Jewish Groups: UNESCO Vote Proves Organization is a ‘Farce’

The Archaeology Park on the Temple Mount

Jewish Groups: UNESCO Vote Proves Organization is a ‘Farce’

Written by Michael Bachner/TPS on October 26, 2016

Pro-Israel organizations, including StandWtihUs and the International Legal Forum, as well as Israel’s delegation to UNESCO slammed the ratification of a UNESCO World Heritage Committee resolution Wednesday denying Jews’ connection to holy sites in Jerusalem. But the groups also said that despite this, the issue backfired on the Arab states.

“Of course, we’re sorry that UNESCO passed this absurd resolution, but there is also a very important positive side to this whole issue,” said Yifa Segal, director of the International Legal Forum. Speaking to Tazpit Press Service (TPS) by phone from Paris, Segal, who together with StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein met with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova on Tuesday to protest the resolution, said that their efforts in recent weeks to garner support for Israel did not go to waste.

“I don’t feel like we lost this fight. To the contrary: The Palestinians and Jordanians thought they could just use the automatic pro-Arab vote to push through yet another anti-Israel resolution, but it backfired. The Arab states successfully showed the world what a farce votes like this are. That gives us a push to continue our activities throughout the international community,” Segal said.

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UNESCO’S Executive Board approved the original draft resolution was approved two weeks ago. Today, however, Israeli officials also welcomed some changes in the resolution’s language, as well as the fact that it did not pass unanimously.

Following several countries’ declarations of support for Israel, the final text does not refer to Israel as an “occupying power” in Jerusalem, and the term Western Wall is no longer written in quotation marks, as it was in the original resolution.

Ten of the 21 member states supported the resolution, two opposed it, eight abstained and one was absent from the vote.

“We managed to get the Arabs to almost completely back down on the issue of the Western Wall, and the issue of the Temple Mount will also be resolved in the future,” said Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen.

“Even so, the approved resolution is still an outrageous absurd that belongs in the dustbin of history, alongside thousands of previous attempts to harm the Jewish people and its heritage,” added Shama-Hacohen.

“At the end of the day, the Palestinians and the Arab states were left without the consensus they thought they had,” said Shama-Hacohen. “Only Muslim countries supported the resolution, joined by Vietnam and Cuba.”

The draft resolution was filed by Kuwait, Lebanon and Tunisia on behalf of Jordan and the Palestinians, who are not members of the World Heritage Committee. At the beest of Croatia and Tanzania, the final vote was a secret ballot.

“A special thanks goes to two brave countries, Croatia and Tanzania, who openly demanded a secret ballot in front of the whole Arab world. Our ally, the United States, also had a significant part in obstructing the Arab attempt to pass the resolution unanimously,” said Shama-Hacohen.

The resolution criticizes Israeli actions on and around the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, but contains no reference to the Jewish names for the site. Instead, the draft refers only to the Muslim name, al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary. Even the Western Wall is mentioned in the resolution mainly by its Arabic name, al-Buraq Plaza.


Additional reporting by Andrew Friedman


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