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Jordan triumphant in ‘diplomatic showdown’ over Jerusalem at UNESCO

By JT - Apr 13,2016 - Last updated at Apr 13,2016

AMMAN — UNESCO on Tuesday adopted the Jordanian-drafted resolution on Jerusalem, following a "diplomatic showdown” with some member states that pushed for toning down the language regarding the Israeli violations against Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif, a senior official said Wednesday.

In a statement carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani said that a Jordanian-worded paragraph on Jerusalem in the "Occupied Palestine Resolution" was adopted in Paris during the 199th meeting of UNESCO's executive board.

Momani said that Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh worked personally to drum up support for Jordan's proposed paragraph from his counterparts and through diplomatic channels.

Momani added that the resolution was drafted by Ministry of Foreign Affairs in coordination with the Jordanian permanent mission to UNESCO, Awqaf Ministry and all concerned sides, adding that Jordan and Palestine jointly submitted the resolution to UNESCO in coordination with Arab and Islamic member states. 

As per the resolution, Israel, the occupying power, is called to "allow for the restoration of the historic status quo, that prevailed until September 2000, under which the Jordanian Awqaf (Religious Foundation) Department exercised exclusive authority on Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif, and its mandate extended to all affairs relating to the unimpeded administration of Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif, including maintenance, restoration, and regulating access”.

Momani highlighted the fact that it was the first time the UNESCO body adopts the date September 2000 as the end of the “status quo”, as before that, the Jordanian awqaf authorities exercised exclusive powers in administering the shrine. 

Member states, as the resolution reads, “strongly condemn the Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their Holy Site Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif, and request Israel, the occupying power, to respect the historic status quo and to immediately stop these measures”.

In April 2015, UNESCO’s executive board adopted a resolution submitted by Jordan and Palestine that reaffirmed the definition of Al Aqsa Mosque as the entire sacred complex surrounding it and since then, the term used to refer to the Muslim shrine has been Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif.

The resolution, supported then by the Arab and Muslim group, enhanced gains made by Jordan over the past two years at UNESCO, including the naming of the site and considering Bab Al Magharbeh, the largest entrance for non-Muslim visitors to Al Aqsa Mosque complex, as an indivisible part of Al Aqsa, Islam’s third holiest shrine.

As a direct result of Jordan’s efforts, the Old City in Jerusalem and its walls has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1981 and on the World Heritage in Danger list since 1982.

The UNESCO body also called in the latest resolution for an immediate stop to all actions impeding 19 projects being implemented under the Hashemite rehabilitation projects of Al Aqsa Mosque.

 

Israel is also required to reopen Bab Al Rahma gate of the mosque, end acts disrupting reconstruction work at the site and take the necessary measures to ensure the implementation of the UNESCO-adopted Jordanian design for the reconstruction of the road to Bab Al Magharbeh.

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