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Israel trims UN budget again over Jerusalem resolution

Le Premier ministre israélien Benjamin Netanyahu lors d'un discours au cimetière militaire du Mont Herzel, à Jérusalem, le 1er mai 2017
GIL COHEN-MAGEN (äàøõ/AFP)
Israel to cut $1 million from its funding over resolution Netanyahu says denies Jews' historical connection'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday that Israel would cut $1 million from its United Nations funding over a UNESCO resolution he says denies Jews' historical connection with Jerusalem.

The resolution, passed Tuesday at the UN organisation's Paris headquarters 22 votes to 10, with 23 abstentions, denounced actions taken by "Israel, the occupying power... to alter the character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem."

It particularly criticised Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem after occupying it in 1967, a move never recognised by the international community.

"UNESCO again accepted an absurd resolution yesterday about the status of Jerusalem -- the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years," Netanyahu said at the opening of a cabinet meeting.

"This systematic harassment has a price," said Netanyahu, telling ministers he had ordered the foreign ministry to "cut an additional $1 million from the money Israel transfers to the UN."

Wednesday's cut was the third time in recent months Israel reduced its UN budget over what it perceived as anti-Israel votes, putting the 2017 payments at $3.7 instead of the original $11 million, an Israeli official said.

Netanyahu, however, noted the "silver lining" of Tuesday's vote, which he said saw more states supporting Israel's position than in previous similar resolutions.

"This is a consistent trend," he said, thanking the countries that voted against the resolution, first and foremost "Italy, the first European state that announced its opposition to it."

"For the first time at UNESCO more countries opposed and abstained than supported, and that is of course important."

Also Wednesday, the Israeli foreign ministry summoned Swedish ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser and reprimanded him over Stockholm's support of the UNESCO resolution. 

Senior ministry officials expressed their "bitter disappointment" over the vote in their talk with Nesser, noting Sweden's "systematic voting" pattern against Israel, a statement read.

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