UNESCO Rebuffs Danon on Resolution

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon in August, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An official of UNESCO strongly rebuffed Israel’s U.N. ambassador Danny Danon over the agency’s latest resolution on the status of the holy sites in Israel, including Maaras Hamachpelah and Kever Rochel, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Danon charged that the condemnations issued by UNESCO Executive Board were only more reason for Israel and the U.S. to go ahead with decisions to leave the agency in protest, rejecting the suggestion that compromises agreed to tone down the document were a sign of progress.

However, the official shot back on Thursday that “UNESCO confirmed today that the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian authorities had given their green light to the full text allowing it to be adopted by consensus at the Board.”

This has been the case since one year for all decisions adopted in UNESCO on this issue,” the spokesperson said.

This year’s resolutions represented a compromise worked out by UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay to segregate the condemnatory passage in a separate section outside the main text.

There were changes in the language as well. Where previous UNESCO resolutions had ignored Jewish ties to the holy sites, this time it stated that while Kever Rachel and Maaras Hamachpelah “are an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the two sites “are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

In addition, it affirmed the importance of the “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions.”

Officials expressed the feeling, furthermore, that the willingness of the concerned parties to agree to a compromise acceptable to Israel might induce it to cancel its withdrawal.

But the honorable mention of Judaism in the resolution did not convince Danon.

Commenting on the agency pushback on Thursday, Danon said that his statement regarding UNESCO the day before were consistent with recent statements on the matter made by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

He added that “Despite other opinions, the policy of Israel regarding UNESCO is very clear, as it was stated by PM Netanyahu from his statement on September 26,” when he denounced its anti-Israel bias and said it was canceling its membership.

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