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Unesco resolution on Jerusalem under fire

The world heritage body passes a ruling condemning Israel for archaeological excavations in the Old City.

    Unesco has once again inflamed passions in the Jewish world after ruling that Israel is the “occupying power” of the Old City of Jerusalem.

    The resolution, put forward by various Arab states, also condemned Israel for archaeological excavations in the Old City and reaffirmed previous UN resolutions denying the country’s claims to East Jerusalem.

    Though the proposal was passed, the decision was not unanimous. Ten countries voted in favour while three opposed it and eight abstained.

    This showed the “sad, needless and pathetic” decision lacked a majority, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

    A spokesman said: “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and no Unesco decision can change that.”

    Meanwhile Carmel Shama HaCohen, Israel’s ambassador to Unesco, said. “I would like to thank the countries who stood by our side today and have once again prevented a dishonorable consensus on an anti-Israel and anti-Jewish decision.”

    The decision was taken during the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee which took place in Krakow, Poland.

    The committee annually votes on the resolution to reaffirm the Old City as being on its endangered list – but under the governance of Jordan. 

    Last year the decision was taken by secret ballot, but this time countries were required to state their position. The decision was rejected by Jamaica, Burkina Faso and the Philippines.

    Abstaining were Angola, Croatia, Finland, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea and Tanzania. Those in favour were: Azerbaijan, Cuba, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

    Back in May a Unesco ruling said Jerusalem is "occupied" and that Israel's rule over it is "null and void".

    America, which is not a member, spoke out against the recent resolution.

    A spokesman for Mr Trump’s government said: “These politicised and one-sided resolutions are damaging to the credibility ofUnesco and greatly hinder the important work that this body is undertaking to safeguard and preserve our diverse world heritage.”

    Following the decision Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) said: “Unesco has a track record of ignoring three millennia of Jewish connection to the Holy City of Jerusalem, undermining religious, historical and archaeological evidence and disregarding Israel’s maintenance of Jerusalem.

    “They have once again risked turning a political dispute into a religious one and this is to be condemned.”

    Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said: “Unesco has once again decided to dismiss thousands of years of Jewish history. It is an insulting political decision for an organisation that has lost all forms of credibility. We reject this decision in the strongest manner.”

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