JERUSALEM, Israel – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee voted Wednesday to approve a resolution ignoring Jewish ties to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City.
The vote mirrored last week's resolution by UNESCO's Executive Committee declaring the Temple Mount and Western Wall Islamic, severing the historical Jewish connection to the sites and labeling Israel the "occupying power."
This week's resolution passed after a dramatic standoff between Israel and Palestinians. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan tried to pressure a consensus vote, or they would intentionally strengthen the Muslim claims to Jerusalem in the resolution.
In response to this threat, Israeli media bluffed that Israel was expecting a major loss with a consensus vote. However, the meeting took the Palestinian Authority for surprise when the resolution passed with less than a majority vote. Only ten of the 21 member states voted in favor while others either abstained or opposed it. By that time, it was too late for the Arab countries to try and push the harder version of the resolution.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately condemned the resolution, saying it was a direct blow to the U.N. as a whole.
"What needs to be understood, and it will take time, is that this absurdity, which harms not only the historical truth and the truth of the present, but also harms in my opinion the U.N. itself," he said.
U.S. Ambassador Crystal Nix Hines agreed with Netanyahu and highlighted the United Nations' repeated attacks against Israel.
"This item should have been defeated ... These politicized and one-sided resolutions are damaging the credibility of UNESCO," Nix Hines said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Israeli leaders also recognize this resolution as an attack on Christianity as well.
At a press conference Tuesday, Israeli archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay reminded reporters of Christianity's connection to the Temple Mount, saying Jesus and the Temple Mount are referred to more than 20 times in the New Testament.
Barkay said anyone "…who tries to jeopardize the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount actually undermines Christianity because it is based on Jesus and his connection to the Temple Mount."
American Christian leaders spoke out loudly against the resolution, calling it a profound affront to peace and blatant history revisionism in the political arena.
"UNESCO was created to bring nations together through culture, not to deny certain cultures for political reasons. Peace in the Middle East will live or die on mutual respect between peoples. Now more than ever, Christians and Jews must stand together in opposition of this attempt to rewrite history," said Robert Nicholson, President of the Philos Project.
Earlier this week, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova released a statement distancing herself from the resolution and vowing to address the organization's deep-rooted anti-Semitic and anti-Israel agenda.
"In the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant," Bokova wrote.
In a weekend phone call with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Netanyahu said even the theater of the absurd has limits, noting it was not a political question but one of historical facts.
"To say that the Jewish people have no connection to Jerusalem is like saying that the sun creates darkness," Renzi said.
Bokova also responded to Education Minister Naftali Bennett's decision to freeze Israeli support for UNESCO.
"Allow me to reassure you of my absolute commitment to continue all efforts in countering all forms of anti-Semitism, including those drawing on partial or distorted visions of culture and history, as well as those that seek to challenge the existence of Israel," the Times of Israel quoted her letter.
Nearly two weeks ago, 39 U.S. legislators from both the House and Senate sent a letter urging members of UNESCO's Executive Committee to oppose the latest Temple Mount resolution despite the fact that it had adopted a similar resolution in April.
On Monday, a bipartisan group of 10 U.S. lawmakers sent another letter urging the World Heritage Committee to reject the resolution, calling it "every bit as divisive as the Executive Board resolution."
The United States voted against it.