A resolution that challenges Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem will be submitted by Arab countries to UNESCO during the next executive board meeting in Paris in time for a vote in 1 May. It questions Israeli claims to a number of religious sites in Jerusalem.
"Any actions taken by Israel, the Occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration on the City of Jerusalem," states the resolution, "are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever."
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The Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa — known to Jews as the Temple Mount — has been the focus of several previous UNESCO resolutions that have attracted controversy by denying any Jewish connections to the site. The UN body had previously produced a resolution that refused to accept Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem, including the Old City, but this text, viewed by a number of Israeli sources, marks the first time that the Arab states have asked a UNESCO board to reject Israeli sovereignty over west Jerusalem.
The resolution was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan on behalf of the Palestinians. It was drafted just as US President Donald Trump is weighing the question of relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the UN has come under extreme pressure from America and its ally Israel. The latter has cut its payment to the UN by $2 million over what it describes as "anti-Israel bias" in the international body.
The 1 May text also reaffirms that the holy sites of the Ibrahimi Mosque ("Tomb of the Patriarchs") in Hebron, and Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque ("Rachel's Tomb") in Bethlehem are "an integral part of Palestine."