UNESCO World Heritage Committee adopts resolution targeting Israel on Jerusalem


GENEVA, July 5, 2017 – Yesterday, the 21-member UNESCO World Heritage Committee adopted an annual resolution that targets Israel and denies its sovereignty over Jerusalem.
The resolution received 10 Yes votes, and 8 abstentions. Among the abstentions were all 4 of the EU countries on the committee: Croatia, Finland, Poland, and Portugal.
The only 3 countries to vote No were Burkina Faso, Jamaica, and the Philippines.
Due to a rule requiring a two-thirds majority for the resolution to be adopted, the 4 EU countries that abstained had the power to block the resolution. Only 3 additional No votes would have been required.

The resolution refers to Israel as the “occupying Power” in its own capital, and deems its legislative and administrative measures in the city to be “null and void.” The text does not explicitly differentiate between East and West Jerusalem, instead referring simply to the “Holy City of Jerusalem.” Since some consider the entire city to be holy, it is left open for interpretation whether the resolution extends to West Jerusalem as well.
The resolution particularly calls out the “basic law” on Jerusalem as a measure that must be rescinded. Here is an excerpt from the law which UNESCO calls to be rescinded:

Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel
[…]
3. The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.

The resolution also invokes 17 past UNESCO resolutions on Jerusalem. These include 199 EX/Dec.19.1 from April 2016, which propagated the false claim that Israel plants “Jewish fake graves” in Muslim cemeteries, as well as 197 EX/Decision 32 from November 2015, which denies Judaism’s ties to its holiest sites by referring to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall Plaza only by their Islamic names “al-Haram ash-Sharif” and the “Buraq Plaza.”


 

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