The Palestinian Authority yesterday praised a controversial UNESCO vote that saw the adoption of a draft resolution that sharply criticised Israeli policies around Al-Aqsa Mosque whilst also rejecting any Jewish links to the holy site.
The resolution also condemned Israeli policies at the Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied Hebron and the Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque/Rachel's Tomb in occupied Bethlehem while urging an end to the near decade-long Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.
In a statement, the PA said the decision to adopt the UNESCO resolution reflected the "continued commitment of the majority of member states to confront impunity and uphold the principles upon which UNESCO was founded."
The PA said it was disappointed that some states had altered their vote after what it called Israel's "PR bulling".
"Rather than spending millions to spin its illegal colonisation into normalcy and distort reality, Israel, the occupying power, must understand that the only way to be treated like a normal state is if it starts acting like one, by ending its occupation of Palestine and seizing its irresponsible and illegal actions in the occupied land of the State of Palestine, especially East Jerusalem," the statement read.
The statement added that Palestinian activities at the UN and on the international level would not be "deterred by distortions and smear campaigns," and would continue pressuring the international community to take responsibility and act on Israel's violations of international law "which have continued with impunity for half a century".
In a statement released yesterday, the spokesperson for the Palestinian Presidency, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said he hoped the UNESCO resolution would highlight that the US should "revise its mistaken policies of encouraging the continued occupation of Palestinian lands," while showing Israel the importance of ending its occupation of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, and to end its policies that "contribute to increasing tensions".
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the decision, calling it "delusional" and adding that "to say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids."
"With this absurd decision, UNESCO has lost the modicum of legitimacy it had left."
Israeli Education Minister Nafatali Bennett has suspended operations with UNESCO following the vote.