In a surprising break from its traditionally biased agenda, the UN body will not include any Israeli sites on its list World Heritage Sites to be discussed at an upcoming Persian Gulf meeting.
By: World Israel News Staff
When the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee holds its annual meeting in Bahrain in July, it is expected to defer controversial proposals related to the Jewish people’s connection to Jerusalem and Hebron, according to Israel’s UNESCO envoy Carmel Shama-Hacohen.
In discussing the agreement to table issues related to Jerusalem and Hebron, Shama-Hacohen referred to role of “silent understandings and diplomacy,” reported the Jerusalem Post.
Shama-Hacohen will not be present at the meeting, sending instead a small Israeli delegation. The US and European Union will also not send top ambassadors.
“The best way to make change on sensitive issues like the holy places in Jerusalem is through dialogue and understanding, just like the [dialogue] that took place this week when the Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] met with the Jordanian King [Abdullah] in Amman,” Shama-Hacohen said, according to the Post.
In past years, the committee considered resolutions disavowing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and even voted to place portions of Hebron containing Jewish holy sites under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Among the sites the PA would administer under UNESCO’s recommendation is the Tomb of the Patriarchs, one of the holiest places in the Jewish religion.
Both the United States and Israel are expected to withdraw from UNESCO at the end of this year to protest the organization’s anti-Israel bias, particularly with regard to its resolutions on Jerusalem.
Among the UNESCO Executive Board’s other controversial resolutions are those ignoring Jewish and Christian ties to the Temple Mount, which the body refers to only by its Muslim name, “al-Haram al-Sharif.”
Assuming the committee does not introduce controversial anti-Israel resolutions in Bahrain, a year will have passed with no UNESCO votes targeting the Jewish state.
It was reported in the spring that the Palestinians would attempt to claim ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls and sovereignty over the Qumran Caves at UNESCO’s July meeting, which is no longer a possibility according to the Bahrain agreement.