Following the passing of resolutions in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that deny Jewish and Christian connections to the Temple Mount, many world leaders spoke out. New Zealand politicians did not.
In a rare move, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, distanced himself from the resolution, saying
any perceived undertaking to repudiate the undeniable common reverence for these sites does not serve the interests of peace and will only feed violence and radicalism.”Ban Ki-moon
Shalom.Kiwi also reported statements of outrage from the UNESCO Director General and other world leaders, including apologies from the Italian Prime Minster and a formal change of vote from Mexico.
Only a relatively small number of countries were eligible to vote for the resolutions, which were passed by the 58 members of the Executive Board and the 20 members that comprise the World Heritage Committee, many of which overlap.
So objectionable were the resolutions, passed by a handful of countries, that one expert has said “those serious and responsible states … should disassociate from and leave UNESCO and withhold all membership dues”.
Further, some leaders of countries that were not part of the voting have spoken out. Notably, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, condemned the resolutions as “Highly politicised, unbalanced and provocative”.
These condemnations are important because, as a Boston Globe editorial states:
UNESCO’s tendentious semantics play into an ongoing propaganda campaign by the Palestinian Authority to “de-Judaize” the identity of Jerusalem, the foremost Jewish city on earth… Malicious distortions of history are not trivial. In the Middle East as elsewhere, such falsifications have triggered wars and incited bloodshed. So it is reassuring that the UNESCO resolution has been vigorously denounced, and not only by Israel.”Boston Globe
Shalom.Kiwi contacted New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, for comment. McCully has been outspoken about the lack of leadership in the UN – specifically impotence with regard to Syriaand perceived misuse of veto powers.
However, when it comes to showing his own leadership, McCully found himself unwilling to take a strong position, saying only that both sides need to preserve “each other’s legitimate historical and religious connections to the land” – as if the UNESCO resolutions were unfair to both the Palestinians, who drafted them, and to Israel.