UNESCO agrees to delay anti-Israel votes

UNESCO unanimously agrees to delay votes on anti-Israel resolutions by six months.

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Nitsan Keidar,

Carmel Shama-Hacohen
Carmel Shama-Hacohen
Israeli delegation to UNESCO, spokesperson

For the first time since 2011, UNESCO's executive board did not vote on any anti-Israel resolutions at its meeting.

UNESCO has normally voted on anti-Israel resolutions at every board meeting in recent years.

Wednesday, however, members of the board agreed unanimously to delay the vote on anti-Israel resolutions by six months. Iran, too, agreed to delay the vote.

Prior to the vote, Israeli diplomats were concerned that Iran would attempt to overturn the decision.

Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Israel's envoy to UNESCO, said that "today's achievement is the result of three years of exhausting, frustrating, and difficult diplomatic work."

"Now we are concentrating on the next round," he said. "There's no reason to rest on our laurels. We must think how to use this moment to strengthen the positivity and power we have achieved. Our starting point needs to be the ambition to be understood and positively cooperate with our neighbors. We should not be aiming to win over or coerce each other."

"We owe a lot of thanks to many people in the Foreign Ministry, especially Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who spearheaded the efforts to break the wall of automatic anti-Israel bias in UNESCO."

One of the countries which pushed to delay the anti-Israel vote was Jordan.

Jordan's UNESCO envoy said, "We would like to act as a bridge between societies, and we hope that the consensus achieved today will be of benefit to everyone."

However, the Palestinian Authority's envoy said that even though the decision had been to delay the vote, his organization expects UNESCO to act against "the Israeli occupation, and to implement prior resolutions regarding Jerusalem and the Cave of the Patriarchs."

In July, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee announced their decision to award Israel's Cave of the Patriarchs (Me'arat Hamachpela) to convicted terrorist murderer and Hevron Mayor Tiyassir Abu Sanina, as a representative of the Fatah's Palestinian Authority.

UNESCO passed a resolution in May condemning Israel’s actions in Jerusalem and in Gaza.

In October 2016, UNESCO published its decision that Israel has no rights to Jerusalem, and that Jews have no connection to the Western Wall and Temple Mount.