Regev Calls For Evic­tion of UNESCO From Com­pound in J’slm

The Jewish Voice - - ISRAEL - By: Ilana Mes­sika

Cul­ture and Sport Min­is­ter Miri Regev sub­mit­ted a for­mal de­mand to the cab­i­net last Wed­nes­day to shut down the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNESCO) com­pound in Jerusalem fol­low­ing the con­tro­ver­sial res­o­lu­tion that it passed, which de­nied Is­raeli sovereignty over the city.

“Ben-Gu­rion used to say ‘Umm Sh­mum’ [to ex­press Is­rael’s con­tempt for the UN],” ex­plained Min­is­ter Regev prior to Wed­nes­day’s cab­i­net meet­ing. “And on that note I will re­it­er­ate that the UN head­quar­ters sit­u­ated in Ar­mon Hanatziv since the Six-Day War in 1967 was es­tab­lished for one spe­cific mis­sion, to mon­i­tor peace be­tween the states.”

“To­day, we do not need any su­per­vi­sion since we have peace with Egypt and peace with Jor­dan so this mis­sion has been over for a long time,” claimed Regev. “All the UN does now is sup­port Pales­tinian or­ga­ni­za­tions against the State of Is­rael so the gov­ern­ment should make them leave the area and re­turn the land to state use.”

On Is­rael’s 69th In­de­pen­dence Day on Tues­day, the UNESCO ex­ec­u­tive board voted on a new anti-Is­rael res­o­lu­tion deny­ing Is­raeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. A to­tal of 22 states among the 58-mem­ber board voted in fa­vor of the res­o­lu­tion, 10 voted against, 23 ab­stained, and three were ab­sent.

Is­rael’s ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Ha­co­hen re­jected Regev’s call to evict UNESCO from the of­fice. He warned Is­rael to care­fully weigh its re­sponse to the UNESCO res­o­lu­tion and to con­sult with the state’s al­lies abroad.

The com­pound in ques­tion, lo­cated in the Ar­mon Hanatziv neigh­bor­hood in East Tal­piot, was orig­i­nally leased to the United Na­tions Truce Su­per­vi­sion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNTSO) rent-free to over­see the cease­fire with Jor­dan fol­low­ing the 1967 Six-Day War. The United Na­tions agen­cies UNTSO and UNESCO are cur­rently op­er­at­ing in the com­pound along­side the of­fice of UN en­voy to the Mid­dle East Niko­lay Mlade­nov.

The area is al­ready the sub­ject of a le­gal bat­tle over the UN’s con­struc­tion projects in­side the com­pound. Last month, the le­gal or­ga­ni­za­tion Re­gavim filed a pe­ti­tion in the Jerusalem Dis-

trict Court against the UN, the Jerusalem Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, and the Is­rael Lands Au­thor­ity fol­low­ing the rev­e­la­tion of ex­ten­sive il­le­gal con­struc­tion and a land-grab be­ing car­ried out by the UN in­side the com­pound.

In its pe­ti­tion, Re­gavim doc­u­mented the con­struc­tion of il­le­gal of­fice build­ings and stor­age fa­cil­i­ties in the com­pound in ad­di­tion to work be­ing car­ried out il­le­gally on a his­toric build­ing from 1929. Other vi­o­la­tions in­cluded the op­er­a­tion of an il­le­gal gas sta­tion on site and the seizure of other lands for us­age out­side of their al­lot­ted area.

Af­ter a pre­lim­i­nary tour of the site by For­eign Min­istry rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the state asked the UN for per­mis­sion to re­turn for a more ex­ten­sive in­spec­tion to ver­ify Re­gavim’s ac­cu­sa­tions.

“This is non­sense,” Re­gavim Spokesman Josh Has­ten told Tazpit Press Ser­vice (TPS). “Why should the Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties wait and ask for the UN’s per­mis­sion when the prop­erty is state-owned? If Is­rael thinks some­thing il­le­gal is go­ing on, the state is al­lowed by law to go in and in­ves­ti­gate.”

Re­gavim Direc­tor of Pol­icy and Knesset Af­fairs Meir Deutsch fur­ther ar­gued that the UN has for­got­ten that it is in Jerusalem as a guest of the state and that is uti­liz­ing prop­erty of the state. “Once the tenant starts be­hav­ing like the land­lord, that is a sign that it’s time to find another tenant,” Deutsch said. “That’s what true in­de­pen­dence looks like.”

Cul­ture and Sport Min­is­ter Miri Regev sub­mit­ted a for­mal de­mand to the cab­i­net last Wed­nes­day to shut down the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNESCO) com­pound in Jerusalem fol­low­ing the con­tro­ver­sial res­o­lu­tion that it passed, which de­nied Is­raeli sovereignty over the city. Photo Credit: Hillel Maier

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