Death threats for condemning anti-Israel UNESCO resolutions

Irina Bokova given expanded security after her criticism of anti-Israel UNESCO resolutions draws death threats.

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Irina Bokova
Irina Bokova
Reuters

The chief of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, has received "death threats" after she criticized a series of controversial Arab-backed resolutions which seek to erase the Jewish connection to holy sites in Jerusalem, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations organization said on Monday.

"The director general has received death threats and her protection has had to be reinforced," Carmel Shama Cohen said on Israeli public radio.

"These threats were made after her criticism" of two resolutions adopted last week at committee stage ahead of a final vote, Cohen said, accusing Arab countries of "appalling conduct" over the drafts.

Bokova distanced herself from the resolutions in a statement, saying "nowhere more than in Jerusalem do Jewish, Christian and Muslim heritage and traditions share space".

The resolutions refer to "Occupied Palestine" and the need to "safeguard the Palestinian cultural heritage and the distinctive character of east Jerusalem".

They refer to the Temple Mount, site of the two Jewish Temples and the holiest location in the world to Jews, exclusively as an Islamic shrine, calling it by its Arabic name, “Haram a-Sharif” and noting only the Al Aqsa Mosque’s presence. Al Aqsa was built in the 7th century C.E. after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, while the first Jewish Temple was built during the days of King Solomon and stood for over 400 years, with the Second Jewish Temple standing until 70 C.E. when it was destroyed by the Romans.

The latest resolution also ignores the Jewish connection to the Western Wall, the only remaining outer wall built by Herod surrounding the Second Temple Compound, again referring to it by its Arabic name.

Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO on Friday, a day after its committee adopted the two resolutions, which the Jewish state said ignored "thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem".

The two resolutions are due to be put to the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Tuesday, which generally votes with the line taken by committees.

But Michael Worbs, who chairs UNESCO's executive board, told AFP he hoped a final vote would be postponed to allow time for a compromise to be worked out.

AFP contributed to this report








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