Current Affairs 17th October 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Eminent writer C Radhakrishnan has been selected for the Mathrubhumi Literary Award in recognition of his contribution to the field of literature.  The award carries a cash prize of Rs two lakh, a citation and a statuette. Recipient of several honours, including the Literary Academy of India, Kerala Literary Academy, Radhakrishnan has proved his mettle in various capacities as novelist, short story writer, cine director, teacher and media personnel.  He was born in Chamravattom in Ponnani taluk in Malappuram district on February 15, 1939. Many of his works had garnered much attention at the publishing stage itself.

A historic global climate deal was reached in Kigali, Rwanda at the Twenty-Eighth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MOP28). The so called Kigali Amendment which amends the 1987 Montreal Protocol aims to phase out Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a family of potent greenhouse gases by the late 2040s. Under Kigali Amendment, in all 197 countries, including India have agreed to a timeline to reduce the use of HFCs by roughly 85% of their baselines by 2045. Significance of the Kigali Amendment :  The Kigali Amendment amends the 1987 Montreal Protocol that was designed to close growing ozone hole in by banning ozone-depleting coolants like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Thus, amended Montreal Protocol which was initially conceived only to plug gases that were destroying the ozone layer now includes HFCs responsible for global warming. This move will help to prevent a potential 0.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature by the end of the century. The Kigali Agreement or amended Montreal Protocol for HFCs reduction will be binding on countries from 2019. It also has provisions for penalties for non-compliance. Under it, developed countries will also provide enhanced funding support estimated at billions of dollars globally. The exact amount of additional funding from developed countries will be agreed at the next Meeting of the Parties in Montreal in 2017. Different timelines under Kigali Amendment  :  All signatory countries have been divided into three groups with different timelines to go about reductions of HFCs. First group: It includes richest countries like US and those in European Union (EU). They will freeze production and consumption of HFCs by 2018. They will reduce them to about 15% of 2012 levels by 2036.  Second group: It includes countries like China, Brazil and all of Africa etc. They will freeze HFC use by 2024 and cut it to 20% of 2021 levels by 2045.  Third group: It includes countries India, Pakistan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. They will be freezing HFC use by 2028 and reducing it to about 15% of 2025 levels by 2047.  

The Japanese Encephalitis has claimed 54 lives in Odisha’s backward Malkangiri district in just a more than a month. The State Government is monitoring and overseeing the measures to check the spread of Japanese Encephalitis. Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus. It belongs to the same genus as dengue, yellow fever and West Nile viruses. The first case of JE was documented in 1871 in Japan. JE primarily affects children. Most adults in endemic countries have natural immunity after childhood infection, but individuals of any age may be affected. It is transmitted by rice field breeding mosquitoes (primarily Culex tritaeniorhynchus group). The mosquitoes transmit JE by feeding on domestic pigs and wild birds infected with the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV). It is not transmitted from person-to-person. Major JE outbreaks occur every 2-15 years. JE transmission mainly intensifies during the rainy season, during which vector populations increase. Most JE infections are mild (fever and headache) or without apparent symptoms, but it may result in severe clinical illness. Severe infection is marked by quick onset, headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, stupor, occasional convulsions (especially in infants) etc. There is no specific therapy. Intensive supportive therapy is indicated.

China has successfully launched longest-ever manned mission by taking two astronauts Jing Haipeng (50) and Chen Dong (37) into the orbit. They were launched on board of Shenzhou-11 (heavenly vessel) spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre near the Gobi Desert in northwest China. The spacecraft was put into orbit by a Long March-2F carrier rocket. Both astronauts will spend a month aboard an experimental space laboratory Tiangong-2 (Heavenly Palace 2). During the mission, they will conduct aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance with human participation. They will also undertake ultrasound tests during space travel for the first time, cultivate plants in space etc. It will be first time that Chinese astronauts will stay in orbit for medium term. Earlier in 2013, three Chinese astronauts in a manned space mission had spent 15 days in orbit and were docked with a space laboratory Tiangong 1. Tiangong-2 was launched in September 2016 as part of China’s efforts to set up its own permanent manned space station by 2022.  By launching longest-ever manned space mission, China has moved a step closer to establish its permanent space station. After completion, it will make China, only the country to have space station facility is space as the current in-service International Space Station (ISS) retires by 2024.  

