Sunday,20 August, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1344, (11 - 17 May 2017)
Sunday,20 August, 2017
Issue 1344, (11 - 17 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

UNESCO demands a halt to Israeli violations in Jerusalem

Israel is illegally occupying Jerusalem, says UNESCO, reports Nevine El-Aref

UNESCO demands a halt to Israeli violations in Jerusalem
UNESCO demands a halt to Israeli violations in Jerusalem

On Friday UNESCO member states endorsed a resolution which referred to Israel as an “occupying power” in Jerusalem and reaffirmed the importance of the Old City and its Walls to the three monotheistic religions Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

The resolution stipulates “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Old City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”

It criticised Israel’s “persistent excavations, tunneling, works and projects” in east Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City, which it described as “illegal under international law”. It also reiterated a request to Israel, as the occupying power, to prevent all violations of the provisions of relevant UNESCO conventions, resolutions and decisions.

The resolution expressed deep concern over “the Israeli closure and ban of the renovation of Al-Rahma Gate” to Al-Aqsa Mosque and urged Israel “to stop obstruction of the necessary restoration works”.

The resolution was introduced by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan. Twenty-two countries, including Russia, China, Brazil and Sweden, backed the motion. Germany, Italy, the United States and the UK were among the 10 countries that voted no while France, Spain and Japan were among the 23 abstentions.

The resolution sparked anger in Israel with some Israeli politicians demanding the UN be expelled from Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the resolution as “absurd and diminishing of Jewish ties to the city”.

“This systematic harassment has a price,” said Netanyahu. He told the Israeli cabinet he had ordered the Foreign Ministry to “cut an additional $1 million from the money Israel transfers to the UN”.

Mounir Anastas, deputy Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO, welcomed the resolution. He described it as “a reminder to Israel of its legal status in East of Jerusalem, which is that of an occupying power”. He demanded Israel stop all violations in the city mentioned in the UNESCO resolution.

Mohamed Momani, Jordan’s minister of state for media affairs, said the resolution on the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif in East Jerusalem represented a political and legal victory against the Israeli occupation. The “historic” decision “underlines the international community’s awareness of the sensitivity of this serious issue,” said Momani, adding “the Israeli violations to the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif have created an environment that supports radicalism and aggression.”

On Sunday, the Israeli government debated whether or not to expel UN and affiliated agencies from their longstanding offices in East Jerusalem.

In 2011 Palestine was recognised as a full member of UNESCO despite intense opposition from Israel and the US.

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