Four U.S. senators, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), are urging President Barack Obama to suspend ties with the UN’s cultural and historical organization over its “anti-Israel” resolution airbrushing out Jewish and Christian links to holy sites in Jerusalem.
In its adoption of the “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls,” the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee referred to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem only by its Islamic name.
This is “another shameful, anti-Israel resolution denying any connection between Jews, Christians and holy sites in Jerusalem, such as the Temple Mount and Western Wall,” U.S. Sens. Rubio, Mark Kirk (R-IL), David Perdue (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), said in a joint statement.
Their position is echoed by outside advocacy groups, including Restoration PAC.
“I agree that we should disassociate with UNESCO, which shamefully is trying to delegitimize any connection between Jews and Christians to the holy sites in Jerusalem,” Restoration PAC’s Doug Truax told Florida Business Daily. “Our country should not be associated with such a shameful rewriting of truthful history.”
The resolution that passed earlier this month contains 41 sections. It does refer to “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions.”
But the resolution refers specifically to the Mount by its Islamic name, "Al-Haram al-Sharif." It does not use the words "Temple Mount” and is highly critical of Israel.
Outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon criticized the vote, highlighting the importance of Jerusalem’s Old City to all three religions.
“The Al Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram al-Sharif, the sacred shrine of Muslims, is also the Har HaBayit, or Temple Mount, whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism, a few steps away from the Saint Sepulcher church and the Mount of Olives, which is revered by Christians," Ban said in a statement.
The four senators said the resolution was authored by the Palestinian and Jordanian delegations, and submitted by Kuwait, Lebanon and Tunisia.
“At a time when the Middle East is in turmoil and historical heritage sites are being destroyed by groups such as ISIS, it is imperative that the U.S. stands with Israel, our closest ally and the sole democracy in the region,” the senators wrote in their letter to President Obama. "Recent UNESCO resolutions that deny Jewish and Christian ties to holy sites in Jerusalem not only reinforce the necessity of withholding American funding from this counterproductive U.N. organization, but also call into question future U.S. membership in UNESCO.”
Earlier this month, Sens. Rubio and Kirk asked Secretary of State John Kerry to make a public announcement opposing and condemning a UNESCO resolution on "Occupied Palestine."
In 1984, the U.S. severed ties with UNESCO due to disparities between American foreign policy goals and UNESCO’s agenda, the senators said.
“Because UNESCO continues to deviate from its founding mission and adopt one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions, it is time for the U.S. to stand with Israel and suspend our ties with UNESCO,” the senators said. "U.S law already forbids American taxpayer money from going to UNESCO. We urge your administration to join Israel in suspending ties to UNESCO."
In October 2011, after UNESCO admitted the non-state actor of “Palestine” as a member, the United States withheld funding from UNESCO pursuant to U.S. law, the senators said.
“Recent UNESCO resolutions that deny Jewish and Christian ties to holy sites in Jerusalem not only reinforce the necessity of withholding American funding from this counterproductive U.N. organization, but also call into question future U.S. membership in UNESCO,” the senators said.