At least 25 people including 14 women were killed and various were injured in a stampede near Rajghat bridge on the border of Varanasi and Chandauli districts on 15 October 2016. The incident took place at around 1.30 pm at the Rajghat bridge in the Ramnagar area of Varanasi when the followers of Jai Gurudev were taking out a huge procession at an event to create awareness about vegetarianism and prohibition. Nearly 1 lakh people were present in the procession. The stampede occurred due to the spreading of rumours that the bridge was collapsing. The injured were taken to the Lal Bahadur Shastri Government Hospital in Ramnagar and Multi-Speciality Trauma Centre of Banaras Hindu University (BHU). PM Narendra Modi announced compensation of 2 lakh rupees and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced compensation of 5 lakh rupees for the families of the dead. Rajghat Bridge : The Rajghat Bridge is also known as Malviya Bridge. It is a double-deck bridge over the Ganga, connecting Varanasi and Chandauli districts.  The bridge has a rail track on the lower deck and a road on the upper deck. The Grand Trunk Road passes through this bridge.

Indian boxer Neeraj Goyat retained his welterweight Asia title. In the final bout played in New Delhi on 14 October 2016, Goyat outpunched Australian Ben Kite 120-110, 119-109, 115-113. The fight was organised by the Professional Boxing Organisation of India. The 24-year-old prevailed via unanimous decision in the gruelling 12-round contest against his 26-year-old rival, who came in with an experience of fighting 9 bouts. With this win, Neeraj has become the first Indian boxer to defend a pro title. Neeraj is also all set to break into the WBC's world rankings which would be updated in three weeks' time. Winners in undercard bouts that was four-round contests include : Super Featherweight Division (59kg): Former Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Amandeep Singh won the title by defeating former Federation Cup champion Sunil Sharma. Cruiserweight (91kg) category: Geetanand Singh won the title by defeating Multiple-time national champion Kuldeep Singh. Super welterweight (70kg) category: Deepak Tanwar won the title by defeating Dilbag Thakran.

The eighth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit was held from 15 to 16 October 2016 in Benaulim city of Goa, India. It was held under the theme Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions. The summit was attended by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma. At the end of the summit, Goa Declaration was released by the leaders saying it is the responsibility of all states to prevent terrorist actions from their territories. In the 109 point Declaration, the leaders called upon all nations to adopt a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism. They condemned the recent attacks against some BRICS countries, including the Uri terror attack in India. Highlights  : The leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and stressed that there can be no justification for such acts.They acknowledged that international terrorism, especially the Islamic State, constitute an unprecedented threat to international peace and security. All five nations reaffirmed the commitment to increase effectiveness of the UN counter terrorism framework. The Goa Declaration called for the need for reforms of the UN, including its Security Council, to increase representation of developing countries. They also highlighted the importance of public and private investments in infrastructure, including connectivity. Apart from this, the leaders of BRICS nations appreciated the progress in the implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership and emphasise the importance of the BRICS Roadmap for Trade, Economic and Investment Cooperation until 2020. BRICS leaders welcomed the signing of the MoU between the BRICS countries National Development Banks and the New Development Bank. The BRICS Grouping also welcomed the adoption of the landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals. Saying that the global economic recovery is progressing, they noted that the growth is weaker than expected with downside risks to the global economy continuing to persist. They reiterated determination to use all policy tools to achieve the goal of sustainable and inclusive growth.

