UNESCO Board Votes Unanimous Resolution Accusing Israel of Violating Cultural Pact

Israel stands accused by 26 nations of violating international agreements on the protection of archaeological treasures of the Holy Land. In a 26-0 vote, the board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization called on Israel to preserve scrupulously all sites, buildings and other cultural properties, especially in the Old City of Jerusalem. Four members — the United States, Britain, Canada and Nigeria — abstained after a bitter Israeli-Jordanian three-day debate on the ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other relics.

Russia, France, Asian, Latin American and African nations voted for a resolution which expressed the UNESCO’s board’s “deep concern at the violations by Israel” of the Hague convention for protection of cultural property in time of war. Israel did not vote. The resolution asked Israel to desist from Old City excavations and not to change the sector’s “cultural and historical character.”

In another move, the UNESCO board also voted 27-4 that school textbooks for Arab refugee children to which Israel objects are “not suitable” for UN schools. It called upon the Government of Israel “to remove immediately any obstacles to the import and use of textbooks approved” for use in occupied territories schools run by UNESCO and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA).

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