Board of Deputies dismisses Emily Thornberry's claim Unesco has no 'anti-Israel bias'

Shadow foreign secretary said Britain withdrawing would just be to 'curry favour with Donald Trump and Binyamin Netanyahu'


The Board of Deputies has criticised Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry's defence of Unesco following the call by a cabinet minister for Britain to withdraw from it.

Ms Thornberry dismissed the suggestion from International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt as simply an attempt to “curry favour with Donald Trump and Binyamin Netanyahu”.

The United States and Israel are both due to quit the UN’s educational, cultural and science body by the end of the year.

In an article in the Guardian, Ms Thornberry said the call for British withdrawal out of Unesco was “nothing but a smokescreen for the Tories’ shameful obsession with pleasing this US president.

“When the Trump administration announced its withdrawal from Unesco jointly with Netanyahu’s last year, it was explicit about the supposed 'anti-Israel bias' that had driven its decision, by which it meant Unesco’s temerity in accepting the overwhelming vote of its members in 2011 to admit the state of Palestine as a full member.”

But the Board, responding on Twitter, listed a series of Unesco's actions had “denied the Jewish link to Judaism’s holiest site; cancelled an exhibition on the Jewish presence in Israel; recognised the Tomb of the Patriarchs [in Hebron] as Palestinian, omitting the Jewish connection.”

According to the Times, Ms Mordaunt had argued that Unesco’s activities did not fit in with her department’s spending plans.

Her predecessor, Priti Patel, a staunch defender of Israel, had also proposed leaving Unesco while she was in office.

But a spokesman for the Government said there had been “no change to our commitment to Unesco”.

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