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UNESCO reaffirms stand on Jerusalem, supports Arab-proposed decision

The Dome of the Rock is seen on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City October 26, 2015. Monday's visit to the compound was low-key by most standards - no fighting broke out, no one was ejected by the police, everyone left calmly and life returned to normal. But in critical ways it cut to the heart of an issue fuelling the worst violence between Palestinians and Israel in years: whether the status quo at the site, also known as the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, is being properly enforced. REUTERS/Ammar Awad   - RTX1TBRT

The Dome of the Rock is seen on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City October 26, 2015. Monday's visit to the compound was low-key by most standards - no fighting broke out, no one was ejected by the police, everyone left calmly and life returned to normal. But in critical ways it cut to the heart of an issue fuelling the worst violence between Palestinians and Israel in years: whether the status quo at the site, also known as the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, is being properly enforced. REUTERS/Ammar Awad - RTX1TBRT

REUTERS/Ammar Awad - RTX1TBRT

03 May 2017

AMMAN — UNESCO's Executive Board on Tuesday, in its 201st session being held in Paris currently, voted with a majority in favour of a Jerusalem item in the draft resolution "Occupied Palestine", reasserting previous decisions.

Twenty-two countries voted in favour of the resolution, which was submitted to UNESCO’s Executive Board by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, according to the UNESCO website.

The decision reaffirms the authentic Arab and Islamic identity of Jerusalem and its holy sites and stresses that "all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith".

The draft decision also recalled the provisions of the four Geneva Conventions (1949) and their additional protocols (1977), the 1907 Hague Regulations on Land Warfare, the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) and its additional protocols, among others. 

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It affirmed that nothing in the current decision, which aims, among others, at the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem, “shall in any way affect the relevant Security Council and United Nations resolutions and decisions on the legal status of Palestine and Jerusalem, including United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 [2016]”.

The draft decision reaffirmed the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions.

The resolution also regretted the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works and projects in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law.

The board reiterated its request to Israel to prohibit all violations which are not in conformity with the provisions of the relevant UNESCO conventions, resolutions and decisions.

On the Archaeological Park just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, the board regretted the Israeli refusal to implement the UNESCO plan to appoint a permanent representative to be stationed in East Jerusalem to report on a regular basis on all aspects covering the fields of competence of UNESCO in East Jerusalem, and reiterated its request to the UNSECO’s director general to appoint, as soon as possible, the above-mentioned representative.

The board re-stressed the urgent need to implement the UNESCO reactive monitoring mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, and invited the director general and the World Heritage Centre to exert all possible efforts to ensure the prompt implementation of the mission.

The UNSECO also deplored the continuous Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip, while regarding the two Palestinian sites of Al Haram Al Ibrahimi in Al Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque in Bethlehem, the decision reaffirmed that the two concerned sites located in Al Khalil/Hebron and in Bethlehem are an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory, and shared the conviction affirmed by the international community that the two sites are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

It also deplored the ongoing Israeli excavations, works, construction of private roads for settlers and of a wall inside the Old City of Al Khalil/Hebron, which are illegal under international law, and regretted the visual impact of the Wall on the site of Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque in Bethlehem as well as the strict ban on access of Palestinian Christian and Muslim worshippers to the site.

© Jordan Times 2017

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