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Israel to withhold $1m after latest UNESCO resolution

While Israelis were celebrating Independence Day last week, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed another resolution which denies the Jewish state has sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem, in fact referring to Israel as the “occupying power” of the city.

The resolution asserts that “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would deduct $1 million from the fees it sends to the United Nations after the passage of the “delusional” and “absurd” resolution.

“Israel will not sit by while the organization calls for the denial of our sovereignty in Jerusalem,” he said.

In addition to other criticisms, and continually referring to Israel as the “occupying power” the resolution also says that UNESCO “regrets the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works and projects in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law.”

The resolution was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan. It passed with 22 states voting in favor, 10 against, 23 abstentions and three absentees.

The countries that voted against the resolution were the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Greece, Germany, Paraguay, Togo and Ukraine. Sweden was the only European nation to vote in favor of it.

Although the Palestinian leadership claimed victory, the number of countries voting in favor this time is significantly less than the 33 countries which approved last year’s UNESCO resolution denying Israel’s claim to the Temple Mount.

“Such absurd and historically baseless resolutions undermine UNESCO’s mission of safeguarding humanity’s cultural heritage,” Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotolevy told the media on the eve of the vote. “We, as Israelis, don’t need UNESCO’s approval of our history in our land.”

Karen Faulkner
Karen Faulkner is a British Israeli citizen. She has a Master's degree in Human Rights & Transitional Justice from Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

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