Netanyahu slams UN vote on Jerusalem as 'absurd'
Israel’s prime minister slammed a UNESCO resolution on Tuesday that denounced Israeli excavations in Jerusalem as a violation of international law.
Binyamin Netanyahu called the resolution "absurd" claiming that it denies the Jews' historical connection with Jerusalem by presenting Israel as an occupying power there.
The Israeli leader dismissed the resolution, which passed by 22 votes to 10, with 23 abstentions, saying "there is no other people for whom Jerusalem is as holy and important as it is for the Jewish people."
He went on to accuse UNESCO of "denying that simple truth."
The resolution, which passed on Tuesday at the UN organisation's Paris headquarters, denounced actions taken by "Israel, the occupying power... to alter the character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem."
It particularly criticised Israel's annexation of Jerusalem following its occupation of the city's east in 1967, a move never recognised by the international community.
It said such moves were "null and void and must be rescinded forthwith".
The Palestinian foreign ministry welcomed the declaration, calling it "a victory for international law".
It said the decision reaffirmed "the centrality of Jerusalem to world heritage as well as the need to confront the dangers posed by the illegal practices of Israel, the occupying power... which threaten the cultural and historical integrity of these invaluable sites."
Despite the criticism, Netanyahu also claimed the vote was a victory for Israel.
"The number of countries that supported this absurd proposal continues to decline," he said.
"A year ago 32 states supported it. Six months ago this figure had dropped to 26 and this time there are only 22."
Israel claims Jerusalem as its united capital, while the Palestinians claim the city's east as the capital of their future state.
Israeli officials criticised UNESCO for holding the vote on Tuesday, Israel's Independence Day.
Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the vote "amounts to denying Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem and presents our country as an occupying state on the day when we celebrate our independence".