Congress is pushing back against a United Nations body that moved this week to designate Judaism's holiest site in Jerusalem as only having connections to Islam, according to new communication by Congress to the U.N.'s secretary general-elect.
The U.N.'s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, moved forward with a resolution backed by a delegation of Arab nations that would effectively strip Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the most holy place in Jewish tradition, of any connection to the Jewish people.
The Temple Mount is currently home to several holy mosques, but is also considered of particular importance to the Jewish people. The area contains the Western Wall, or Kotel, one of the last remaining pieces of Judaism's ancient temple site.
The decision by UNESCO to dub Israel an occupying force and limit the country's connection to the site drew immediate outrage from the Israeli government and pro-Israel groups in America. Hamas, a terror organization committed to Israel's destruction, praised the decision in a statement, calling it a "step in the right direction."
The move by UNESCO prompted Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), a leading pro-Israel voice in Congress, on Friday to petition the U.N.'s recently elected secretary general, Antonio Guterres, to take immediate action to block UNESCO's decision.
"Yesterday’s actions are only the most recent display of long-running bias against the Jewish state by the organization you will soon lead," Roskam wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. "Since its founding in 2006, the U.N. Human Rights Council has adopted 135 resolutions targeting specific countries. Sixty-eight of these have been directed against Israel, comprising more that 50% of the body’s work. In the past four years, the U.N. General Assembly has adopted 97 resolutions chastising specific nations. Eighty-three of these have targeted Israel, over 85% percent of the total."
"And each year, UNESCO adopts roughly 10 resolutions criticizing only Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East," Roskam added.
The lawmaker questioned the U.N.'s priorities at a time when Islamic terror organizations are marching freely through the Middle East with the goal of destroying Western forces and Israel.
"At this very moment, the Islamic Republic of Iran is jailing journalists and executing dissidents; ISIS is committing genocide against religious minorities throughout the Middle East; and Russian, Iranian, and Syrian forces are massacring civilians in Aleppo," Roskam wrote. "The U.N. must cease its assault on Israel, the only genuinely free nation in the region, and focus on the pressing issues facing the international community."
"Tragically, the U.N. and its affiliates have become the leading platform to proliferate an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic agenda which solely focuses on demonizing and delegitimizing the State of Israel," the lawmaker states in the letter. "I hope, under your leadership, the organization’s active hostility towards the Jewish state will end. I am committed to working with you to achieve this goal."
The Israeli government has frozen its relationship with UNESCO in the wake of the resolution on the Temple Mount.