World Food Day 2016 was observed across the world on 16 October 2016 with the themeClimate is changing. Food and agriculture must too. Growing food in a sustainable way means adopting practices that produce more with less in the same area of land. It also means reducing food losses before the retail stage through a number of initiatives including better harvesting, storage, packing, transport, infrastructure and market mechanisms. Like every year, this year as well a large number of events from marathons to exhibitions, cultural performances, contests and concerts were organised in around 150 countries across the world to celebrate World Food Day. World Food Day (WFD) : World Food Day is celebrated every year on 16 October globally in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945.  The Day was established by FAO's Member Countries at the 20th General Conference of FAO in November 1945.  Since then, it is being observed every year in more than 150 countries, raising awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.    World Food Day was first celebrated on 16 October 1981.  

Valvoline Cummins India has signed up India Test captain Virat Kohli as its ambassador.  As part of the association, Kohli will be the face of Valvoline engine oils and lubricants range.  Valvoline Inc. has created the first motor oil and was awarded a design patent for petroleum, distilling and refining equipment in 1866 at USA. Since then with our offices, affiliates and distributors in every corner of the globe, you're never far from a complete line of unbeatable Valvoline products.

A recent report carried out by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ‘Safety and Security,’ has revealed that the Finland is the safest place in the world with Qatar and UAE ranked second and third respectively. Further down the list was the UK, which was ranked at 63, while the US was in 73 place. At the bottom of the survey ranked Nigeria, followed by Colombia, Yemen, Pakistan and Venezuela, as the least safest countries to live. India ranked 13th as the least safe countries in the world.

India's ODI against New Zealand at Dharamshala on 16th oct 2016 is the team's 900th making it the world first side to achieve a milestone.  900th One Day International (ODI) match between India and  New Zealand was held at the HPCA stadium in Dharamshala. Out of the 899 ODI's, India has won 454, lost 399 tied seven, while 39 have abandoned. India played its first ever ODI in 1974 against England at Leeds which ended in a victory for the hosts. The match was part of a series that would be famously known as the ‘Summer of  42,’ based on the number of runs India managed to score in the second of a three match Test series preceding the ODIs.  India have won two World Cups in 1983 and 2011 and have topped the ICC ODI Rankings multiple times. India won both the matches comfortably and became the number one team in the ICC Test rankings. The hosts then completed a series whitewash on New Zealand by winning the third Test at Indore.

According to the data released by the RBI ,India’ banking system reported total deposits of Rs 100 lakh crore for the first time ever in September month of this year.  With demand deposits crossing Rs10 lakh crore and time deposits crossing the Rs 90 lakh crore mark, the month saw the highest-ever monthly rise of Rs 5.32 lakh crore  more than the total deposits in the banking sector 20 years back.  Banks’ deposits grew at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 12.88% in the last five years, they had grown at a CAGR of 19.9% in the previous five years.

The second edition of Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (RSM)-2016 was inaugurated by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts in New Delhi.  The 10-day event aims to showcase the rich cultural heritage of India in all its rich and varied dimensions. RSM 2016 will showcase Handicrafts, Painting, Cuisine, Photography, Sculpture, Documentation and Performing Arts-Folk, Tribal, Classical and Contemporary in one place. Nearly 2,000 artists from across the country will showcase India’s cultural heritage through performances, arts during the cultural extravaganza.  It is one of the five such festivals planned in this financial year in different parts of India including Bangalore, Varanasi and Jammu and Kashmir. Under this cultural event, seven zonal cultural centres have been given slots to present their arts during the festival. It will showcase an amalgamation of ‘Ek Bharat, Srestha Bharat’, ‘Hamaari Sanskriti, Hamaari Pahchaan’ and ‘Swachh India’.

