Israeli and Jewish officials slam UNESCO for passing anti-Semitic resolution
Israeli politicians as well as key Jewish organizations blasted the UN agency on Tuesday for choosing to pass a resolution they deemed anti-Israel in nature.
With 23 countries abstaining and 3 absent altogether, the 58 board members gathered in Paris to approve the resolution referred to as “occupied Palestine” that rejects any part of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
On the very day that Israel celebrated 69 years of modern independence, UNESCO voted 22-10 disavowing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.
The UNESCO Executive Board is expected to ratify the result of the vote on Friday.
Although the number of countries supporting the absurd UNESCO resolution is getting smaller, it is still a significant step for a UN institution to take.
Speaking at the International Bible Quiz prior to the vote, Prime Minister Netanyahu said “There was no nation in the world to whom Jerusalem was more holy than to the Jewish people.” He continued by saying “I know that today there is a vote in UNESCO that will try to deny that simple truth – we reject UNESCO.”
Mr Netanyahu then added “Throughout Jewish history, Jerusalem was the heart of the people, the place to which everyone turned to, went to, and prayed toward.”
The Prime Minister Netanyahu was heavily involved in efforts that began last week to get states that appeared as if they would support the watered-down resolution, to vote against.
Israel had feared it would lose European support, particularly given that as a result of a German-led effort, the 11 EU states on the board had met with the resolution’s Arab sponsors to work on a common language.
But those efforts fell apart when both Italy and the UK stated that they would oppose the measures while Sweden was bent on supporting it.
Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-HaCohen said that the Arab states were shocked on Tuesday to discover how badly the tide had turned against them.
The ten countries who opposed the measure were: The United States, Italy, UK, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Greece, Germany, Paraguay, Togo and the Ukraine.
Among the countries that abstained were Estonia, France, Slovenia, Spain, India, Japan, Kenya and Uganda.
Countries that supported the measure included Russia, Iran, South Africa, China and Brazil.
Among the leaders Netanyahu spoke to in the last few days were the presidents of the Ukraine, Paraguay and Kenya.
The resolution was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
The PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared the vote a victory for international law and a statement against Israel’s “occupation” in Jerusalem.
The vote reaffirms the “centrality of Jerusalem to world heritage as well as the need to confront the dangers posed by the illegal practices of Israel, the occupying Power, in the City and elsewhere, which threaten the cultural and historical integrity of these invaluable sites.”
“We reiterate the single most important threat confronting Jerusalem and other important heritage sites in Palestine continues to be the Israeli occupation and its illegal practices, as well as its intransigence and refusal to respect international law and the obligations it must honour in accordance with these laws,” the PA Foreign Ministry said.
It added that it was pleased that Israel’s “campaign of intimidation, political bullying, and misinformation failed to achieve its desired results and was unable to derail the discussions and decision-making of states from the real and important issues addressed in the resolution.”
At issue is a text that states: “All legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and must be rescinded forthwith.”
MK Ahmed Tibi of the Arab Joint List party said that the text was in line with international law, which holds that east Jerusalem is a territory that was occupied since 1967. “The Knesset’s annexation of Jerusalem doesn’t change that fact or create a new narrative,” he said. “A two-state solution necessitates the creation of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Tibi added.
The new text dropped a controversial element from the 2016 resolution that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, referring to it solely by its Muslim name of Al-Haram Al-Sharif.
This text now states that it reaffirms “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls to the three monotheistic religions.”
In the chamber, Shama-HaCohen told the Arab states, “You might think you won today but actually you lost again and continue to lose with every passing day, as you insist on fighting medieval wars in a modern age.
“Here we are and we are here to stay,” he said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said “Israel does not need legitimacy from political organizations for its unshakable historic connection to our eternal capital Jerusalem, a connection of more than 3,000 years that speaks out from every stone in the city.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, meanwhile, expressed Israel’s anger at Sweden, who was the only EU country to vote for the resolution.
It was not immediately clear whether Israel would summon Sweden’s ambassador to the Foreign Ministry to protest the vote.