Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO on Friday, a day after the U.N. cultural agency adopted a draft resolution that Israel says denies the deep historic Jewish connection to holy sites in Jerusalem. UNESCO's draft resolution — sponsored by several Arab countries — refers to "Occupied Palestine" and the need to "safeguard the Palestinian cultural heritage and the distinctive character of east Jerusalem." It uses only the Islamic name for a hilltop compound sacred to both Jews and Muslims, which includes the Western Wall, a remnant of the biblical temple and the holiest site where Jews can pray.
Following the shameful decision by UNESCO members to deny history and ignore thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, I have notified the Israel National Commission for UNESCO to suspend all professional activities with the international organization.Education Minister Naftali Bennett in a letter sent to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova
Israelis and many Jews around the world viewed it as the latest example of an ingrained anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, where Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters. The spat is the latest in Israel's rocky relations with UNESCO, which it accuses of making decisions out of political considerations. Israel captured east Jerusalem, with sites holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians claim the territory as part of their future state, and its fate is one of the most contentious issues in the decades-old conflict. The dispute over Jerusalem's holiest site ignited a wave of violence this time last year. Since then, Palestinian attackers have killed 36 Israelis and two visiting Americans, mainly in stabbings. About 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.