God promised the Holy Land to the people of Israel, Pope Francis said during a public address at the Vatican in Rome on Wednesday in a speech about migration.
“The people of Israel, who from Egypt, where they were enslaved, walked through the desert for forty years until they reached the land promised by God,” he said.
Pope Francis spoke just before granting a brief audience to Israeli Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara to thank him for his efforts on behalf of the Church and Christians in Israel.
Kara told reporters he felt that the pontiff was sending a direct message to UNESCO, whose World Heritage Committee approved a resolution that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
When he spoke with Pope Francis he thanked him for his statement acknowledging Israel’s rights to the Holy Land. He added that there is no question that the resolution is harmful to Christians and the Scriptures because it “distorts historical and theological facts.”
The resolution, Knesset Speaker Yuli 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.”
If Arabs want to disavow the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Israel, they should take it one step further, she added: “If we were never here and Jesus was a Palestinian, then I suggest that UNESCO condemn the Palestinians for crucifying Jesus.”