April 14, 2024
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Netanyahu: US Moves Gave Israel Political Backing to Leave UNESCO

Prime Minister Netanyahu defended his decision Sunday to withdraw Israel from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) because of the organization’s anti-Israel bias.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said vocal support from the United States, including President Trump’s decision in October to withdraw from UNESCO over the group’s anti-Israel agenda—as well as a large financial debt to Washington—gave Israel the political cover to move against UNESCO’s “biased, one-sided and absurd attitude toward us.”

Israel has clashed with UNESCO several times in recent months. In July, the organization’s World Heritage Council accepted a Palestinian request to list the Old City of Hebron, including the Cave of the Patriarchs, as a Palestinian world heritage site. The same month, the Council referred to Israel as “the occupying power” in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Friday, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, the Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO, applauded the decision, slamming UNESCO’s “theater of the absurd” and saying the organization incites and lies about Israel and the Jewish people.

“UNESCO, led by the Arab countries and the rest of the depressed, frustrated and dark world parts of the world, has broken records of hypocrisy, incitement and lies against Israel and the Jewish people, while polluting its noble values in politicization and political terrorism that sometimes bordered on anti-Semitism,” he stated.

“The state of Israel and the Jewish people as those who have always symbolized the innovation and leadership in the core subjects of UNESCO—science, education, and culture—are supposed to be the first to contribute to the organization and its activities and the [last] to leave, but in the UNESCO theater of the absurd, countries with no connection to science, education and culture have bankrupted this important organization both professionally and budgetarily so that reformed countries and communities have nothing to find in it.”

Shama-Hacohen added that ironically, UNESCO’s attacks on Israel’s legitimacy in Israel had roiled the international Jewish community, especially American Jews, which led to President Trump’s historic declarations, first to leave the organization and more recently to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Shama-Hacohen will submit Israel’s letter of withdrawal immediately after the Christmas holidays, and it will take effect at the end of 2018.

By Mara Vigevani/TPS

 

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