UNESCO to Danon: Israel approved compromise on Jerusalem

On Wednesday UNESCO’s 58-member executive board approved by consensus, two resolutions with regard to the status of Jerusalem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general.

October 11, 2018 18:52
2 minute read.
UNESCO to Danon: Israel approved compromise on Jerusalem

A general view of Jerusalem shows the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem's Old City on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount December 6, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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UNESCO pushed back at Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, after he attacked the organization over the passage of two resolutions green-lighted by his own government’s delegation.

“UNESCO confirmed today that the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian authorities had given their green light to the full text allowing it to be adopted by consensus at the Board,” the organization said Thursday. “This has been the case since one year for all decisions adopted in UNESCO on this issue.”

When pressed over the matter on Thursday, Danon said his opinions with regard to UNESCO were in line with the sentiments expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after he boycotted a UNESCO event condemning antisemitism last month.

At the time, Netanyahu spoke of UNESCO’s “persistent and egregious bias against Israel.”

“Despite other opinions, the policy of Israel regarding UNESCO is very clear, as it was stated by Prime Minister Netanyahu from his statement on September 26,” Danon said.

On Wednesday, UNESCO’s 58-member executive board approved by consensus two resolutions with regard to the status of Jerusalem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general.

Such texts in the past have disavowed Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. The compromise version placed controversial statements in an annex. That annex affirms the significance of Jerusalem’s Old City to all three monotheistic religions.

Israel is not a member of the Executive Board. It worked, however, with its member states and UNESCO’s director-general, Audrey Azoulay, to find a way to diminish the role such annual resolutions have played in the organization.

“We thank again the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian authorities for the spirit of consensus shown during these negotiations. Our wish is to continue facilitating the dialogue in UNESCO between all parties concerned as was explained in yesterday’s director-general’s communiqué,” the UN body said.

The Foreign Ministry didn’t comment on the initial passage of the consensus texts on Wednesday. Its former ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, who was typically outspoken on UNESCO issues, has left his post and his replacement Eli Lev has yet to arrive.

A similar compromise, which placed controversial statements in an addendum, also had Israel’s backing at the April Executive Board meeting.

The compromise mechanism was designed by Azoulay. She did so in part to sway Israel and the US to reconsider their plans to leave the organization by the end of this year.

But while Israel has taken supportive steps in Paris to build bridges with UNESCO, the US has remained determined to leave the organization.

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