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UN official brushes aside invitation from Israel to lecture on Jewish history

A senior United Nations official today brushed aside an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a lecture on Jewish history, amid a row over a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.

Netanyahu said yesterday he would host the lecture in response to a recent resolution of the UN’s cultural body condemning Israeli “aggressions” against Muslims at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while failing to mention the site’s Jewish name Temple Mount.

The UNESCO executive board resolution, submitted by several Arab countries, was described by Netanyahu as “denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site”.

He said the lecture, to be delivered by a scholar in the coming weeks, would educate UN staff and diplomats about the site’s history.

The UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, bristled at the suggestion that UN staff in Jerusalem were insufficiently educated.

“If someone wants to issue invitations they should be for Paris and addressed to the ambassadors of the member-states of UNESCO there,” he said in a statement.

“UN staff in Jerusalem know the history of the region, its people and religions all too well.”

Netanyahu last month slammed the “absurd” resolution for ignoring Judaism’s connection to the Temple Mount, “where the two temples stood for a thousand years and to which every Jew in the world has prayed for thousands of years”.

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