Shimon Samuels
Shimon Samuels

A Palestino-European Union Resolution at UNESCO

Last week, outgoing UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova stated to the World Jewish Congress in New York that “to deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the City of Jerusalem and runs counter to the reasons that justify its inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage list.”

The UNESCO Executive Board of 58 member-states is due to vote, Tuesday 2 May, on its annual Jerusalem resolution, which is ferociously anti-Israel. The fact that the debate takes place on Independence Day is one more indication of its aim to delegitimize the Jewish State.

The resolution will be presented by those Arab states that are members of the Executive Board: Algeria,Egypt,Lebanon,Morocco,Qatar and Sudan.
The Qatari candidate,by his inclusion,only last Thursday displayed a blinding hypocrisy in promising to fight politicization of UNESCO by seeking consensus
The Wiesenthal Centre has received a copy of the resolution in question, which our European source bitterly described as “a Palestinian-European Union” document, concocted between them on Friday.
An EU official prefers to call it “the fruit of negotiations”

Sitting through UNESCO meetings is dispiriting, but worthwhile in the breaks when corridor and cafeteria chatter turns to regional group interests: “the European Group wants consensus and is being led by Germany, whether on Crimea or Jerusalem. To hell with Russia or Israel, if 27 EU States can show unity to Brexit Britain”,I was told.

The new text is in the language of the UN Security Council – indeed referencing its Resolution 2334 which had famously not been vetoed by the Obama administration – rather than in the measured tone expected from the UN Education,Science and Culture Organization.

Now pre-approved by the EU and placed with the Secretariat for translation,passage is ensured, as from Friday until Tuesday is the May 1 long holiday weekend, thus blocking further discussion or modification by closed Foreign Ministries.

One may recall, that for the same reason, Hitler always launched his aggressions on Friday evenings

The original version of the Arab States’ draft had three red lines for Jews and, by association, Christians:

1 That all preceding UNESCO resolutions be acknowledged as part of the April 2017 text. (A Latin American delegate told me that last year’s resolution claiming the Western Wall and the Temple Mount was “anti-Jewish”, while the current resolution is “only anti-Israel”)

2 The Palestinian character of “Jerusalem” implied all of Jerusalem – East and West.

3 The continued status of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem denoted as mosques;

Ib The new “Palestino-European final resolution” recalls in article 2, “the resolutions and decisions of UNESCO relating to Jerusalem” and in article 6, it “Further recalls the 11 decisions of the Executive Board” from 2000 to 2016 and “the 7 World Heritage Committee decisions” i.e. resolutions from 2009 t0 2016.

A sweetener has been added in article 4,to apparently salve the EU conscience: “Reaffirming the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions”

2b This spurious goodwill is immediately dashed by article 5, “…all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel,the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith”
To quote our Latin insider, “I thought every stone in Jerusalem was holy – East and West”

3b “The two Palestinian sites of Al-Haram Al Ibrahim/Tomb of the Patriarchs in Al Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, article 13, “Reaffirms the two concerned sites … are an integral part of the Occupied Palestinan Territory… [NOW THE EU BITTERSWEET CONTRIBUTION]…and shares the conviction affirmed by the international community that the two sites are of religious significance for Judaism ,Christianity and Islam”

For good measure ,the new text in article 10 is the clearest message of UN hostile unbalanced audacity: “Deplores military confrontations in and around the Gaza Strip and civilian casualties…attacks on schools and other educational and cultural facilities [and on] UNWRA”

Is the EU blind to Hamas terror industry in Gaza and its ties to sister Jihadists in Europe? Or is it 1930’s-style appeasement – to feed the crocodile to be eaten last?

At the last of these anti-Israel and,indeed anti-Jewish, ballots, Estonia,Lithuania,Germany,Netherlands and the United Kingdom all voted against,as did the United States
On Tuesday,will the EU vote for unity or conscience?

If this is a measure,the pervasive atmosphere of UNESCO sadly points to institutional suicide.
To be continued…

About the Author
Shimon Samuels is Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He has served as Deputy Director of the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, European Director of ADL, and Israel Director of AJC. He was born in UK and studied in UK, Israel, U.S. and Japan.
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