As Israel celebrates its 69th Independence Day on Tuesday, UNESCO, the U.N. education and social agency, is likely to pass another anti-Israel resolution – this one declaring that Yerushalayim is not under Israeli sovereignty. The new resolution, the latest in a series of anti-Israel resolutions by the organization, is expected to pass, despite feverish Israeli diplomatic activity against it.
Israeli diplomats have particularly been appealing to European countries to side with it against passage of the new resolution, but have made little headway. A report in Haaretz Sunday quoted Israeli sources as blaming Germany for the situation. However, the report adds, the Arab states that are sponsoring the resolution agreed to take a “softer” approach than in previous resolutions, after Germany promised to vote in favor of it.
Previously, UNESCO had passed resolutions denying the Israeli connection to Me’aras Hamachpelah, Kever Rochel, and the Kosel and Har HaBayis. UNESCO President Irene Bukova backtracked from that latter resolution, passed last October, after an international outcry.
The new resolution says that “any action taken by Israel, the occupying power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the city of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever.” The resolution applies not just to areas of Yerushalayim liberated in the Six Day War, but in the western area of the city that was under Israeli sovereignty before 1967 as well. All Israeli institutions in Yerushalayim, including the Knesset, are “irrelevant,” if not illegal. Har HaBayis is not expected to be mentioned in the resolution.
Israeli officials told the Jerusalem Post that they feared the decision could make diplomacy with Europe more complicated, as European countries that choose to follow the letter of the resolution could use it as an excuse to avoid or ignore Knesset decisions about governance in Israel altogether, since the body sits in an “illegally occupied” area.