Israel urged UNESCO’s 58-member Executive Board not to promote “fake” history by approving on Tuesday a Palestinian-backed resolution that rejects Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.
"Tomorrow, even as we celebrate, UNESCO will be voting against Israel's right to sovereignty in its capital city, Jerusalem,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely ahead of the vote which is slated to take place on the same day Israel marks its 69th Independence Day.
"This is absurd. We have become used to the concept of 'fake news'. Well, welcome to 'fake history,” Hotovely said.
She spoke in English in a video addressed to the member states, particularly the 11 European Union members of the board.
UNESCO, she charged, “has long been politicized and unfortunately has become a tool in the service of Palestinian propaganda against Israel.”
Both Israel and the Palestinians are battling for the support of the European states, whom they believe lend extra credibility to the final results of the board’s vote in Paris.
"We, as Israelis, don’t need UNESCO's approval of our history in our land. However, for the countries voting tomorrow, I must say in the clearest terms: if you cherish history and affirm UNESCO's duty to respect historical truth, there is no choice other than to vote against this latest attempt to subvert international institutions in order to attack Israel,” Hotovely said.
At issue is a text that states: “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and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and must be rescinded forthwith.”
The vague nature of the language could mean that the text refers to the issue of Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.
Israel is concerned both by the language of the text and the public relations aspect of a UNESCO board disavowing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem on the country’s Independence Day.
Last year five of the 11 EU member states on the UNESCO Executive Board voted against a controversial text that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, referring to it solely by its Muslim name of Al-Haram Al-Sharif. The other six abstained.
This year that text was dropped by the Arab Board members that submitted the resolution, such as Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan.
The modified and more moderate text still attacks Israel for its actions in Jerusalem and Gaza, but is structured in such as way as to make it possible for European nations to support it if they chose.
An EU official said the latest draft is not inconsistent with the body’s position on Jerusalem.
A spokesman for the German Embassy in Jerusalem said, “we are still trying to find a common European position on the UNESCO.”
The spokesman did not respond to Israeli allegations that Berlin had initiated the push for a common EU position. Israel fears that Germany will sway the other EU member states to abstain or vote in favor of the resolution.
A diplomatic source said that Italy appears to be ready to vote against the resolution.
Germany’s actions in Paris have only heightened the recent tensions between the two countries.
Last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled his meeting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel over his meeting with the left-wing group Breaking the Silence during his visit to Israel.
Netanyahu also attacked the foreign minister in an interview with German newspaper Bild
PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki accused Israel of inciting against the Palestinians at UNESCO, adding that it had swayed the the US to stand behind such efforts.
He warned Israel that it would fail to halt Palestinian resolutions at UNESCO unless it “ended the occupation.”