Arab Envoy Says ‘Sorry’ for UNESCO Vote

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli UNESCO ambassador Carmel Shama Hacohen. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

At least one Arab diplomat expressed regret for his part in Friday’s UNESCO decision recognizing Chevron’s old city as an endangered Palestinian heritage site.

The Arab envoy to UNESCO — who was not identified in media reports — apologized to his Israeli counterpart Carmel Shama-Hacohen for not being able to vote against the resolution.

He had promised to vote with Israel on condition that the ballot remained secret. But when it was held in the open, he said, he could not go against the Arab bloc.

“Sorry for today, it was too heated, it is difficult to say it was a secret vote…” the ambassador told Shama-Hacohen in a message, later adding: “No choice…”

“I know, my friend. For me, it is like you did it,” Shama-Hacohen responded.

The rare exchange was published by Yedioth Aharonoth in a screenshot from Shama-Hacohen’s phone.

The vote passed 12-3, with six abstentions.

Israel had demanded that the balloting be conducted behind a curtain to ensure confidentiality. This was reportedly agreed to by the Polish committee chair, Jacek Purchla, but there was no curtain when the time came on Friday.

Despite a vigorous protest from Shama-Hacohen, the balloting was not held in secret.