Indian President Pranab Mukherjee with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)
Hope that India had changed its traditional pattern of voting against Israel at international forum, and instead abstaining, melted away this week when India voted for an anti-Israel UNESCO motion.
On Wednesday, the executive board of UNESCO, the UN’s cultural heritage agency, passed a one-sided resolution that solely condemned Israel’s aggression on the Temple Mount, and declared that the Jewish holy sites of the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb are “integral parts of Palestine.”
India was one of the 26 countries that voted for the motion, while another 25 abstained and six voted against.
India, whose president Pranab Mukherjee visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority last week – and at two public appearances in the PA did not once condemn terrorism – joined the other “usual suspects” in voting against Israel.
These include 16 countries of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference, as well as other states such as Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Russia and China.
Israel hoped that India was changing its voting patterns following two votes in the summer where it abstained – one at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva dealing with Operation Protective Edge, and another on a vote to give UN recognition to an NGO that Israel said was linked to Hamas – leading to speculation that India was ending its reflexive support for the Palestinians at the UN.
Meanwhile, five of the nine EU states on the UNESCO executive board – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – joined the US in voting against the anti-Israel resolution.
Four other EU states – Austria, France, Italy and Spain – abstained, showing again that there is no consensus in the EU on Israel-related issues.
An analysis of the UNESCO voting shows that Israel is having trouble garnering support in Latin America, while its situation in Africa is considerably better.
In Latin America, fully seven members voted for the proposal, while only El Salvador abstained. In sub-Saharan Africa, eight states abstained – Angola, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Malawi, Togo and Uganda – while six voted for the measure, including Nigeria, with whom Israel has good security ties.
In Asia, Japan, South Korea and Thailand abstained, while China, India and Indonesia voted for.
The vote may also give an indication of what to expect next year on the UN Security Council, where 10 members of UNESCO’s executive board will be on the Security Council as of January 1.
Of those countries, China, Russia and Egypt, voted against Israel; the US and Britain supported Israel; and another five – Angola, Spain, France, Japan and Ukraine – abstained.