The UN gave its preliminary approval to a resolution that referred to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Haram al-Sharif.
The resolution passed at the UN’s Fourth Committee in New York 154-8, with 14 abstentions and 17 absences. It was one of eight pro-Palestinian resolutions approved on Friday, out of a slate of more than 15 such texts the committee is expected to approve. The UN General Assembly will take a final vote on the texts in December.
Ben Bourgel, the Israeli political coordinator at the UN mission in New York, pushed the committee on the issue of Jerusalem, asking why it was so difficult for UN member states to use the phrase Temple Mount.
“Is it acceptable in this committee’s view that in the resolutions presented it is inconceivable to add the phrase ‘Temple Mount?’” Bourgel asked.
His remarks referenced the resolution entitled, “Enforcing Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.”
That text states that the UN is “gravely concerned by the tensions and violence in the recent period throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem and including with regard to the holy places of Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif.”
The resolution makes no mention of the Jewish name for the area, the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site, and Islam’s third holiest site.
Israel in the last five years has fought a pitched and very public battle against such language at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) based in Paris. In the last two few years, what had been known as the Jerusalem resolution has been neutralized, in an effort to tone down politicization at UNESCO.
But scant attention has been paid to similarly worded texts in annual anti-Israel resolutions in New York. Unlike at UNESCO, the text did mention the connection between Jerusalem and the three monotheistic religions, but did not link that connection specifically to the Old City or to its Temple Mount.
The resolution reaffirmed “the special significance of the holy sites and the importance of the City of Jerusalem for the three monotheistic religions.”
The US and Israel voted against the resolution and the other seven, the only two countries to vote against all eight texts. They were joined in their opposition to the Jerusalem text by Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Nauru.
All 28 European Union member states supported this resolution, along with six others. But a Finnish representative, who spoke to the Fourth Committee on behalf of the EU, said it disagreed with attempts by Arab states to solely reference the Temple Mount by its Muslim name of Haram al-Sharif.
New language linking Jerusalem with the three monotheistic religions is welcome, but the text had not gone far enough in underscoring that connection, the Finnish representative said.“
The EU understands the language on the holy sites of Jerusalem as reflecting the importance and historical significance of both the city of Jerusalem and the holy sites for three monotheistic religions,” the representative said. “The EU stresses the need for language on terminology that reflects respect for religious and cultural sensitivities. The future choice of language may affect the EU’s collective support for this resolution.”
Out of the eight approved resolutions, three involved the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees. This included a resolution to extended UNRWA’s mandate by three years.
A fourth resolution to ensure the protection of Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues within sovereign Israel passed 162-6, with nine abstentions. The text reaffirmed that “Palestine refugees are entitled to their property and to the income derived therefrom, in conformity with the principles of equity and justice.” The text also asked the UN to protect “Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel.”
A NUMBER of the resolutions took issue with past and future Israeli attempts to annex territory over the pre-1967 lines.
“The occupation of a territory is to be a temporary, de facto situation, whereby the occupying power can neither claim possession nor exert its sovereignty over the territory it occupies,” a resolution stated. That same resolution recalled “the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of land by force and therefore the illegality of the annexation of any part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” It also expressed “grave concern at recent statements calling for the annexation by Israel of areas in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Some of the resolutions condemned Israeli actions in Gaza. In one instance, a line was added condemning Palestinian rocket attacks without pointing at either Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
A resolution on the Golan Heights took Israel to task for its annexation of that territory, which it captured from Syria after being attacked in the 1967 Six Day War.
“Reaffirming once more the illegality of the decision of 14 December 1981 taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan, which has resulted in the effective annexation of that territory,” it said. The resolution was approved 155-2, with 19 abstentions. Prior to the vote, Brazil explained its abstention, explaining that the text was unbalanced in that it only referred to Israel actions and did not also address Syrian violations.
Acting US Deputy Representative to the United Nations Cherith Norman Chalet told the Fourth Committee it opposed the “annual submission of more than a dozen resolutions biased against Israel. This one-sided approach only undermines trust between the parties, and fails to create the kind of positive international environment critical to achieving peace.“
We are disappointed that despite support for reform, member states continue to disproportionately single out Israel through these types of resolutions,” she said. “It is deplorable that the United Nations – an institution founded upon the idea that all nations should be treated equally – should be so often used by member states to treat one state in particular, Israel, unequally.“
As the United States has repeatedly made clear, this dynamic is unacceptable,” Chalet continued. “We see resolutions that are quick to condemn all manner of Israeli actions, but say nothing or almost nothing about terrorist attacks against innocent civilians. And so the United States will once again vote against these one-sided resolutions and encourages other nations to do so.”