Union Government has launched Mining Surveillance System (MSS), a pan-India surveillance network to check illegal mining using latest satellite technology.  MSS is a satellite-based monitoring system which aims to check illegal mining activity through automatic remote-sensing detection technology in order to establish a regime of responsive mineral administration. Mining Surveillance System (MSS). Developed by Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) in coordination with Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG), Gandhinagar. One of the first such surveillance systems developed in the world using space technology. It has been developed under the Digital India Programme. There are in total 3843 mining leases of major minerals across India, out of which 1710 are working mines and 2133 are non-working mines. Presently, there is absence of robust mechanism of monitoring of illegal mining activity.  Current system of monitoring is completely based on local complaints and unconfirmed information which is not transparent and quicker response and action. MSS working Process :  In the MSS, Khasra maps of mining leases have been geo-referenced and are superimposed on latest satellite remote sensing scenes obtained from CARTOSAT & USGS. It has capacity to check any unusual activity such illegal mining at a region of 500 meters around the existing mining lease boundary. It has been incorporated with automatic software which leverages image processing technology to generate automatic triggers of unauthorized activities. These automatic triggers will be studied at a Remote Sensing Control Centre of IBM and then transmitted to the district level mining officials for field verification.  Besides, a user-friendly mobile app also has been created for these officials to submit compliance reports of their inspections. The mobile app aims to establish a participative monitoring system in which the citizens also can use this app and report unusual mining activity. MSS also has an executive dashboard to work as a decision support system. Using it officials at all levels can track the current status of mapping of the mining leases, status of inspections and penalty levied etc. for all major mineral mining leases across the country. Advantages of remote sensing technology based monitoring system :  Transparent as public will be provided an access to the system. Deterrence Effect as continues monitoring will be from space. Bias-free and Independent as the system is based on technology evidences and has no human interference. Quicker Response and Action as the mining areas will be monitored regularly and the sensitive areas will be monitored more frequently. Effective Follow-up as action will be taken on triggers that will be followed-up and monitored at various levels

Russian consortium led energy giant Rosneft Oil Company has agreed to acquire India’s second biggest private oil firm Essar Oil in an all-cash deal valued at about US $13 billion.  The consortium includes Rosneft Oil Company, Netherlands-based commodities trader Trafigura and private investment group United Capital Partners. The business transaction was announced in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 8th BRICS Summit in Goa. Rosneft bought a 49% stake in Essar Oil’s refinery, port and petrol pumps, while Trafigura Group Pte and United Capital Partners split 49% equity equally. It includes $10.9 billion for Essar Oil’s Vadinar refinery (India’s second-largest refinery with a capacity of 20 million tonnes) and $2 billion for a port terminal that helps feed refinery. It also includes Essar Oil’s debt of $4.5 billion and about $2 billion debt with the Port Company and power plant. This acquisition is the largest ever foreign acquisition in India and also is the single largest foreign investment in the Indian refining sector  It is Russia’s largest outbound or foreign acquisition deal. It significant milestone for Rosneft as it is entering India, one of the most promising and fast-growing world markets. With this, Rosneft becomes third international player after Royal Dutch and Shell and British Petroleum to enter Indian fuel retailing market. It also proves the attractiveness of the Indian energy market to foreign investors as India is one of the fastest growing fuel consuming economies in the world Essar Group  : Essar Group is an Indian conglomerate led by Shashi Ruia and Ravi Ruia. It controls number of world-class assets diversified across the core sectors of Energy, Metals & Mining, Infrastructure and Services. It also occupies a strategic position in the global oil market and owns world-class refining and infrastructure assets.

The K.S. Valdiya committee in its report submitted to the Union Water Resources Ministry has concluded that Saraswati River so far considered mythical, existed. The committee comprising of geologists, archaeologists and hydrologists say that they have found evidence of the course of the river Saraswati. Earlier, River Saraswati was considered as a mythological river and has been mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures like the Rig Veda, Ramayana, Mahabharata and others giving credence that it existed during those times. Saraswati River originated in the Himalayas. It was approximately 4,000 km in length and flowed through India and Pakistan before meeting Arabian Sea through Rann of Kutch. Two-third stretch of river measuring nearly 3000 km in length fell in India and reaming one-third of the river stretch fell in present-day Pakistan. Eastern Branch : Palaeochannels (remnants of defunct rivers) Sarsuti-Markanda rivulets in Haryana were courses of  eastern branch of river, known as Tons-Yamuna. The confluence of the branches was near Shatrana, 25 km south of Patiala. From this confluence point river flow crossed dessert (Rann of Kutch) and meet gulf of western sea.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was observed on 17 October 2016 with theme Moving from humiliation and exclusion to participation: Ending poverty in all its forms. 2016 theme of the day highlights how important it is to recognize and address the humiliation and exclusion endured by many people living in poverty. Apart from this, fighting poverty remains at the core of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the development of the post-2015 development agenda. Global Hunger Index 2016 released: India ranked at 97th position The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to end poverty in all its forms everywhere explicitly recognizes that poverty results not from the lack of just one thing but from many different interrelated factors that affect the lives of people living in poverty. This means we must go beyond seeing poverty merely as the lack of income or what is necessary for material well-being — such as food, housing, land, and other assets – in order to fully understand poverty in its multiple dimensions. The United Nations recognised the day on 22 December 1992 by adopting a resolution and declared 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. On the day, it also invited all States to devote the Day to presenting and promoting, as appropriate in the national context, concrete activities with regard to the eradication of poverty and destitution However, the first commemoration of the event took place in Paris France in 1987, when about one lakh people gathered on the Human Rights and Liberties Plaza at the Trocadero to honour victims of poverty, hunger, violence and fear. This call was made by Joseph Wresinski, the founder of the International Movement ATD Fourth World.

