(JNS.org) Pope Francis declared that God promised the Holy Land to the people of Israel in a speech at the Vatican in Rome Wednesday.
“The people of Israel, who from Egypt, where they were enslaved, walked through the desert for 40 years until they reached the land promised by God,” Pope Francis said, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Francis made the statement shortly before meeting with Israeli Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara, where he thanked him for his work on behalf of Christians in Israel.
The statement by the pontiff came just hours after UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee passed a resolution ignoring Jewish and Christian ties to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. The resolution, which was similar to a previous resolution passed Oct. 13 by the body’s Executive Committee, exclusively referred to the Temple Mount by its Muslim names.
While the Vatican has yet to make a formal statement on the UNESCO Jerusalem resolutions, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein wrote a letter to Cardinal Parolin saying the resolutions are “an assault on history and is deeply offensive to both Christianity and Judaism” urging the Vatican to “use its best offices to prevent the recurrence of developments of this sort.
After Wednesday’s passage of one such text, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein wrote a letter to Cardinal Parolin in which he stated that UNESCO’s denial of the Old City of Jerusalem’s history is an affront to both Christianity and Judaism.
The resolution, Edelstein wrote, “is an assault on history and is deeply offensive to both Christianity and Judaism. The denial of the historicity of the two Jerusalem Temples and the Temple Mount as recounted in both the Old and New Testaments is a terrible indictment of the international community when repeatedly adopted by an important UN body.
“The outrageous repudiation of the millennia-old bond between Judaism and its holiest shrines in Jerusalem is a blatant attempt to rewrite history,” he added. “The annals of both our religions cannot be erased by raised hands and counted votes.”
Edelstein said the time has come for the international community to pass a resolution reaffirming Jerusalem as the holy city for the three major monotheistic religions, “a city where the two Temples stood and from which the Word of God was first promulgated to humanity by our prophets.”