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UNESCO to Israel: Hands off Old City of al-Quds

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Palestinian worshipers pray overnight in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of al-Quds (Jerusalem), July 2, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations (UN)’s cultural body has called on Israel to halt all its archaeological and restoration activities in the occupied Old City of al-Quds (Jerusalem).

UNESCO submitted a resolution to its World Heritage Committee to vote on next week, describing the Temple Mount as a “Muslim holy site of worship,” The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday.

Temple Mount, which has also been called al-Haram al-Sharif for centuries, refers to the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strongly condemned the resolution.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.

The occupied territories have been the scene of heightened tensions since August 2015, when Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem). The Palestinians say the Tel Aviv regime seeks to change the status quo of the holy Muslim site.

In a separate development, activist NGO Peace Now said that, over the past four years, Israel had advanced plans to legalize 14 West Bank outposts and had approved 20 such communities.

Israel occupied the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the Gaza Strip in 1967.

It later annexed the West Bank and East al-Quds in a move never recognized by the international community. Tel Aviv withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but has been keeping the territory under a crippling siege and regular deadly offensives.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

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