French Leaders Backtrack on Support for UNESCO Resolution on Temple Mount

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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls attends a news conference to unveil new security measures ahead of a defence council at the Elysee Palace in Paris January 21, 2015Credit: Reuters

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday lamented his country's vote in favor of a controversial UNESCO resolution on the Temple Mount, saying its wording was "unfortunate and clumsy" and should have been "avoided," according to the L'Orient Le Jour website.

"The UNESCO resolution has unfortunate and clumsy formulations that offend and that should clearly have been avoided, " the Prime Minister told the National Assembly. He added that the resolution, which speaks of "occupied Palestine," "does not change anything in the policy of France" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

France voted in favor of the April 16 resolution passed by UNESCO, the Paris-based United Nations organization dealing with education, culture and heritage.

The resolution, which condemned Israel's actions in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, referred to the Temple Mount area solely as the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif, except for two references to the Western Wall Plaza that were put in parentheses.

Critics said it ignored Jewish historical ties to Jerusalem and its holy sites.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also criticized his country’s vote in favor of the resolution at an event organized by CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, in Paris on Monday.

Cazeneuve said that he does “not take a supportive view of the text” that France voted to approve, adding it “should not have been adopted” and that the resolution passed “was not written as it should have been,” according to Le Figaro newspaper.

Another critic of the French vote was Rabbi Haim Korsia, the chief rabbi of France, who said the resolution had ignored Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

In a statement issued in late April, Korsia expressed his “strong disapproval” of the  resolution, adding that French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, had told him France did not mean to downplay Judaism’s ties to Jerusalem with the vote.

Valls is due to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority within the next 10 days to promote the French peace plan for the Middle East.

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