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Israel Foreign Ministry to reject call to remove UN from Jerusalem headquarters

The Dome of The Rock is a UNESCO heritage site situated in Jerusalem's Old City
AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP/File)
The move would be a violation of Israel’s signed agreement with the UN and 'international treaties'

Despite a call from Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev to expel the United Nations’ Jerusalem headquarters from the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, the Foreign Ministry is reportedly opposed to the move for diplomatic reasons, according to a senior official, Haaretz reported on Sunday.

The official told the publication that in the ministry’s “professional opinion” the move would be a violation of Israel’s signed agreement with the UN and “international treaties according to which the UN headquarters enjoys diplomatic immunity.”

“There are agreements and we cannot violate them,” the official continued. “The only way to expel the UN headquarters from the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood is if the UN decides to vacate it on its own accord."

Regev's defense was that the UN was given use of the location solely for the purpose of supervising the cease-fire after the Six-Day War and that now, "there is no need for it." 

"The use by the Israeli government of the decision of July 11, 1967, only for the purpose of supervising the cease-fire, is the end of the Mandate, and therefore the use of the land and structure belonging to the State of Israel should end," she said in a weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, noting that Israel is reaching the 50-year mark since its liberation and unification of the city. 

"The statement that there is complete immunity even for the appropriation of dozens of additional dunams, which were never given for use by the UN and for massive building violations taking place there is a baseless position."

Ynet

She also argued that the UN representatives promoted pro-Palestinian projects which include monitoring of Jewish settlements and ongoing contact with Hamas, "for which Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently recommended to boycott Maldanov, who heads the organization. 

Regev raised the issue demanding to expel the UN headquarters in the wake of a UNESCO (the UN's cultural agency) vote last week that passed a resolution criticizing Israeli policy in Jerusalem. The text of the resolution alarmed many Israeli politicians and raised concerns that it challenges Israel's sovereignty over any part of the ancient city.

She also argued that the UN representatives promoted pro-Palestinian projects which include monitoring of Jewish settlements and ongoing contact with Hamas, "for which Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently recommended to boycott Maldanov, who heads the organization. 

Regev first raised the issue demanding to expel the UN headquarters in the wake of a UNESCO (the UN's cultural agency) vote last week that passed a resolution criticizing Israeli policy in Jerusalem. The text of the resolution alarmed many Israeli politicians and raised concerns that it challenges Israel's sovereignty over any part of the ancient city.

Karim Sahib (AFP)

The government is expected to discuss the resolution also on Sunday, reported Haaretz.

According to Haaretz, Regev’s reasoning to remove the UN headquarters from its Jerusalem site is unclear as it does not represent any UNESCO representatives and is an entirely different organization.

The foreign ministry is said to emphasize the fact that those responsible for the UNESCO draft were member-states of the organization, but not the organization itself. In fact, UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova, opposed the draft.

The resolution, up for vote on May 1, was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, on behalf of the Palestinians.

It is not the first time that a UNESCO resolution has refused to recognize Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem, but it is the first time Arab states have challenged its rule in the city's west, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The status of Jerusalem is a contentious issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel has declared the entire city as its capital.

Twenty-two countries voted in favor of the UNESCO resolution, while 10 voted against it, with 26 countries abstaining or being absent.

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 referred 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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To find out from President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Amb. Dore Gold how UNESCO has been distorting history and deceiving the international community, click here: http://jcpa.org/video/abbas-unesco-test-diplomacy/

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