JERUSALEM is one of the world`s most sacred and contested cities. Yet what is beyond doubt is that ever since 1967, Israel has been occupying Arab East Jerusalem, a fact that virtually the entire global community recognises. However, any mention of the city`s Palestinian and Arab character, and the fact that it is under illegal occupation, is enough to send the Israeli establishment which considers the city its `eternal capital`into a paroxysm of rage. This is exactly what happened when Unesco recently passed an Arab-sponsored resolution critical of Israel`s actions in the holy city. The resolution refers to `occupied Palestine` and terms the Zionist state the `occupying power`, while criticising Israeli attempts to restrict Muslims` access to the Al Aqsa complex.
As a result of the Unesco resolution, which was passed by a vote of 24-6, with 26 abstentions, Israel has `suspended` cooperation with the UN`s cultural body, while claiming that the resolution denies Jewish historical links to Al Aqsa, which Israel refers to as the Temple Mount. This accusation is patently false as the resolution recognises the fact that Jerusalem Al Quds to the Arabs is sacred to all three great monotheistic faiths: Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
What the document highlights much to Tel Aviv`s chagrin is Israel`s high-handedness in Jerusalem. In the recent past, there have been calls by extremist Jews to demolish Al Aqsa and replace it with the `Third Temple`.
Unesco has taken a bold step by passing the resolution, even though many in the Western bloc opposed it. The UN body in the past has also taken progressive steps where the Arab-Israeli dispute is concerned; for example, in 2011 it admitted Palestine as a member, for which it was punished by the US Israel`s biggest benefactor as Washington blocked funds for the cultural body. The Unesco resolution may be a small victory for the Palestinians; but perhaps it offers this dispossessed nation the hope that, one day, they will be able to live with freedom and dignity in their homeland.
Source: Daily Dawn