Israel Withdraws From UNESCO — By Email

The Garden of Peace, UNESCO headquarters, Paris. (Michel Ravassard)

Government announcements are one thing, but until the paperwork gets done, nothing really happens.

So it was with Israel’s withdrawal from UNESCO. Even though the decision had already been made and publicized, Israel remained a member of UNESCO until a formal notice to the organization was delivered effecting the withdrawal.

The notification had to be received before the end of December, however; and as the UNESCO office in Paris was already closed for the non-Jewish holiday, it looked like the Israelis had missed the deadline.

But undaunted, Israeli ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen went to the offices to the deliver the letter to the security guards on duty, according to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

He also came bearing a gift — of chocolates — for the guards.

“The chocolates were presented to the security guards as a new year gift and to sweeten the disturbance,” explained Shama.

Although they were not accepting any packages or letters on the holiday, it was agreed to provide the Israeli diplomat with written confirmation on the official letter that delivery had been attempted but refused.

In any case, UNESCO director Audrey Azoulay said she would accept an email containing the same notice sent by Israel, and it would qualify as having been submitted before the deadline.

However, bureaucracy being what it is, the Israeli withdrawal from UNESCO will not take effect until December 31, 2018, one year later.

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