UN official rejects Netanyahu invitation for seminar on Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA) – A UN official in the Middle East turned down an offer from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to host a seminar on the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.

The UN’s special Middle East envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, rejected the offer proffered more than two weeks after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization adopted a resolution that denies a Jewish connection to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.

“UN staff in Jerusalem know the history of the region, its people and religions all too well,” Mladenov told the French news agency AFP.

He added that such invitations should be issued to the Paris-based UNESCO and the ambassadors of the agency’s member-states based there.

Netanyahu posted Friday on Facebook: “Two weeks ago, I was shocked to hear that UNESCO adopted a decision denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site. It is hard to believe that anyone, let alone an organization tasked with preserving history, could deny this link which spans thousands of years.

“That is why today I am announcing a seminar on Jewish history for all UN personnel in Israel. I will personally host the lecture at the Prime Minister’s Office. The seminar will be given by a leading scholar of Jewish history and will be free to all UN staff and diplomats, including of countries which voted for this outrageous decision.”

Netanyahu also posted the invitation, which his spokesman told international media is a serious invitation for a seminar to take place next week, on Twitter.

Some 33 countries voted to approve the resolution, which refers to the Western Wall by its Arabic name, Al-Buraq Plaza, and refers to the Temple Mount only by its Arabic designations as the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif. Six countries voted against the resolution and 17 abstained. Four European Union countries and several with strong diplomatic relations with Israel approved the resolution.

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