ITALY PLEDGES TO AFFIRM JEWISH TIES TO TEMPLE MOUNT AT UNESCO

 

Italy on Wednesday renewed its pledge to Israel to oppose any resolutions at UNESCO that ignore Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Visiting Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano delivered that message when he met Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Last fall, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promised Netanyahu that his country would take a stand against the Palestinian drive at UNESCO to refer to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of al-Haram al-Sharif.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu pointed out to Alfano “the absurdity of the recent UNESCO decision and asked Italy to oppose the next vote at the organization.”

“The Palestinians must stop the incitement against Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Italy is a member of UNESCO’s 58-member executive board, which meets twice a year. In 2016, the board passed a resolution on Jerusalem at both sessions that did not use the phrase “Temple Mount” to refer to Judaism’s holiest religious site. Italy abstained in both the spring and fall votes.

The executive board is next scheduled to meet in Paris from April 19 to May 4. It’s presumed that the Palestinian Authority will submit anti-Israel resolutions to the UNESCO board, including one on Jerusalem that refers to the Temple Mount solely as al-Haram al-Sharif. For Muslims, the top of the Temple Mount, with its golden-domed mosque, is the third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina.

The provisional agenda for that meeting will be published on March 23, but the actual text of the resolutions can be submitted up to 48 hours before the agenda item is due to be discussed.

Separately, Netanyahu and Alfano spoke about ways to increase bilateral cooperation between Israel and Italy, particularly in Africa, where both governments are helping countries find solutions to issues relating to water and agriculture.

During their meeting, Alfano also “emphasized his obligation to defend the Italian Jewish community against incidents of antisemitism,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

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