U.N. Recognizes Tel-Aviv - But Jerusalem Is Still Alone

An area in Tel Aviv is one of 24 sites that was added last week to UNESCO's World Heritage List. The list also includes Acre, Massada, and - though not listed as an Israeli site - the Old City of Jerusalem.

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An area in Tel Aviv is one of 24 sites that was added last week to UNESCO's World Heritage List. The list now contains over 750 sites, such as the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids, that are considered to be of extraordinary cultural interest to the world community and must be preserved. Education Minister Limor Livnat greeted the decision with enthusiasm, saying, "The decision is an expression of recognition of Tel Aviv as the first Hebrew city as the people of Israel returns to its land."

The area of Tel Aviv that was recognized is known as the White City of Tel Aviv, which is "a synthesis of outstanding significance of the various trends of the Modern Movement in architecture and town planning in the early part of the 20th century," according to UNESCO. "The White City was constructed from the early 1930s till 1948, based on the urban plan by Sir Patrick Geddes, reflecting modern organic planning principles. The buildings were designed by architects who were trained in Europe where they practiced their profession before emigrating to Tel-Aviv. They created an outstanding architectural ensemble of the modern movement in a new cultural context."

The city of Akko (Acre) and Massada are the only two sites in Israel listed by UNESCO on the World Heritage List. However, there is actually one more: "The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls." The explanation is that UNESCO does not consider Jerusalem to be in Israel, and in fact lists "Jerusalem" as if it were its own country.

Arutz-7's Hillel Fendel notes additional indications of UNESCO's dismissal of Israeli ties to Jerusalem. The UNESCO list notes that it was Jordan that presented the 1981 proposal to place Jerusalem on the list - and Israel was not even allowed to attend the session at which the decision was made. The protocol records that Israel and the U.S. had requested Israeli participation in the deliberations, but the Chairman, the Ambassador of Australia, Mr. R. Slatyer, concluded that "Israel could not be invited to participate in the session, since it was not a State Party to the Convention" [the reference is to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage[.

Among the 20 State members in attendance at the session on Jerusalem were Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Libya, while among the 16 observer countries that attended were Algeria, Cuba, Yemen, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. In even starker contrast, though Israel was not permitted to attend the session on the status of Jerusalem, observers from six international organizations were invited, including the African Cultural Institute and the Arab Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization. It should be noted that the U.S. voted against Jerusalem's inclusion on the list, and five countries abstained, because of the political implications of the fact that it was proposed by Jordan. Fourteen countries voted in favor, however, and the motion was passed.