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PA Slams Israel for Calling Off Politicized UNESCO Mission

The PA's foreign ministry slams Israel for calling off a UNESCO investigative mission to Jerusalem, after the PA tried to politicize it.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/31/2013, 12:14 AM

Jerusalem Old City
Jerusalem Old City
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry slammed Israel on Thursday for having called off a United Nations investigative mission to Jerusalem's Old City, calling it an act of "contempt of international law and institutions," according to AFP.

The ministry said it "condemns in the strongest possible terms the decision of Israel, the occupying power, to prevent the technical mission of UNESCO from carrying its monitoring mission in the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls."

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was scheduled earlier this month to assess the state of the Old City of Jerusalem, the first such monitoring mission since 2004, following pressure from Jordan and the PA, which became a member of the organization in 2011.

Ahead of the start of the delegation's work, Israel called it off, explaining that the PA was were trying to "politicize" it contrary to understandings reached by the sides, and to change the action plan UNESCO decided upon in 2010.

The UN group claimed it wanted to visit Jerusalem to catalog the sites, and that the trip was to be professional in nature – and that it would not have a political character. On that basis, the government agreed to allow the group into Israel.

But in reality, a government source explained when the visit was cancelled, UNESCO officials had set up several meetings with Arab activists, Palestinian Authority figures, and terrorists, giving the visit a political, not professional, character.

As such, UNESCO lied, the source said, violating the agreement with Israel – and thus the entire visit would be cancelled.

The PA slammed Israel's decision as "yet another manifestation of its contempt of international law and institutions that represent it, as well as to the states sponsoring this consensus," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It called on UNESCO to "proceed with the mandate of the mission" and not allow Israel to "impede the work" of the United Nations body, the statement read, according to AFP.

In March, the Palestinian Authority confirmed a verbal agreement dating back to 1924 giving Jordan custodianship over Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem, whose eastern sector Israel liberated from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.

When the UNESCO was agreed upon, Jordan said that Israel had agreed to allow the visit in exchange for the PA postponing resolutions against Israel it had planned to bring up before the UN’s cultural agency.

Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers condemned the PA’s agreement to postpone the anti-Israeli resolutions, saying it was “like a reward to the occupation for its crimes and violations.”