Is­rael sus­pends co­op­er­a­tion with UNESCO af­ter vote

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

JERUSALEM: Is­rael sus­pended co­op­er­a­tion with UNESCO yes­ter­day af­ter the UN cul­tural or­ga­ni­za­tion adopted two res­o­lu­tions on the oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries in­clud­ing an­nexed east Jerusalem ahead of a fi­nal vote next week. In a let­ter sent to UNESCO Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Irina Bokova, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Naf­tali Ben­nett ac­cused the body of ig­nor­ing “thou­sands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem” and aid­ing “Is­lamist ter­ror”. “I have no­ti­fied the Is­rael Na­tional Com­mis­sion for UNESCO to sus­pend all pro­fes­sional ac­tiv­i­ties with the in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion,” he said.

Bokova dis­tanced her­self from the res­o­lu­tions in a state­ment, say­ing “nowhere more than in Jerusalem do Jewish, Chris­tian and Mus­lim her­itage and tra­di­tions share space”. The res­o­lu­tions adopted at com­mit­tee stage on Thurs­day re­fer to “Oc­cu­pied Pales­tine” and the need to “safe­guard the Pales­tinian cul­tural her­itage and the dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter of east Jerusalem.” They re­fer to the Al-Aqsa mosque com­pound in east Jerusalem’s Old City - Is­lam’s third holi­est site - with­out any ref­er­ence to the site also be­ing revered by Jews as the Tem­ple Mount.

On Thurs­day, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu com­plained that say­ing “Is­rael has no con­nec­tion to the Tem­ple Mount and Western Wall is like say­ing China has no con­nec­tion to the Great Wall of China or Egypt has no con­nec­tion to the pyra­mids”. Bokova did not specif­i­cally men­tion the res­o­lu­tions in her state­ment but did re­fer to the Tem­ple Mount. “The her­itage of Jerusalem is in­di­vis­i­ble, and each of its com­mu­ni­ties has a right to the ex­plicit recog­ni­tion of their his­tory and re­la­tion­ship with the city,” she said. “To deny, con­ceal or erase any of the Jewish, Chris­tian or Mus­lim tra­di­tions un­der­mines the in­tegrity of the site, and runs counter to the rea­sons that jus­ti­fied its in­scrip­tion on the UNESCO World Her­itage list.”

Par­tic­i­pants said the two res­o­lu­tions, which were put for­ward by Arab coun­tries in­clud­ing Egypt, Le­banon and Al­ge­ria, were adopted by 24 votes to six with 26 ab­sten­tions and two ab­sen­tees. They are to be put to the UNESCO Ex­ec­u­tive Board on Tues­day but in gen­eral it votes in line with the de­ci­sions taken by com­mit­tees. Wash­ing­ton has ex­pressed its strong op­po­si­tion. “We are deeply con­cerned about these kinds of re­cur­ring politi­cized res­o­lu­tions that do noth­ing to ad­vance con­struc­tive re­sults on the ground and we don’t be­lieve they should be adopted,” said State De­part­ment deputy spokesman Mark Toner. — AFP

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