The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided this week to postpone a vote on a resolution that would have referred to the Har Habayis in Jerusalem as a site that is holy only for Muslims. The move means that UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will deliberate the matter when the forum reconvenes in October or later.
The heritage committee’s 40th session was set to conclude July 20, but was suspended Saturday due to the attempted coup in Turkey a day earlier. On Sunday, it reconvened to discuss several final items, but it left other matters for the next session in October. The draft resolution, which refers to the Temple Mount as Al-Haram al-Sharif (“The Noble Sanctuary”) while ignoring the Jewish ties to the site, had been expected to come up for a vote, but due to the shortened timetable and Israeli efforts, this did not occur by the time the session was over Sunday.
At the start of Sunday’s discussions, Lebanon’s UNESCO ambassador asked that the committee discuss the Jerusalem draft resolution. He was joined by the Palestinian and Peruvian ambassadors. But the Israeli ambassador, Carmel Shama Hacohen, asked that the issue be deliberated at a later date. This view, which was supported by the European Union ambassador as well as the ambassadors of Finland, Poland, and Portugal, ultimately prevailed, and the body decided to delay any further discussions on the matter until October.
Shama Hacohen later told Israel Hayom, “Such cases, where the majority supports the Israeli view rather than the view of the Palestinians and the Arab states, are rare. This is a result of the hard and coordinated work, carried out by all those involved, and it is partly because we were lucky. When the circumstances changed as a result of the attempted coup, we reassessed the situation and realized that obtaining a majority was a real possibility.” (JNS)