Bashing Israel, UNESCO also calls tombs part of ‘Occupied Palestinian territory’
Some analysts called the decisions a continuation of a longtime anti-Israel policy at UNESCO, which included resolutions rejecting Israel’s connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
(October 11, 2018 / JNS) The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) PX Commission of the Executive Board voted on Wednesday to adopt a pair of “decisions” titled “Occupied Palestine,” which call the ancient Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem integral parts of “Occupied Palestinian territory” and slam Israel for “other measures aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian territory,” like building a security fence.
Decision 28 and Decision 29, which were sponsored by Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Qatar, Oman and Sudan, took just minutes to pass, and called Israel an “occupier,” accusing Israel of “army violations against Palestinian universities and schools,” and expressing disapproval of Israeli archaeological work in the eastern part of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.
Yet some officials found a silver lining in the decisions, stating that they were actually indicative of a compromise between Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan since they were intended to be voted upon as resolutions, but instead were passed by a consensus as a non-binding annex, an accomplishment Israel has celebrated in the past as a diplomatic success.
UNESCO’s Executive Committee has included similar text in previous years. But new UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, France’s former Minister of Culture and the daughter of a Jewish family, has said to be dedicated to depoliticizing the body and took a role in preventing the decisions from becoming resolutions.
Despite the softening, Israel will still be exiting the body in December along with the United States, until “UNESCO ends its bias against Israel, stops denying history and starts standing up for the truth,” according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon responded by saying, “This is further evidence—for anyone who did not understand why the United States and Israel withdrew from UNESCO—that again proves that UNESCO is a body based on lies and biases, and is deliberately acting against us. The State of Israel will not be a member of an organization that is trying to rewrite history and willing to be manipulated by our enemies.”
The United States withdrew from UNESCO last year.