Controversial Jerusalem resolution passes


UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has voted to approve a resolution criticised by Israel as ignoring Jewish ties to a key holy site in Jerusalem, the second such decision approved by the UN body in a month.

Wednesday's decision, which was made by a secret ballot vote rather than passed through a general consensus, drew criticism from committee chairwoman Lale Ulker, who said she was "looking forward to having a consensus on this draft resolution."

Responding to the document's criticism of Israel, Tel Aviv's ambassador to UNESCO in Paris, Carmel Shama, said the "resolution paper is not even worth the energy needed to tear it to shreds" before throwing a copy of the text into a bin with "History" written on it.

In a draft of the resolution from April, Israel was heavily criticised for its control mechanisms at the al-Aqsa Mosque on the platform at Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

Throughout the text, Temple Mount is referred to in quotation marks, interpreted as questioning Judaism's ties to the holy site.

Ten countries had voted in favour of the decision, while two were against and eight abstained. One member was not present.

The draft resolution, titled Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, was submitted to the committee by Kuwait, Lebanon and Tunisia on behalf of Jordan and Palestine, who are not on the World Heritage Committee.

Criticism of the World Heritage Committee decision mirrors protest over a resolution passed last week by UNESCO's executive board, which largely ignored Jewish terms for holy sites, angering many Israeli Jews.

The Old City of Jerusalem has been a World Heritage Site since 1981.