UNESCO risks fresh Israel anger with Jerusalem resolutions


UNESCO’s decision-making body will next week consider two new resolutions on “Occupied Palestine”, six months after a similar text angered Israel.

The two resolutions, put forward by several Arab countries including Egypt, Lebanon and Algeria, were adopted Thursday at committee stage by the Paris-based organisation.

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

In general, the 58 member states of the UN cultural, scientific and educational body’s Executive Board vote in line with the decisions taken by committees.

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.

Israel is referred to throughout as the “occupying power”.

The terms are the same as those used in a resolution mid-April by UNESCO’s Executive Board.

On that occasion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the resolution as “yet another absurd UN decision”.

He said it “ignores the unique historic connection of Judaism to the Temple Mount” by referring to the site by its Arabic name, the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

However, a Palestinian diplomatic source said the new resolutions submitted refer to the “importance of Jerusalem’s Old City and its walls for the three monotheistic religions”.

France, which was strongly criticised by Israel for supporting the controversial resolution in April, abstained on Thursday.

The Temple Mount, or Al-Aqsa compound, in east Jerusalem, which was taken by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move not recognised internationally, has long been a flashpoint in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

© 2016 AFP

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