Indian shuttler Sourabh Verma has clinched the men's singles title at the Chinese Taipei Open badminton. In the summit clash of the 55000 dollar Grand Prix tournament in Taipei City, Saurabh defeated Malaysia's Daren Liew, 12-10, 12-10, 3-3. World No. 82 Verma rallied to grab the first two games 12-10 and 12-10 and emerged victorious after his opponent World No. 106 Liew retired at 3-3 owing to a problematic shoulder. Verma, aged 23, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, was on a comeback trail after spending almost a year on the sidelines due to elbow and knee injuries in 2015. His previous international title came in 2014 after defeating Taiwan's Hsu Jen-hao at the Austrian International Challenge 2014. Verma and Liew had previously clashed twice, having a head-to-head tally of 1-1. They last met at the Li Ning China Masters in 2012 where Verma had defeated the Malaysian in the first round.

India and Russia has signed 16 agreements during India-Russia Annual Summit across multiple sectors on 15 October 2016.  The MoUs were signed in Goa during India-Russia Annual Summit co-chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. President Putin is on a visit to India to attend 2016 Goa BRICS summit.  List of agreements/MOUs  :   Memorandum of Understanding proposed to be executed between EDB, Joint Stock Company Аlexeev’s Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau, Joint Stock Company Radar Mms, Joint Stock Company Morinsis-AGAT and Elcom Systems Private Limited for developing the following: a.A single integrated Transport Logistics System b.Concept of Smart city c.Intellectual monitoring system for the areas of high responsibility, in the State of Andhra Pradesh. MoU on studying perspectives for cooperation in shipbuilding, implementation of infrastructure projects, transfer of technologies and training foreign specialists : It was inked between JSC United Shipbuilding Corporation and the Council for Economic Cooperation of Andhra Pradesh. MoU on Cooperation in the implementation of smart cities program in India with the use of IT solutions of the Russian companies : It was inked between JSC "Rusinformexport” and the Ministry of Urban Development of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, State Company National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd., Government of Haryana. MoU on the joint study of a gas pipeline to India and the other possible areas of Cooperation : It was inked between Gazprom and Engineers India Limited. Rosneft to purchase 98% Essar Oil : as per the decision a Russian consortium comprising energy giant Rosneft Oil Company, commodities trader Trafigura and private investment group United Capital Partners agreed to purchase 98 percent of Essar Oil for 10.9 billion dollars. Cooperation Agreement in the area of Education and Training : It was inked between Rosneft Oil Company and ONGC Videsh Limited. MoU on setting up of Investment Fund : It was inked between NIIF and RDIF. Signing of MoU for Cooperation in increasing the speed of trains between Nagpur- Secundrabad / Hyderabad : It was inked between Indian and Russian railways. Signing of the shareholder agreement for establishing a Joint Venture to manufacture Ka-226T helicopter in India. MoU on Mutual Allocation of Ground Measurement Gathering Stations for GLONASS AND NAvIC : It was inked between ISRO and ROSCOSMOS. MoU on expansion of Bilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation: it was inked between Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation and the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry. MoU between Department of Science & Technology (India) and FASO (Russia) Programme of Cooperation in Oil and Gas Sector for the period 2017-18 Protocol for consultations between the Ministry of External Affairs & Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia for the period 2017-18. Agreement on cooperation in International Information Security Signing of IGA to purchase/construct four additional 1135.6 frigates though partnership between Russian and Indian shipyard Signing of IGA for the procurement of S-400 Air Defence System. They also decided to adopt a Roadmap of Events' to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Russian in 2017. They also released a joint statement partnership for global peace and stability.

