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What’s next after the UNESCO resolution regarding Al-Aqsa?

October 18, 2016 at 2:25 pm

The draft resolution issued by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) denying a link between Judaism, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Buraq (“Wailing”) Wall was a harsh blow to one of the most important aspects of the fabricated historical narrative on which Zionist ideology was founded. This narrative was – and continues to be – used to justify the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the oppression of its people.

Hence, Israel’s angry and unbalanced reaction to the resolution was not a surprise, as the Zionist leaders realised that this resolution not only exposes the weakness of their narrative (and thus the strength of the Palestinian version), but also indirectly gives credibility to the Palestinian people’s resistance against the occupation. This is what drove Zionist spokespeople to claim that the UNESCO resolution is “encouraging terrorism”.

However, there is no doubt that the resolution also eliminates the legitimacy of the agreements reached between some of the Arab parties and Israel regarding Al-Aqsa Mosque. These agreements have acted as an Arab cover for the desecration of the Noble Sanctuary by illegal Jewish settlers, who announce explicitly their desire to destroy Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, and build a temple on what they call the “Temple Mount”.

The UNESCO resolution indicates the great latent energy in the measures that the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims should be taking in international forums. It is there that they can limit Israel and reduce its room to manoeuvre, exhausting its resources as much as possible. They need to work until they strip the Zionist state of international legitimacy and dismantle the international reality that allows Israel and its supporters to label others as “extremists and involved in terrorism” whenever anyone addresses their ongoing brutal military occupation and oppression of the Palestinians.

The fallout from challenging the “moral” and “historical” rationale upon which the Zionist movement relies, as a result of the UNESCO resolution, will be negligible compared to the damage that could be caused to Israel if only the Palestinian Authority and the Arab and Islamic world would take serious steps against illegal Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and Golan Heights. There is no one else in the world, other than Israel and its backers, who is willing to defend these settlements; even the US has expressed its opposition, albeit symbolic, to them. There is a need to take action against settlements in the UN, the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It is true that the US could use its veto to thwart any action against the settlements in the Security Council, but there are many options for utilising the ICC. The PA, with the support of the Arab and Muslim countries, could file a lawsuit against Israel, not least because international law already deems the occupation and settlement of land to be a war crime.

It is clear that such action would need to come from the PA and for it to be seen through to the end. However, all the indications are that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is procrastinating because he fears Israel’s reaction to such legal action. He is very sensitive about taking any steps that may anger the Israelis, in case Tel Aviv takes punitive action against him and his sons’ considerable financial investments.

As such, the only hope we have for changing the way that the Palestinians deal with Israel in the international arena is the approaching end of Abbas’s time as president; his period in office has damaged the Palestinian people and their rights. The top priority of the future Palestinian leadership must be to intensify international action against Israel; the payback from such efforts is almost always more than the benefits of armed resistance.

Measures taken against Israel may affect its nuclear capability, which it continues to develop with full immunity from accountability to the international community. The Arab and Muslim countries could address Israel’s nuclear weapons once again in meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The world cannot continue to defend the double standards applied to these weapons – which are neither inspected nor monitored by the IAEA (nor, in fact, are America’s nuclear facilities) – while insisting that, for example, Iran must abandon its nuclear programme.

In short, serious diplomatic efforts can achieve things which armed resistance cannot, especially with the Palestinians’ limited capabilities and finances. Exhausting Israel, restricting its ability to manoeuvre and harming its legitimacy is all possible if there is the political will on the part of the PA to challenge the Zionist government’s policies in the international arena.

How countries voted

Countries in support of the motion:

Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chad, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam

Those against:

Israel, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, the UK and the US


Albania, Argentina, Cameroon, Cote de’Ivoire, El Salvador, Spain, France, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, Uganda, Paraguay, South Korea, St. Kits and Nevis, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Togo, Trinidad and Ukraine

Absent countries:

Serbia and Turkmenistan

Nasim Ahmed: Highlighting Israeli violations of a world heritage site is not ‘inflammatory’, UNESCO, it’s a duty

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.