Carmel Shama-Hacohen

Italy says it will vote against UNESCO Jerusalem resolution

Israel hopes to secure further support in opposing the resolution—set to be voted on on Independence Day—denying Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem; Germany led efforts for the vote's timing; Israel denounces it as 'Fake history'.

Italy announced Monday morning that it would not be voting in support of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) resolution, scheduled to take place on Israel’s 69th Independence Day on Tuesday, denying Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem.



Despite intense diplomatic efforts undertaken by Israel to exert as much pressure as possible on countries to vote against the resolution, it is expected to pass.


The 58-member UN body will vote on the resolution stating that Israel is not the sovereign nation in Jerusalem.


Old City (Photo: AFP)
Old City (Photo: AFP)


The vote will take place just one day after the nation began celebrations for its Independence Day on Monday evening, with a theme emphasizing Jerusalem’s unification since the 1967 Six-Day War.


Germany was the driving force behind a push for soliciting a compromise from Arab state in the phrasing of the original draft, beseeching them to moderate their language in order to ensure that European countries would not object to the resolution.


Following German pressure, the Arab states softened the original wording and agreed to remove sentences which denied the Jewish people's affiliation with the Temple Mount.



Last year, UNESCO passed a resolution that failed to acknowledge Jewish ties to the Temple Mount by omitting the holy site's Jewish name and referring to it only by its Muslim name—Al-Haram Al Sharif. Only six countries voted against the resolution, and Israel hopes to rally more states to defeat it.


However the apparently softened version did little to mollify anger in Jerusalem, since it negated Israel's sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, including the eastern half and the Old City.


According to the resolution, any decision by the Israeli “occupying power”, the Knesset, the Supreme Court or any legal or administrative judicial authority that pertains to Jerusalem is null and void and bears no significance. The resolution also criticizes Israel's excavations in eastern Jerusalem and the Old City.


Jerusalem expressed outrage over the German involvement in its moves designed to secure its passage rather than quash it all together.


As for their part, European ambassadors issued unusual criticism against the German Ambassador to UNESCO Stefan Krawielicki, and his actions on the matter: "It seems that he is acting on his own personal agenda rather than orders from Berlin,” the said.


Delighting in what appeared to have backfired on Germany’s ambassador, Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen, said in a response that even European nations consider Germany’s form of meddling as a mistake.


Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen
Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen


"This is undoubtedly a positive development that should signal to Germany that the negotiations with the Arabs and the text are a mistake not only in Israel's eyes but also in the eyes of a number of EU countries,” the statement began.


“We are now focused on the mission of Italy being the first, but not the last, country to announce that it does not want to be part of this deal with the Arabs and will vote against it.”


Meanwhile Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely also expressed her dismay at the timing and text of the resolution.

"Tomorrow Israel is going to celebrate its 69th Independence Day. Shortly after, Israel will be celebrating 50 years to the reunification of Jerusalem and 3000 years of Jewish history in our historic capital,” her statement began.

“Tomorrow, even as we celebrate, UNESCO will be voting against Israel's right to sovereignty in its capital city, Jerusalem. This is absurd. We have become used to the concept of 'fake news'. Well, welcome to 'fake history,' she continued.


UNESCO has long been politicized, she contended, adding that it had become a tool in the service of Palestinian propaganda against Israel.


“Such absurd and historically baseless resolutions undermine UNESCO's mission of safeguarding humanity's cultural heritage. We, as Israelis, don’t need UNESCO's approval of our history in our land.”


Nevertheless, she ended by urging member states to vote against the bill if they cherish history and affirm UNESCO’s duty to respect historical truth, before accusing the resolution of being yet another “attempt to subvert international institutions in order to attack Israel.”


פרסום ראשון: 05.01.17, 23:25
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