Maldives government in October decided to leave the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations. The decision was announced weeks after the organisation warned it of suspension by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) if it failed to take further steps to promote the rule of law and democracy. Maldives had decided to leave the Commonwealth saying it was treated unjustly and unfairly by the Commonwealth. Highlights : The organisation also asked Maldives to encourage political dialogue and release its opposition leaders and improve the democratic institutions. • The nation was put on CMAG’s formal agenda on 23 September 2016 and cautioned that if it fails to saw progress in the six identified priority areas, then it will be suspended from the council of Commonwealth at its next meeting in 2017. Maldives government decision to quit the Commonwealth has invited concern from several quarters within and outside the country. Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland expressed disappointment over the decision and hoped the move will be a temporary one. The country came under international scrutiny after its crackdown on opposition leaders mainly after it jailed several members of different parties along with former President Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed who was released on a medical leave went to London where he was granted asylum.

Brazil won the first BRICS U-17 football tournament. In the title clash played at Nehru Stadium of Margo, Goa on 15 October 2016, Brazil defeated South Africa 5-1. Brazil’s Paulo Henrique Samapaio Filho scored the very first goal of the match in 24th Minute. Followed by Vinicius de Oliveira in the 34th minute, Victor de Oliveira scored a brace in the 40th & 61st minute to give Brazil an upper hand. South Africa’s S’miso Bophela scored the only goal for his team. The icing on Brazil’s cake was set by Alan de Souza Guimaraes in the 6 minutes after the second half resulted the score in favor of Brazil as 5-1. Earlier in the match for the 3rd place between Russia and China, Russia defeated China 2-1. Ten-day BRICS tournament transcends the traditional spheres of interaction and opens new vistas in the field of sports. A first of its kind, the Tournament will be a harbinger for further exchanges in other sports. The enthusiasm evoked by the scintillating display of skills will be an inspiration for the youth of the country and spur India’s impetus towards ‘Khelo India’ and ‘Mission 11 Million’.

Israel has suspended co-operation with the UN's cultural agency, UNESCO, accusing it of denying Judaism's connections to the religion's holiest sites. It also notified the Israel National Commission of UNESCO to suspend all professional activities with the international organisation. The action came after UNESCO approved a draft resolution, which repeatedly used only the Islamic name for a hilltop complex, which is also the holiest site in Judaism. The draft was passed at committee state by 24 votes in favour, six against and 26 abstentions. Now, the draft resolution will be sent to UNESCO’s executive body which will decided via vote that it should be adopted or not. The hilltop complex is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Haram al-Sharif to Muslims. UNESCO's draft resolution : The resolution, sponsored by several Arab countries, refers to occupied Palestine. It seeks to safeguard the Palestinian cultural heritage and the distinctive character of east Jerusalem. It used the Islamic name, al-Haram al-Sharif/al-Aqsa Mosque, for the hilltop compound, which includes the Western Wall. The wall is remnant of the biblical temple and the holiest site where Jews can pray. For Muslims, Haram al-Sharif is the place from where the Prophet Muhammad went to Heaven. It is the third holiest site in Islam. It also criticises Israel’s activities at holy places in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said a UNESCO draft decision concerning Jerusalem denies history and encourages terror. He also said that UNSECO is aiding Islamist terror by ignoring thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem. East Jerusalem, with sites holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, was captured by Israel during the 1967 Mideast war.  

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