Israel slams Unesco over ‘Occupied Jerusalem’


JERUSALEM: Israel suspended cooperation with Unesco on Friday after the UN cultural organization adopted two resolutions on 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.”

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted Unesco for holding the vote Thursday on “Occupied Palestine” saying the Paris-based UN cultural body has lost its legitimacy.

The resolutions that refer to Israel as an “occupying power” were put forward by several Arab countries including Egypt, Lebanon and Algeria, were adopted at committee stage and are to be submitted Tuesday to Unesco ‘s executive body.

Participants said 24 votes were cast in favor and six against with 26 abstentions and two absentees.

The resolutions refer to “Occupied Palestine” and aim to “safeguard the Palestinian cultural heritage and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem”, according to a text seen by AFP.

“With this absurd decision, Unesco has lost what legitimacy it once had,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

The US also voiced displeasure saying it “strongly opposed these resolutions.”

“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,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

The status of Jerusalem is the thorniest issue of the decades-long Palestinian conflict.

Israel captured east Jerusalem during the 1967 war and later annexed it — in a move not recognized by the international community — declaring the entire city its unified capital.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised future state.



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