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    Jewish worshippers draped in prayer shawls perform the annual Cohanim prayer (priest's blessing) during Sukkot, or the feast of the Tabernacles, holiday at the Western Wall in the old city of Jerusalem on September 30, 2015

    Palestinians Go To UNESCO With Claim on Jerusalem's Western Wall

    © AFP 2017/ GIL COHEN-MAGEN
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    UNESCO is considering a resolution proposed by several Arab nations on behalf of Palestine, which claims Jerusalem's Western Wall, regarded as the most sacred site in Judaism, is part of the al-Aksa Mosque compound.

    A resolution claiming the Western Wall in the old city of Jerusalem on behalf of Palestinians is being considered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], which has asked the organization to rename the wall "Buraq Plaza."

    The resolution "affirms that the Buraq Plaza [the Western Wall] is an integral part of al-Aksa Mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif," reports the Israeli press, and was proposed on behalf of Palestine by Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. The proposal is being considered by UNESCO's executive board, which is comprised of the representatives of 58 countries.

    The Israeli press reports that the resolution additionally seeks to claim the Mughrabi Gate, also on the Temple Mount, for the Palestinians, and condemns Israeli actions in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, which it calls "the occupied capital of Palestine."

    The resolution also blames the Israeli government for the escalation in violence in recent months after a wave of terror attacks, and retaliation from security forces. According to the resolution, the government's recent call on citizens to bear arms in response has led to the intensification of the cycle of violence.

    On Tuesday, ahead of the vote on the resolution which is expected to take place on Wednesday, UNESCO's Director-General Irina Bokova said she "deplores the recent proposals under discussion by the UNESCO Executive Board that could be seen to alter the status of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, and that could further incite tensions."

    A statement released by the director-general’s office said Bokova "appeals to the UNESCO Executive Board to take decisions that do not further inflame tensions on the ground and that encourage respect for the sanctity of the holy sites."

    The Western Wall, regarded as the holiest site in Judaism, is all that remains of the Second Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, and formed part of four walls erected by King Herod around the Temple Mount. 

    The Wall is located adjacent to the al-Aksa Mosque at the Temple Mount, part of the territory taken over by Israel when it captured East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.  An unwritten agreement between Israel and Palestine has since allowed the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf to continue its administration of the site, an arrangement which forbids Jews from praying at the al-Aksa Mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims.

    While right-wing Jewish politicians are pushing for the right of Jews to pray at the Temple Mount, Palestinians claim that some Jews are violating the status quo by praying there, and fear that the site will be divided. Because of the restrictions on non-Muslims praying at the site, the nearby Western Wall has become a focal point for Jewish prayer.

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    Tags:
    palestinians, draft resolution, resolution, UNESCO, East Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem's Temple Mount
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