The world’s democracies must reassess their ties with UNESCO, the United Nation’s cultural organization, if it does not revisit the resolution it passed last week denying the Jewish and Christian historical connections to Jerusalem, Josh Block, President and CEO of The Israel Project, wrote in an op-ed Wednesday in The Hill.
The resolution “inflicted a wound upon millions of Jews, and many more millions of Christians” and “makes a mockery of the historical record and flies in the face of religious tolerance,” Block wrote. He noted that strong condemnations of the resolution have come from the White House, Congress, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova, and outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is scheduled to meet in Paris next week, and will have an opportunity to revisit the decision. Some countries have already done so: Mexico changed its vote from supporting the resolution to an abstention, and Brazil may soon do the same. Poland and South Korea, countries with large Christian populations, sit on the committee and may reconsider the consequences of the resolution to their citizens.
Israel’s Shin Bet security service and police forces thwarted a terror attack targeting a wedding hall, The Times of Israel reported on Thursday. A group of four Palestinians was plotting to carry out the attack and also kidnap an Israeli soldier for use as a future bargaining chip. Details permitted for publication on Thursday did not specify the type of attack.
Mahmoud Yusef Hassin Abu Taha allegedly led the cell, and told Shin Bet officials that he was the head of a terror group directed by the Islamic Jihad group in Gaza. Iran funds most of Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s budget, according to the U.S. State Department. Taha was responsible for assembling the three additional would-be attackers—two of whom were residing in Israel illegally. The group also included Hani M’suad Nasir Abu Amrah, 40, a Gazan who now lives in the south of Israel after being granted Israeli citizenship under the family reunification program.
“The case once again stresses the manner in which terror groups take advantage of the permits to enter Israel, which are given for humanitarian and economic reasons. And also the risk posed to the presence in Israel of Palestinians who don’t have a permit to be there,” the Shin Bet statement said.Terror groups have previously used kidnapped IDF soldiers or the remains of soldiers to bargain for the release of Palestinian prisoners. Once released, many prisoners revert back to terrorism—nearly half of the 13,000 terrorists Israel has released since 1985 have returned to the battlefield. There is even a special unit within Hamas consisting entirely of released prisoners—it is responsible for carrying out deadly attacks against civilians.
Iran has increased its delivery of weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, U.S., Western, and Iranian officials told Reuters Thursday. The weapons are smuggled overland into Yemen over the Omani border, according to the report, although the Omani government has denied this charge. A U.S. official said, “What they’re bringing in via Oman are anti-ship missiles, explosives… money and personnel.” An Iranian diplomat confirmed that his government has upped its support for the Houthis, saying, “The nuclear deal gave Iran an upper hand in its rivalry with Saudi Arabia, but it needs to be preserved.” Critics of the Iran nuclear deal, including the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia, had expressed their concern that it would give Iran more leeway to support its destabilizing proxies throughout the region, including the Houthis and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
The Houthis may have fired missiles at U.S. Navy vessels operating off the coast of Yemen over this past weekend, according to American defense officials. The Pentagon declined on Monday, however, to say whether or not missiles had definitively been fired.
Last Wednesday, U.S. Navy vessels destroyed three Houthi-controlled radar sites with missile strikes authorized by President Barack Obama. The strikes came just two days after the Houthis fired two missiles at the USS Mason. The day after the American strike, Iran dispatched two warships to the Gulf of Aden.
The Houthis seized control of the Yemeni government in 2015, prompting a military intervention by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries. The Iranian proxy, whose slogan reads in Arabic “God is great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam,” have received arms—including missiles—and training from Iran. American, French, and Australian vessels have intercepted weapons shipments from Iran on their way to the Houthi rebels. After the capture of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in 2014, Iranian parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani, who is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, boasted that Iran now controlled four Arab capitals, the other three being Damascus, Baghdad, and Beirut.
Secretary of State John Kerry has previously expressed his concern about Iranian missiles being delivered to the Houthis, and then being fired over the border into Saudi territory.
Just days after the UN’s cultural agency voted in favor of a resolution denying Jerusalem’s Jewish history, archaeologists have discovered the site where the Romans breached Jerusalem’s walls in the prelude to the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple nearly 2,000 years ago, confirming those ties, The Times of Israe lreported Thursday.
The site, just outside of Jerusalem’s Old City, was discovered last winter. According to Israel’s Antiquities Authority, which confirmed the findings earlier this week, archaeologists found “remains of a tower surrounded by scores of stones and boulders fired by Roman catapults at the Jewish forces guarding the wall,” matching the description by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus of the wall breached by the Romans.
The discovery of the battle site settles a longstanding debate among archaeologists as to how far the walls of Jerusalem extended prior to Titus’ attack on Jerusalem.
The official Palestinian position—as expressed in the Palestinian National Charter posted on the website of the Palestinian Authority’s United Nations delegation—is that “the claims of historic and spiritual ties between Jews and Palestine are not in agreement with the facts of history or with the true basis of sound statehood.” At the Camp David summit in 2000, then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat unsettled President Bill Clinton by denying that there had ever been a Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, has repeatedly lashed out against suggestions that Jews have links to Jerusalem, which is mentioned by name over 600 times in the Jewish Bible.
Palestinian attempts to erase or cast doubt on the well-established historical connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish faith, which The New York Times noted last year, is a phenomenon that former Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold has described as “Temple denial.” Days after the Times report, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who was appointed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed that the Temple Mount has been the site of a mosque “since the creation of the world” and that it never housed a Jewish temple, despite ample evidence to the contrary.