UNESCO adopts controversial resolution despite Israeli objections

UNESCO formally adopted a controversial resolution on Tuesday that Israel says seeks to erase Jewish ties to a key Jerusalem holy site, according to a spokeswoman for the UN body.

"The decision was formally adopted in the executive board's plenary session without debate, after being voted through in draft form by a commission last week," the spokeswoman said.

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.

Local media had speculated that the resolution would be put to a vote again after Mexico announced that it wanted to change its vote to abstain after it was one of 24 countries that had approved the draft.

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.

Israel's education minister had said Tuesday ahead of the vote that he would "consider resuming professional ties" with UNESCO if the organization had decided to cancel the draft resolution.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett suspended ties Friday, saying the UN body's decision "provides immediate support to Islamist terror."

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 - 15:16
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