Jerusalem asks Holy See for help with Unesco vote on Jerusalem
In an unusual move, Israel has sought the Holy See’s help in forestalling Unesco’s adopting a Palestinian recommendation to deny any Jewish affiliation with Jerusalem and the Temple Mount Thursday afternoon, arguing that it will also harm Christians.
The Palestinians have demanded that an international delegation of experts be sent to the holy sites to examine what they have described as the destruction of historical and archeological heritage by Israel. They allege that this has been carried out in a variety of manners, including the building of the Jerusalem light rail and archeological excavations.
Israel, along with the United States, has been working in recent weeks to reduce the majority support within Unesco’s executive board. France, which supported the Palestinians in April, has promised to vote against this proposal.
The Palestinians are seeking, inter alia, to appoint a Unesco permanent observer in Jerusalem and to appoint a series of condemnations of Israeli activities, such as the alleged demolition of a school in Kfar Adumim. (Israel claims that it was a dilapidated caravan that was destroyed and not a school.”
The Holy See holds non-voting observer status at Unesco, though its head of delegation, Msgr. Francesco Follo, is a part of the behind-the-scenes dynamics. Israel has tried to convince the Catholic delegation that the Palestinians are working to disregard not just the Jewish connection to Israel’s capital, but also the Christian connection.
Israeli Ambassador Designate to the Holy See, Oren David, contacted the Vatican’s UnderSecretary for Relations with States Antoine Camilleri on the matter and asked the Holy See to work to convince the Unesco member states not to support the Palestinian initiative.