The United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee adopted a resolution on Tuesday reaffirming the international body’s non-recognition of Israeli sovereignty in occupied East Jerusalem, and condemning Israeli policies in the Old City, sparking reactions from both Palestinian and Israeli officials.
Ten member states voted in favor of the resolution, three against, while eight states abstained.
UNESCO declares Israel's ongoing excavations & alterations to the Old City region of Jerusalem as illegal pic.twitter.com/G9EWVxJRYf
— Days of Palestine (@DaysofPalestine) July 5, 2017
The resolution referred to Israel as an “occupying power” in East Jerusalem, and stated that UNESCO “regrets the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law.”
The resolution, unlike one in October 2016, did not mention specifically the issue of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon condemned the resolution as “disgraceful.”
“No faux ‘heritage committee’ can sever the bonds between our people and Jerusalem,” Danon said.
Palestinian leadership has welcomed a new resolution declaring Israeli practices “illegal.” https://t.co/GkmEW5uc6p
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) July 5, 2017
The Israeli Foreign Ministry slammed the resolution as “sad, unnecessary, and pathetic.”
“This is another absurd and irrelevant UNESCO decision, which serves only the enemies of history and truth,” the ministry said in a statement. It went on to reiterate the Israeli claim that Jerusalem was “the eternal capital of the Jewish people” and of Israel – a claim not recognized by the international community.
The Palestinian Authority hailed the latest UNESCO vote coming in the wake of a number of resolutions critical of Israeli policies against Palestinians.
— Sandra Watfa (@sandrawatfa) July 4, 2017
Official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted PA spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud as saying that the resolution rejected Israel’s narrative in Jerusalem.
Al-Mahmoud went on to call the international community to “enforce these decisions on the ground in order to lift injustice, oppression, and domination practiced by the occupying power against our steadfast people in the city of Jerusalem and against its Islamic and Christian holy places.”
The UNESCO resolution comes days ahead of a planned vote over whether to place the Old City of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque on the World Heritage in Danger list.
(Maan, PC, Social Media)