UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has rebuffed attempts by the U.N. cultural body to deny a historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
“In the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant,” Bokova said last week at the policy conference of the European Coalition for Israel, a grassroots Christian initiative.
“To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justifies its inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage List,” she added.
Bokova’s comments represent a sharp contrast to previous statements and resolutions issued by the U.N. agency. In October 2016, UNESCO passed two controversial resolutions condemning Israeli actions at Jerusalem’s holy sites as well as ignoring Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
Yet in a meeting last month with World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reaffirmed his recognition of Judaism’s historic ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Before March’s remarks, the U.N. chief had said on Israeli radio, “It is completely clear the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple.”