Israel to consider resuming UNESCO ties if resolution vote cancelled

Israel's education minister on Tuesday said he would "consider resuming professional ties" with UNESCO if the organization decides to cancel a vote on a draft resolution that Israel says seeks to erase Jewish ties to a key Jerusalem holy site.

Education Minister Nafteli Bennett's statement comes after Mexico's Foreign Ministry said it plans to abstain from the Tuesday vote. It was one of 24 countries that had approved a draft last week.

Local media was reporting Tuesday that Mexico's switch could prompt the UN body to delay or cancel the vote, though there was no official indications that its decision would have an effect on proceedings.

Mexico also said that it had ended the commission of its ambassador to UNESCO, Andres Roemer. Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama, on Tuesday praised Roemer for leaving the room during the vote on the draft resolution despite Mexico's mandate to approve it.

The resolution's language, which is sharply critical of the Israeli government for its control mechanisms at the holy sites and excavation projects in East Jerusalem, refers to these places primarily by their Islamic names and largely ignored Jewish terms.

Israel's government views the approval of the draft resolution as a political decision and one that ignores history and archaeology.

"What's next? A UNESCO decision denying the connection between peanut butter and jelly?" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted last week after the initial vote.

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova had last week tried to downplay the resolution, saying Jerusalem's history as a city special to Christians, Muslims and Jews was part of its heritage value.

Last update: Tue, 18/10/2016 - 11:54
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