New head of UNESCO still undecided
Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari of Qatar slightly strengthened his lead during the second round of secret-ballot voting in Paris on Tuesday to elect the next director-general of UNESCO.
He received 20 out of the 30 necessary votes to replaced Irina Bokova, whose tenure expires at the end of the year.
It’s one more nod of support from the 58-member Executive Board than he received in the first round held Monday evening.
Jewish groups, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League have charged that Kawari is antisemitic, while Israel has remained largely silent on the matter.
The former Qatari culture minister “has overseen or endorsed projects that propagate base antisemitic conspiracy theories,” the ADL said in a statement it released on Monday after Kawari’s initial success.
French-Jewish candidate Audrey Azoulay held her own in second place with 13 votes, the exact same amount of support she received on Monday night.
Egyptian human rights advocate Moushira Khattab remained in third place, but received one more vote than the previous night, bringing her tally up to 12.
Vera El Khoury Lacoeuilhe of Lebanon lost a vote, lowering her tally to five; Qian Tang of China received five votes both nights; and Pham Sanh Chau of Vietnam gained one vote for a total of three.
Polad Bulbuloglu of Azerbaijan withdrew from the race, dropping the number of candidates down to six.
A misunderstanding with regard to a misquote of Israel’s public statements on Khattab led to a phone call Tuesday between Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem and Egypt’s Ambassador to Israel Hazem Khairat.
Rotem assured Khairat that Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO in Paris, Carmel Shama Hacohen, had not said anything negative about the Egyptian candidate.
The Foreign Ministry also issued a warning about the misquote.