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Israel decries UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem on sovereignty, archaelogical excavations

6th Jul 2017
Israel decries UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem on sovereignty, archaelogical excavations

JERUSALEM (AA) Israel on Wednesday decried a UNESCO resolution rejecting its sovereignty over Jerusalem and condemning Israeli “archaeological excavations” in Jerusalem’s Old City.

In a statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry described the resolution as “irrelevant, absurd and pathetic”.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and no decision by UNESCO can change that reality,” the ministry asserted.

On Tuesday, the executive board of the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the resolution with 10 member states voting in favor, three voting against, and eight abstaining.

The resolution slammed “the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law”.

The resolution further stated that “legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered — or purport to alter — the character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem… are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith”.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett likewise condemned the resolution, which, he asserted, would “not change the Jewish connection to Jerusalem”.

“Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish people long before Islam and will remain Israel’s capital forever,” he said.

In a statement, Jerusalem’s Jordanian-run Authority for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs said the resolution had served to highlight “the illegality of any change caused by the Israeli occupation in the Old City of Jerusalem and its environs since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967”.

It also hailed the resolution for condemning “repeated incursions by [Jewish] extremists and occupation forces [into Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex] and the desecration of the holiness of the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a place of worship for Muslims only”.

Last year, UNESCO passed a similar resolution describing Jerusalem as an “occupied” city and Israel as an “occupying power”, which — under international law — has no sovereignty over the historic city.

The same resolution stated that Jerusalem’s Old City was “entirely Palestinian”, going on to emphasize its historical “Muslim and Christian” identity and heritage.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. In a move never recognized by the international community, it unilaterally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its “eternal and undivided” capital.

[Photo: Thousands of Muslim worshipers perform prayer on Laylat Al-Qadr in the Muslim’s holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard in Jerusalem on June 16, 2017. Photographer: Mostafa Alkharouf/AA]

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