The Palestinian Authority with the backing of six Arab countries plans to present a proposal to the United Nations cultural agency declaring the Western Wall – which once served as a retaining wall for the Jews’ ancient Second Temple – as an integral part of the Al-Aqsa mosque, a leading Israeli diplomat confirmed to Israel's Ynet news.
Ynet reported Friday that as part of its proposal Palestinians will ask UNESCO to rename the Western Wall the “Buraq Plaza”:
A new proposal to establish that the Western Wall is part of al-Aqsa Mosque is set to be submitted by the Palestinians to a vote at UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) next week, Ynet learned Thursday. […]
Since the Palestinians are not members of the committee, the six Arab states submitted the proposal on behalf of the Palestinians: Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. However, senior Israeli sources say that the Palestinians are simultaneously acting to move the proposal to the UNESCO plenum, in which they are recognized as a state.
Though Israeli diplomats said they were working to get the proposal quashed, given the abundance of Muslim and Arab countries at the U.N., Ynet assessed that it would likely pass.
Acknowledging the deep Jewish historical connection to the site, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio wore a yarmulke and bowed his head at a visit to the Western Wall Sunday. The mayor was on a solidarity visit to Israel following weeks of Palestinian stabbing attacks.
New York City's mayor, Bill de Blasio, touches the stones of the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's Old City, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. New York City's mayor, Bill de Blasio, on Saturday kicked off a brief visit to Israel that he has described as a solidarity mission at a difficult time. De Blasio is in the country after weeks of Israel-Palestinian violence. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday condemned what he described as false Palestinian claims that Israel seeks to change current visiting and prayer regulations on the Temple Mount known as the “status quo.”
While he did not address the UNESCO proposal to Islamize the Western Wall, Netanyahu noted at his weekly cabinet meeting Sunday that Islamist militants “blast each other’s mosques to the sky” and that Palestinians this weekend torched Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.
“Israel is not the problem on the Temple Mount. Israel is the solution,” Netanyahu said.
Casting its religious net even wider, the Palestinian U.N. proposal also sought to declare Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem as officially part of Palestine, Ynet reported.
According to Jewish tradition, the major biblical patriarchs including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – along with their wives – are buried at the Hebron site. The Bible in Genesis describes Rachel being buried in Bethlehem.
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism and, after Mecca and Medina, the third holiest site to Muslims.
The Palestinian Authority regularly negates any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, while groups of predominantly Muslim women daily harass Jewish and Christian visitors to the site.
President Mahmoud Abbas last month accused Jews of contaminating Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem with their “filthy feet.”
“They have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so, and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem,” Abbas said.
Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama Hacohen accused the Palestinians of adding “fuel to the fire of incitement” with the latest holy sites proposal.
"The Jewish people and the Western Wall are one, and the chances of the Palestinians to Islamize the Western Wall are the same as the chances of Islamizing the Jewish people,” the ambassador said.
"Even the morning after the vote the Israeli flag will fly over the wall," he added.