Israel snubs UNESCO event honoring Volcani Institute
Research center, which is part of the Agriculture Ministry, is to be awarded Life Sciences prize, but gov't decides not to attend ceremony; 'The prize will not serve as a fig leaf to legitimize the political resolutions of this organization,' says gov't official.
The United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) has chosen to honor the Israeli Volcani Institute, but the Israeli government has decided to snub the event.
Minister of Education Naftali Bennett and Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel have decided, in conjunction with the Prime Minister's Office, that the insitute would not accept the prize as part of steps Israel is taking against UNESCO for its anti-Israel resolutions.
UNESCO announced in August that it has decided to honor the Israeli Volcani Center, which serves as the research arm of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, for its contribution to the research of life sciences.
This is the first time that an Israeli institute is a recipient of this prize. "The institute has successfully developed cutting-edge innovations and methodologies in agricultural research with practical applications as well as capacity building programs to promote food security in arid, semi-arid and desert environments, advancing human well-being," UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said.
But Israel has decided not to attend the UNESCO 2017 Life Sciences awards ceremony, which is set to take place in Equatorial Guinea in two weeks.
"There is no doubt that the Volcani Institute and its researchers deserve awards and recognition, but not from an organization that has in the past endorsed political resolutions against Israel," said a senior official who was party to the decision.
"The prize awarded to the Volcani Institute will not serve as a fig leaf to legitimize the political resolutions of this organization, which harm the State of Israel," the official said. "Our intention is not to deny the prize and the international recognition from the Volcani Institute, which no doubt deserves it, but they will not (accept the prize—ed) just to (legitimize) UNESCO."
US President Donald Trump has recently decided to withdraw his country's membership from UNESCO. In the wake of that decision, Israel is reconsidering its future membership in the organization as well.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the Foreign Ministry to prepare to withdraw from the UN body. That said, the move is not currently planned for the coming year.