UNESCO slams israel’s ‘illegal’ acts in East al-Quds as occupying power
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has passed a resolution, denouncing Israel’s “illegal” practices in East Jerusalem al-Quds and describing the regime as an “occupying power.”
The Jordanian-sponsored resolution was approved during a session of UNESCO’s 21-member World Heritage Committee in the southern Polish city of Krakow on Tuesday. Ten countries voted for, three against and eight abstained.
The resolution slammed “the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem [al-Quds], particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law.”
It further called Israel “the occupying power” and reaffirmed UN resolutions that rejected the regime’s claims to East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem al-Quds in a move not recognized by the international community.
The vote was originally scheduled to take place next week, but it was advanced, according to reports.
Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon reacted to UNESCO’s resolution and said, “Nothing is more disgraceful than UNESCO declaring” Israel the occupier of the Western Wall and Jerusalem al-Quds’ Old City.
Last year, UNESCO adopted a similar resolution, titled Occupied Palestine and sponsored by several Arab countries.
It “strongly condemns the escalating Israeli aggression and illegal measures against… the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their holy site al-Aqsa Mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif.”
Enraged by such anti-Israel measure, Tel Aviv has cut ties with UNESCO and reduced its UN budget, putting the 2017 payments at $3.7 instead of the original $11 million.
Al-Khalil, an endangered city
Meanwhile, UNESCO is to vote Friday on the inclusion of the old city of al-Khalil (Hebron), where the Ibrahimi Mosque is situated, on its List of World Heritage in Danger.
Plaestine’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said the old city of al-Khalil urgently needed protection from “assaults that harm the exceptional international value of the place.”
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley wrote to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, claiming that the mosque “is in no immediate threat. Such a designation risks undermining the seriousness such an assessment by UNESCO should have.”
She further expressed the hope that other countries would join the UN in opposing the measure.
Palestine’s Foreign Ministry hit back at Haley, accusing her of being “racist and anti-Palestinian” and serving as an ambassador for Israel, rather than the US at the UN.
It also condemned “the crude intervention of the US ambassador in the work of UNESCO and the attempt to influence the independence of the UN organization.”