delegation with the support of several Arab countries including Egypt, Lebanon and Algeria, while six voted against and 26 abstained.
The UK, together with the US, voted against the resolution, which has been condemned by lawmakers, with charges of anti-Semitism made across political divides.
The resolution was adopted at the committee stage and will be submitted on Tuesday to UNESCO’s executive body, which is expected to approve it next week.
Voting in favour were: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chad, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam.
Voting against were: Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States.
Abstaining were: Albania, Argentina, Cameroon, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, India, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, Paraguay, Saint Vincent and Nevis, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Ukraine.
Absent were: Serbia and Turkmenistan.
Read the full text of the resolution here.