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UNESCO passes resolution calling Israeli actions in Jerusalem 'null and void'

A picture taken through the window of a restaurant shows a reflection of Jews taking part in the Passover priestly blessing at Jerusalem's Western Wall on April 13, 2017, with the Dome of the Rock seen in the background
Thomas COEX (AFP)
Israeli envoy to UN slams 'biased and blatantly deceitful decision'

The United Nations' cultural agency on Tuesday passed a resolution criticizing Israeli policy in Jerusalem whose wording has raised concerns that it challenges Israel's sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem,

Twenty-two countries voted in favor of the UNESCO resolution, while 10 voted against it, with 26 countries abstaining or being absent, in a vote that coincided with Israel's Independence Day.

While the resolution recognizes "the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions", the text has alarmed many Israeli politicians.

Particularly concerning to the Israeli government is a clause stating that "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and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the 'basic law' on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith."

AFP/Menachem Kahana

The resolution also criticizes "persistent excavations, tunneling, works and projects in East Jerusalem" as illegal and Israel's closure of the Gaza Strip, without mentioning actions against Israel by Hamas, the rulers of Gaza.

On Tuesday, the countries voting against the resolution were the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Greece, Paraguay, Ukraine, Togo, and Germany.

Voting in favor were seen Arab countries, Iran, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, Sweden, Russia, China, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Chad.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said the "biased and blatantly deceitful decision, and the attempts to dispute the connection between Israel and Jerusalem, will not change the simple fact that this city is the historic and eternal capital of the Jewish people. Israel will not stand silently by in the face of this shameful resolution."

A resolution passed by UNESCO in October also drew heavy criticism from the Israeli government.

That resolution acknowledged that the city of Jerusalem is holy to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity but fails to mention the Temple Mount's significance to Jews.

An entire section of the proposal dedicated specifically to the Temple Mount complex refered only to the site's Muslim names (Al-Aqsa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif) and fails to mention its Hebrew or English names (Har HaBayit or Temple Mount).

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