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Bibi stresses absurd Unesco vote to Guterres

  • GUTERRES ANTONIO HOME
Congratulating Antonio Guterres on his post as new UN secretary-general last week, Netanyahu said he hopes the former Portuguese prime minister will seek to balance the world body’s relationship with Israel
by ANT KATZ | Oct 19, 2016

Before last Thursday’s Unesco brouhaha sponsored by Arab members against the wishes of Unesco’s secretary-general this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling to congratulate the newly-announced secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, asked the new world diplomatic head whether the vote would erase any Jewish ties to the Temple Mount or Kotel.

bibi - dec 14 - HOMEIt was subsequently ratified this Tuesday, when a vote was taken by Unesco’s 58-member Programme and External Relations Commission in advance of its expected ratification on Tuesday by the Unesco executive board, which is made up of the same member states – Netanyahu had predicted correctly.


RIGHT: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Other internal squabbles at the UN and within Israel and the Palestinian Authority, abounded after the Unesco resolution was passed. Among the most interesting of them reported in the the media are:

Mexico’s Ambassador to Unesco was fired for his personal protest. The Jewish envoy refused to cast a vote – but left the room leaving his deputy to do the deed. His protest was, however, noted by his government who softened their vote from being in “favour” on Thursday to “abstain” on Tuesday and apologised to Mexican Jewry.

Also Friday, Unesco’s outgoing director-general, Irina Bokova, stepped away from the decision, writing on the Unesco website that “Jerusalem is the sacred city of the three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

UNESCO3“The heritage of Jerusalem is indivisible, and each of its communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city. To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription on the Unesco World Heritage list,” she wrote.


Unesco’s outgoing director-general, Irina Bokova, infuriated PA

“In the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant. In the [New Testament], Jerusalem is the city of the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the Qur'an, Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam, where Muhammad arrived after his night journey from al-Haram Mosque (Mecca) to al-Aqsa,” she continued.

“Al-Aqsa Mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif, the sacred shrine of Muslims, is also the Har Habayit – or Temple Mount – whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism, a few steps away from the [Church of the Holy] Sepulcher and the Mount of Olives revered by Christians.”



PA’s Maliki seems to have lost it

Her words were quickly attacked by PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who said she “overstepped the scope of her mandate by speaking out against a resolution adopted by the executive board of the organisation.

"This unusual and unacceptable position is an affront to the sovereignty of the governing body of Unesco. Further, Ms Bokova’s declaration undermines the work and authority of the executive board and is, hence, completely unacceptable.”

In one comment displaying a particular lack of lucidity, Maliki said that Bokova “decided to capitulate to Israeli pressure to block the resolution”. As she is about to leave the organisation and the vote had already been taken, quite how and where Maliki felt Bokova was in any way capitulating is clearly moot. But he was on a roll and unstoppable: “Ms Bokova chose to appease the PR bullying campaign, run by Israel, against the resolution, which addresses illegal Israeli practices in occupied east Jerusalem,” the PA foreign minister said.



Israeli politicians add their bit

Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, on the other hand, praised Bokova, and claimed credit for Bokova’s statement, which she said was a response to a letter she sent her in which Livni complained about the decision and warned that it could spark a religious conflict and violate the sensitive status quo in Jerusalem.

Livni said Bokova’s statement is proof that scandalous decisions could be prevented if Israel handled its international diplomacy better. “We need to make a better effort to persuade people, even in difficult places, and not leave the playing field to the Palestinians,” she said.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak wrote on Twitter that “the ridiculous decision of Unesco with the support of Russia and China is a monumental failure for Netanyahu in the international arena.”

  • Author’s footnote: Having added “Guterres” to all my spellcheck dictionaries and viewed numerous videos to get the pronunciation right, I am ready for a new Secretary-General of the world  -AK  

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2 Comments

  1. 2 nat cheiman 19 Oct
    It would be nice if Guterres is balanced. But most of the world is not and is anti Israel.
    Not much will change so don't hold your breath.
  2. 1 David B 21 Oct
    what is balanced about his vision to create a new world order government run by united nations ?  like a larger than life European parliament.
    can you imagine a new umbrella government run by the extreme left ( handwringers and apologists for all that is ungovernable with the tab being picked up by the western world as usual. What will Saudi Arabia contribute - or Iran for that matter - xero as usual   

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