Israel freezes co-operation with UNESCO over 'Occupied Palestine' support

Israel freezes co-operation with UNESCO over 'Occupied Palestine' support
2 min read
14 October, 2016
Israel's education minister wrote to UNESCO after its decision to condemn Israeli aggression in the area surrounding al-Aqsa mosque.
The al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the holiest sites in the Islamic religion [AFP]
Israel has suspended "all professional activities" with UNESCO over a recent draft decision which "deeply deplores" Israeli actions in Jerusalem and refers to the nation as an "occupying power".

Israel's education minister, Naftali Bennett, informed UNESCO of his decision, in a letter which he also posted to Facebook.

"Following the shameful decision by UNESCO members to deny history and ignore thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, I have notified the Israel National Commission for UNESCO to suspend all professional activities with the international organisation," Bennett said.

"Those who reward supporters of Jihad in Jerusalem, the same week two Israelis were murdered, could be the next victim.

"Tomorrow's terrorist could very well draw his inspiration and legitimacy from UNESCO [sic] deplorable act."

The draft decision in question is Item 25: "Occupied Palestine", which was submitted by Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Sudan and Palestine.

According to the BBC, 24 members voted for the resolution at the committee stage, six voted against and 26 abstained.

The resolution only refers to al-Aqsa mosque by its Arabic name, a point of contention for the resolution's opponents, but also mentions the "importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions".

The text "deeply decries" continuous Israeli "aggressions" and the "forceful entering" of mosques in the region of the Aqsa mosque, one of Islam's most holy sites.

Bennett posted a video to Facebook on October 12, criticising the draft decision.

"We're about to witness this week yet another deplorable act at the UN. Not for the first time, the international community will single out the Jewish state," he said.

"The outcry against Israel's policy of allowing Jews to exercise their property rights in Jerusalem, Judaea and Sumaria [The zionist term for the West Bank], is irritating, not to mention prejudiced."

Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home party, made a speech at a memorial event for a settler leader on October 6, calling for the annexation of the West Bank.

Texan governor, Ted Cruz, wrote a statement on Facebook in response to the decision, reaffirming his support for the state of Israel.

"Congress must redouble its efforts to counter these pernicious attempts to falsely attack and delegitimise our close ally through international institutions by continuing to withhold funding from entities that participate in such activities, and reaffirm our commitment to stand unshakeably  with Israel," he said.

Thirty-nine US lawmakers, led by Cruz, signed a letter, condemning the draft decision on Tuesday. 

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