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July 5, 2017 12:48 pm

UNESCO Vote Condemning Israel as ‘Occupying Power’ in Jerusalem Invokes ‘Jewish Fake Graves’ Conspiracy Charge

avatar by Ben Cohen

The Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A resolution condemning Israel as the “occupying power” in Jerusalem passed on Tuesday by the UN’s global cultural agency, UNESCO, took as one of its foundations an earlier resolution that falsely accused Israel of planting “Jewish fake graves” in Muslim cemeteries.

At Tuesday’s session of UNESCO’s annual World Heritage Committee in the Polish city of Krakow, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and other Arab delegations pushed through a resolution that “regrets the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law.”

But one of the earlier UNESCO resolutions cited as a precedent for Tuesday’s vote accused Israel of “violations” of Palestinian properties around the Temple Mount, including two Muslim cemeteries where “Jewish fake graves” were being “planted.” That resolution was passed by UNESCO’s Executive Board in April 2016 at a meeting in Paris.

The only source for that claim — described by the Geneva-based UN Watch NGO as a “wild conspiracy charge” — was the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage, a Palestinian organization.

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“No joke: UNESCO World Heritage Cttee invoked the insane 2016 UNESCO resolution accusing Israel of planting ‘Jewish fake graves,'” tweeted UN Watch’s Executive Director, Hillel Neuer, in response to Tuesday’s vote.

The vote was not “just against Israel,” Shimon Samuels — the international affairs director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) — told The Algemeiner on Tuesday. “It is the greatest assault on Judaism since the Middle Ages.”

Drafted by Jordan and submitted by Kuwait, Tunisia and Lebanon, the resolution was passed by an open vote, after an attempt by the Polish chair to submit the document to a secret ballot – given the reluctance of some of the delegations to vote against an Arab-sponsored resolution in open session – was defeated in the face of Lebanese objections.

The final result was 10 votes in favor, with 8 abstentions and 3 votes in opposition.

Jamaica, the Philippines and Burkina Faso — all countries, one observer at the meeting noted, that are dealing with Islamist extremism and terrorism domestically — were the three countries that voted against.

Samuels warned that Tuesday’s vote was “the advance charge for the demand in the next few days for the Palestinization of Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs,” referring to a forthcoming vote — scheduled for Friday — on a Palestinian attempt to have a venerated Jewish holy site in the West Bank city of Hebron designated as an “endangered” site of “Palestinian heritage.”

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) — a professional body that investigates claims that historic sites are endangered on behalf of UNESCO — earlier rejected the Palestinian claim that the Tomb of the Patriarchs was an endangered site. ICOMOS reached the same conclusion with similar claims concerning two other UNESCO “Palestinian heritage” sites — the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2012 and the ancient irrigated terraces of Battir, near Jerusalem, in 2014.

The ICOMOS assessment on Hebron, published on Sunday, criticized the Palestinian proposal for ignoring Jewish and Christian heritage in the city, “even though extensive remains testify to these links.” Explaining the reason for its opposition to classifying Hebron as a “Palestinian world heritage site,” ICOMOS said that the Palestinian focus “only on the (Muslim) Mamluk period (of Hebron’s heritage) … means that potentially outstanding aspects of Hebron’s urban history and persistence have been overlooked.”

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