ban-ki-moon

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has distanced himself from UNESCO’s Arab-drafted resolution which disregards Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and Western Wall, as did UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova.

Following is the statement read out by Mr. Ban’s spokesman at the UN daily news briefing on Friday, October 14th:

[T]he Secretary‑General reaffirms the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions and stresses the importance of the religious and historical link of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian peoples to the holy site.  The Al Aqsa Mosque/Al‑Haram al‑Sharif, the sacred shrine of Muslims, is also the Har HaBayit — or Temple Mount — whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism, a few steps away from the Saint Sepulchre church and the Mount of Olives, which is revered by Christians.  The Secretary‑General reiterates that any perceived undertaking to repudiate the undeniable common reverence for these sites does not serve the interests of peace and will only feed violence and radicalism.  He also calls on all sides to uphold the status quo in relation to the holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Full UN transcript here, quote in context is below.

___________

14 OCTOBER 2016
Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Question:  Yeah, I don’t know if you are aware that UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] executive board adopted a decision saying that East Jerusalem is part of the Islamic heritage only, and there was a protest by Israel.  Israel decided to suspend its relations with UNESCO.  Any comment on that?

Spokesman:  Well, you know, obviously, I think you’d have to ask UNESCO exactly what the situation is concerning their relations between Israel and UNESCO, which is a specialized agency.  From our point of view, from the Secretary‑General’s point of view, we are obviously aware of the vote that was taken in UNESCO.  And for his part, the Secretary‑General reaffirms the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions and stresses the importance of the religious and historical link of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian peoples to the holy site.  The Al Aqsa Mosque/Al‑Haram al‑Sharif, the sacred shrine of Muslims, is also the Har HaBayit — or Temple Mount — whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism, a few steps away from the Saint Sepulchre church and the Mount of Olives, which is revered by Christians.  The Secretary‑General reiterates that any perceived undertaking to repudiate the undeniable common reverence for these sites does not serve the interests of peace and will only feed violence and radicalism.  He also calls on all sides to uphold the status quo in relation to the holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  I wanted to ask… this is something I had hoped to ask Mr… do you have a follow‑up?  Go ahead.

Question:  That means this statement is almost taking a different side from the Security Council resolutions.  Secretary‑General is by… by the mere fact that he heads this Organization, he’s supposed to follow strictly resolution 476 and 478 and resolution 271, which Israel has no right to change the demographic, geographic or cultural nature of East Jerusalem.  Is then…

Spokesman:  I think we may be talking past each other on different levels.  The Secretary‑General has always reaffirmed the need for respect to Security Council resolutions, the relevant ones you just mentioned.  What happened at… what I’ve just read out to you was a reaction to what happened at UNESCO, which I think puts in questions the point that the Secretary‑General is making, which… that the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls have an undeniable link to three religions:  Christian, Jewish, Muslim.  It includes holy sites that are revered by the followers of these three religions.  Anything that is perceived as an undertaking to repudiate that fact does not serve the cause of peace.  Mr. Lee?

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