The latest draft of a resolution entitled “Occupied Palestine” to be voted on this Tuesday by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, has been sharply condemned by a US official.
The resolution – submitted by Arab states Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar and Sudan – declares as its aim the “safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem.” The resolution goes on to attack Israel in the harshest terms, stating that all measures taken by the Jewish state in its capital are “illegal” and “null and void.”
“UNESCO is too often used as a vehicle by member states inclined to delegitimize the State of Israel,” the US official told The Algemeiner. “Although several of these anti-Israel resolutions are typically adopted biannually by UNESCO, over time they have become increasingly political in nature and now question Israel’s basic claim to historic sites.”
The official concluded: “These resolutions are counterproductive to the core work of UNESCO and do nothing to advance the goal we all share of a two-state solution.”
Although the resolution — a copy of which was obtained by The Algemeiner — reaffirms “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions,” it continues by asserting that “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and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”
The Basic Law on Jerusalem was passed by the Knesset in August 1980. It affirms that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
The mention in the current draft of the “Holy City” of Jerusalem is a slight modification of the original draft, which read: “Any action taken by Israel, the occupying power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration on the city of Jerusalem, are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever.”
Other holy sites come into the resolution’s frame as well. Two sites sacred to Jewish worshipers – the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem – are defined by the resolution as “The two Palestinian sites of Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in Al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.” Both, the resolution says, “are an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Israeli and American diplomats at UNESCO in Paris are urging allied members to vote against the resolution – a difficult task given the in-built majority enjoyed by the Arab states at the agency.
(C) 2017 . The Algemeiner Ben Cohen