Wide­spread Is­raeli praise for US de­ci­sion on UNESCO,

Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By LAHAV HARKOV Shoshana Kran­ish and Herb Keinon con­trib­uted to this re­port.

The US de­ci­sion to with­draw from UNESCO on Thurs­day was met with praise from coali­tion and op­po­si­tion politi­cians alike, cit­ing an anti-Is­rael bias.

Ed­u­ca­tion and Di­as­pora Af­fairs Min­is­ter Naf­tali Ben­nett, who heads the Is­rael UNESCO Com­mis­sion, ap­plauded the de­ci­sion and noted that he be­gan the process of Is­rael’s de­par­ture from the or­ga­ni­za­tion last year.

“UNESCO has turned it­self into a po­lit­i­cal pup­pet of Is­rael-haters. I con­grat­u­late the US ad­min­is­tra­tion for stand­ing by truth. Is­rael needs to join and with­draw too,” Ben­nett said. “As pres­i­dent of the Is­rael Na­tional Com­mis­sion for UNESCO, I an­nounced one year ago, on Oc­to­ber 13, 2016, the sus­pen­sion of all pro­fes­sional work with the or­ga­ni­za­tion. That de­ci­sion was fully im­ple­mented.”

Am­bas­sador to the UN Danny Danon took to Twit­ter to com­mend the US. “To­day is a new day at the UN,’’ he wrote. “There is a price to pay for dis­crim­i­na­tion against Is­rael.’’

Ear­lier this year, UNESCO, the UN’s ed­u­ca­tional, sci­en­tific and cul­tural body, passed res­o­lu­tions deny­ing Is­rael and the Jewish peo­ple’s his­toric con­nec­tion to the Tem­ple Mount. The or­ga­ni­za­tion also de­clared He­bron’s Old City and the Tomb of the Pa­tri­archs as en­dan­gered Pales­tinian sites.

De­fense Min­is­ter Avig­dor Liber­man called the move “an im­por­tant de­ci­sion that shows the val­ues and morals of our great­est ally, the US, to an an­tisemitic and po­lit­i­cally slanted or­ga­ni­za­tion, which turned ly­ing into its cus­tom and lost its path and rel­e­vance.”

Knes­set For­eign Af­fairs and De­fense Com­mit­tee chair­man Avi Dichter also called UNESCO an­tisemitic.

“The West­ern world is be­gin­ning to un­der­stand that the truth is an op­tion, too,” Dichter said. “The fate of UNESCO’s lies is to be thrown in the trash­can of his­tory. The Jewish peo­ple’s con­nec­tion to holy places, which UNESCO un­der­mined, is stronger than 1,000 de­ci­sions.”

Ku­lanu MK Michael Oren also praised the US move in a Twit­ter post, writ­ing that “by cut­ting ties with anti-Is­rael UNESCO that de­nied the Jewish ties to our two holi­est cities [ Jerusalem and He­bron], the US sends a moral mes­sage to the world.”

Strate­gic Af­fairs and Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Gi­lad Er­dan called for the US and Is­rael to with­draw funds from the UN Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion be­cause of its anti-Is­rael bias.

“The UN is turn­ing it­self into an anti-Is­rael dele­git­imiza­tion and BDS or­ga­ni­za­tion, and there is no rea­son Amer­i­can and Is­raeli tax­pay­ers should foot the bill,” Er­dan said.

Much of the op­po­si­tion was equally en­thu­si­as­tic about the US’s de­par­ture from the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

La­bor chair­man Avi Gab­bay said, “UNESCO doesn’t deal with his­tory; rather, it deals in twist­ing Jewish his­tory and po­lit­i­cal sym­bol­ism.”

Zion­ist Union MK Tzipi Livni also ex­pressed ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the US de­ci­sion: “This is a mes­sage to the world that there is a price for one-sided politi­ciza­tion and dis­tort­ing his­tory.”

Yesh Atid chair­man Yair Lapid wrote a Face­book post say­ing the de­par­ture from UNESCO was “jus­ti­fi­able,” and called for Is­rael to do the same, be­fore Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu an­nounced that he had in­structed the For­eign Min­istry to be­gin the process of with­draw­ing Is­rael from the or­ga­ni­za­tion as well.

(Philippe Wo­jazer/Reuters)

UNESCO HEAD­QUAR­TERS in Paris. Shortly af­ter the US’s an­nounce­ment that it will leave the or­ga­ni­za­tion, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu in­structed the For­eign Min­istry to be­gin the process of Is­rael with­draw­ing as well.

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