The executive council of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has left Israel disquieted, after vowing to effect protections for Palestinian heritage.
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“This is an additional proof for those who did not understand why the United States and Israel withdrew from UNESCO. This proves once again that UNESCO is a body based on lies, biases and deliberate action against us. Israel will not be a member of an organization that is trying to rewrite history and accept to be exploited by our enemies,” in a statement issued by Israel’s United Nations ambassador Danny Danon.
The protections, covering educational and cultural institutions, and seeking to preserve monuments, culture and education in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, highlight Israeli violations against Palestinian heritage, cultural and natural sites, particularly the Old City of Jerusalem, The Temple Mount, the Church of the Nativity, Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque in Bethlehem, the Old City and the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron and the Gaza Strip.
Israel sternly rejected the mandate which the council unanimously espoused Wednesday during a Palestine resolution session at the body’s 205th plenary meeting in Paris.
The disputed resolutions detail, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that, ”The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, a site inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger, is the sacred city of the three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” reaffirming that “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and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”
The Program and External Relations Commission (PX) of the UNESCO executive also adopted a second resolution to include crimes committed by Israel, such as the destruction of schools and other crimes committed in Khan Al-Ahmar.
“The two Palestinian sites of Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in Al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem” are “an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and shares the conviction affirmed by the international community that the two sites are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” the UNESCO declaration added.
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“The ongoing Israeli excavations, works, construction of private roads for settlers and of a wall inside the Old City of Al-Khalil/Hebron which are illegal under international law and harmfully affect the authenticity and integrity of the site, and the subsequent denial of freedom of movement and freedom of access to places of worship.”
Both resolutions are supported by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan.
“Tthe spirit of dialogue and the sense of responsibility that led to this result. A trend towards consensus is now emerging,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay added.