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Israeli envoy: Weigh response to UNESCO decision carefully

Carmel Shama, Israel's representative in UNESCO, rejects call to evict UNESCO from Jerusalem, says response must be carefully planned.

David Rosenberg,

Carmel Shama-Hacohen
Carmel Shama-Hacohen

Israeli envoy to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Carmel Shama-Hacohen responded to the UN body’s anti-Israel resolution passed Tuesday, which denied Israel’s sovereign control over the city of Jerusalem, and the angry response by Israeli lawmakers to the resolution’s passage.

The UNESCO Street Committee voted Tuesday afternoon 22 to 10 to adopt the measure, which declared "all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the “basic law” on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith."

The measure, just the latest in a series of anti-Israel resolutions adopted by the UN body, drew heavy criticism from Israeli leadership and Israel’s backers around the world, including members of the US Congress.

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) said in the wake of the UNESCO decision that the UN’s local headquarters in Jerusalem should be shut down and the property returned to Israel.

"50 years of our sovereignty in the city, there is no need for the presence of UN observers,” Regev told Channel 2 Tuesday night.

“They were given the opportunity to use the compound to supervise the ceasefire agreements of the Six Day War - agreements that are no longer relevant. This saga must end.”

But Israel’s envoy to UNESCO, Shama-Hacohen, warned that Israel should not be hasty in deciding how to respond, rejecting Regev’s call for the eviction of the UN mission in Israel.

In an interview with Channel 2, Shama-Hacohen advised Israel’s leaders to weigh the issue carefully, and to consult with the Jewish state’s allies abroad.

The UN compound in question, which is located in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem, is already the subject of a legal battle over the UN’s illegal construction projects inside the compound.