Conference of Presidents Outraged at UNESCO World Heritage Committee Draft Resolution on “Old City of Jerusalem and Its Walls” and Calls on UN Secretary General, UNESCO Director General and World Leaders to Reject Biased and Insulting Resolution

New York, NY

Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations today expressed outrage at the draft resolution presented to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee at its meetings in Istanbul, Turkey, calling it “a further escalation of the Palestinian strategy to politicize and pervert UNESCO’s mission and erase thousands of years of Judeo-Christian history and heritage.”

In a statement issued today, Conference of Presidents Chairman, Stephen M. Greenberg and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Malcolm Hoenlein said:

“Over the last several years, the Palestinians have repeatedly abused the fora and procedures of UNESCO as part of a concerted strategy to deny the historic connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel—an assault on the very legitimacy of a Jewish state.  Eradicating the traditional names, distorting the history and falsely charging desecration is part of the attempt to deny the right of the Jewish state to exist.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has generally been a willing accessory to Palestinian's efforts to erase the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, by falsely accusing Israel of deliberately damaging Islamic holy sites and routinely preventing Muslims access to them, and by referring to holy sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam exclusively by Arabic names.

The latest resolution under consideration by the World Heritage Committee is replete with outright lies, distortions, and insults to Judaism and Christianity.  This political manipulation undermines UNESCO's mission to ensure the preservation and protection of endangered religious and cultural sites.  It is a further escalation of the Palestinian strategy to politicize and pervert UNESCO’s mission and erase thousands of years of Judeo-Christian history and heritage. 

Israel has worked for decades to preserve and protect holy sites sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews, and is providing assistance for important renovation work at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher after bringing the Christian sects together in order to move the project forward. Despite the political interference of the Palestinian leadership, Israel has also sought to cooperate with Jordan for the preservation and protection of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.

The false claims made in the resolution have serious and potentially tragic real world consequences, which are harmful to the prospects for promoting peace in the Middle East. 

We call on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UNESCO Director General Bokova and world leaders to clearly and forcefully reject this biased and insulting resolution.”

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The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 50 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern

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