The Jewish Voice

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

- 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...
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...

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