Israel freezes Unesco ties for denying allegedly Jewish holy sites

Date: 
October, 2016
Country: 
Israel

Israel has suspended cooperation with UNESCO a day after the UN cultural body passed a resolution that sharply criticised Israeli policies around al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while supposedly rejecting Jewish ties to the holy site in occupied East Jerusalem.

The resolution condemned Israel for restricting Muslims access to the site, and for aggression by police and soldiers. It also recognised Israel as the occupying power.

"This is an important message to Israel that it must end its occupation and recognise the Palestinian state and Jerusalem as its capital with its sacred Muslim and Christian sites," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest issues of the decades-long Palestinian struggle for independence.

Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is the third-holiest site in Islam. It is located in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed following its invasion in 1967 - in a move never recognised by the international community - as part of its subsequent military occupation of the West Bank.

Jewish settlers and Zionist organisations have called for complete Jewish control over the mosque compound.

Jewish groups refer to the site as the "Temple Mount" and their increased incursions into the mosque compound have continuously led to Palestinian protests across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military and armed settler incursions have resulted in Palestinian deaths and injuries in recent years in particular. Muslim access to the religious site has also been tremendously limited by the army.

Israel and the US denounced the UNESCO resolution.