Israel suspends cooperation with UNESCO after Jerusalem vote

Israel Suspends Cooperation

Israel Suspends Cooperation

Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO on Friday after the UN cultural organisation adopted two resolutions on annexed east Jerusalem ahead of a final vote next week.

In a letter sent to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, Education Minister Naftali Bennett accused the body of ignoring “thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem” and aiding “Islamist terror”.

“I have notified the Israel National Commission for UNESCO to suspend all professional activities with the international organisation,” he said.

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” that “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.