Issue 598: UK, France, Germany Aid Israel in Opposing Palestinian UNESCO Bid to Deny Jewish ties to Western Wall


 Click here for video of UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer’s i24 interview on UNESCO

GENEVA, July 12, 2016 — The UK, France and Germany are helping Israel to oppose a Palestinian-Jordanian draft resolution at UNESCO that effectively denies ancient Jewish and Christian history in the holy city, according to a report by the Jerusalem Post citing Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon.

The Arab-sponsored draft, which was circulated ahead of the annual session of the 21-nation World Heritage Committee now meeting in Istanbul, refers ten times to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, the Islamic term for Temple Mount, without mentioning that it has been the holiest site in Judaism for thousands of years.

While neither France, Germany or the UK are on the committee, the more countries that announce their opposition to the text, the less likely it will be that the Palestinians will try and pass it, Nachshon said.
France backed a similar resolution at UNESCO’s executive board in April, but after an outcry several of its leaders expressed regret. President Hollande pledged to be “vigilant” in the next resolution, to affirm the shared significance of the holy sites. Now is an opportunity for Mr. Hollande to fulfill his pledge. Brazil, which also expressed regret, should likewise play a positive role this week in Istanbul.
According to analysis by the Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon, the Arab states can expect support from 11 of the 21 committee members. Six of them—Cuba, Indonesia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia and Zimbabwe—are almost certain to back the Palestinians, while another five, the Philippines, Jamaica, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, are likely to do the same.
On the other hand, Croatia, Finland, Poland, Portugal, South Korea and Tanzania are likely to oppose or abstain. Angola and Burkina Faso might abstain, as possibly could Peru and Vietnam.


After UNESCO Vote in April, French Leaders Criticized Own Position

Above: Prime Minister Manuel Valls, President Francois Hollande, and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve 

  • After the April resolution at UNESCO that effectively denied Jewish ties to Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reprimanded French President Francois Hollande for his country’s support of the resolution, citing it as a stumbling block to Israel endorsing a French-led international conference on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
  • In a rare development, French leaders then questioned their own government’s vote. President Francois Hollande indicated that he will be “vigilant” in ensuring that the next text on the subject, expected in October, will be unequivocal in its affirmation of the shared significance of the holy sites.
  • Prime Minister Manuel Valls more sharply criticized the resolution, saying: “This UNESCO resolution contains unfortunate, clumsy wording that offends and unquestionably should have been avoided, as should have the vote.”
  • Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also criticized France’s vote, telling an event organized by CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, that he does “not take a supportive view of the text.” The resolution “should not have been adopted,” Cazeneuve said at the event in Paris, adding that the resolution passed “was not written as it should have been,” the Le Figaro daily reported.
UN Watch