(JTA) — The Trump and Clinton campaigns slammed a UNESCO resolution that upholds Muslim claims on holy sites in Jerusalem while mostly erasing Jewish claims, and Donald Trump said he would recognize the city as Israel’s capital.
“The United Nations’ attempt to disconnect the State of Israel from Jerusalem is a one-sided attempt to ignore Israel’s 3,000-year bond to its capital city, and is further evidence of the enormous anti-Israel bias of the U.N.,” said the statement released Thursday evening by Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, referring to the preliminary vote that day by the board of UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural and educational affiliate.
Laura Rosenberger, a senior foreign policy adviser to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, told JTA that “it’s outrageous that UNESCO would deny the deep, historic connection between Judaism and the Temple Mount.”
While the UNESCO resolution affirms “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions,” it refers to the Temple Mount several times only as Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif, the Islamic term for the Temple Mount, without mentioning its Jewish names in Hebrew or English. It also uses the term Buraq Plaza, placing “Western Wall Plaza” in quotes, appearing to erase a Jewish connection to the site, where the Jewish Temple stood until the middle of the first century C.E. and whose retaining walls are made of distinct stones associated with the Jewish king Herod.
U.S. lawmakers have slammed the vote across the political spectrum. Israel and American Jewish leaders also have ripped the vote.
Israel has cut off ties with UNESCO as long as the resolution, which may go to the full body, stands. The executive board on Thursday backed the Palestinian-backed resolution with 24 votes in favor and 6 against, with 26 countries abstaining.
Trump also said he would recognize Israel’s capital as Jerusalem.
“I have said on numerous occasions that in a Trump Administration, the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the one true capital of Israel,” he said.
Last December, Trump refused to commit to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital while speaking to a Republican Jewish Coalition forum, but changed his tune by the time he addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March.
“Jerusalem is the enduring capital of the Jewish people and the overwhelming majority of Congress has voted to recognize Jerusalem as just that,” Trump told the AIPAC assembly.
The Clinton campaign’s Israel page does not mention Jerusalem. While Congress has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, successive U.S. presidents, Republican and Democratic, have said its status should be left up to negotiations.
Rosenberger in her email cited Clinton’s record as secretary of state in President Barack Obama’s first term to uphold her pro-Israel credentials.
“As secretary of state, Hillary fought to defend Israel against biased resolutions like these at the United Nations and other international organizations and would proudly do so again as president,” she said.
Trump blamed the Obama administration for contributing to the erosion in Israel’s claim to the city. He referred to a corrected version of Obama’s eulogy at the funeral earlier this month of former Israeli President Shimon Peres. The original White House transcript was datelined “Jerusalem, Israel,” and the corrected version deleted “Israel,” conforming with U.S. policy.
“The decision by the Obama Administration to strike the word ‘Israel’ after the word ‘Jerusalem’ in the President’s prepared text was a capitulation to Israel’s enemies, and a posthumous embarrassment to Shimon Peres, whose memory the President was attempting to honor,” Trump’s statement said. “In a Trump Administration, Israel will have a true, loyal and lasting friend in the United States of America.”