House Jewish Members Condemn ‘Offensive’ UNESCO Resolution

All of the nineteen of Jewish members of the House of Representatives, including Rep. Lee Zeldin, the sole Republican Congressman, issued a statement on Wednesday calling out UNESCO over its resolution condemning Israel for the recent surge in violence, blaming Israel for violating the status quo on the Temple Mount, and designating ancient sites as Muslim sites.

“The resolution adopted by the UNESCO Executive Board condemning Israel for the recent surge in violence can serve no purpose other than to escalate tensions, exacerbate religious conflict, and further incite violence,” the bipartisan statement reads. “This resolution, submitted by the six Arab member countries of UNESCO on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, is offensive and incendiary.”

The initial resolution included designating the Western Wall as a Muslim site, but that was omitted from the final resolution voted upon on Wednesday. The resolution by the Executive Board stated that UNESCO “decries the continuous Israeli targeting of civilians including religious figures, sheikhs, and priests, further decries the large number of arrests and injuries among Muslim worshipers and Jordanian Wakf guards in al-Aksa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif by the Israeli forces and also urges Israel, the occupying power, to end these aggressions and abuses which inflame the tension on the ground and in between faiths.”

The Jewish coalition called the designation of Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as exclusively Muslim sites “dismissive of other religious traditions.”

“The continued refusal to show any respect or recognition for the legitimacy of Jewish existence in the ancient Jewish homeland once again demonstrates a central obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” the Congressmen stated.

Read a full text of the statement below:

“The resolution adopted by the UNESCO Executive Board condemning Israel for the recent surge in violence can serve no purpose other than to escalate tensions, exacerbate religious conflict, and further incite violence. This resolution, submitted by the six Arab member countries of UNESCO on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, is offensive and incendiary. We commend the Administration for opposing the resolution, and for demonstrating once again the need for the U.S. to maintain a strong presence in international institutions.

“Furthermore, the continued false allegations against Israel as having violated the status quo at the Temple Mount, which is under the custodianship of Jordan and the Wakf Muslim religious trust, and blaming Israel for the surge in violent attacks, must be condemned. Such accusations have been perpetrated by the Palestinian leadership to incite continued violence, and the resulting attacks targeting Israeli civilians in recent weeks are an outrage. There is zero justification for such acts of terrorism, and the world cannot remain silent and certainly must not take actions that could add to the false and inflammatory incitement of violence.

“As Jewish Members of the United States House of Representatives, we believe strongly in respecting the religious history and protecting the religious freedoms of Muslims, Jews, and Christians. That means respecting the claims of both Jews and Muslims to holy sites which have significance for both religions. Designating Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as exclusively Muslim sites is dismissive of other religious traditions, and the continued refusal to show any respect or recognition for the legitimacy of Jewish existence in the ancient Jewish homeland once again demonstrates a central obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer said in a statement, “I am deeply disappointed that UNESCO adopted a resolution today that denies Jewish history in Israel.. International forums, such as UNESCO, should never be used to delegitimize Israel.”