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UNESCO Resolution Condemns Israel

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), yesterday adopted a resolution charging Israel with preventing Arabs in the occupied territories “from freely exercising their inalienable rights to the education and culture necessary to the preservation of their national identity.” The resolution was adopted by the executive board by a vote of 26-1 and 10 abstentions. The U.S. cast the sole negative vote. Israel is not a member of the board.

The resolution, described by Western diplomats as “more moderate than originally expected,” will be placed before the general conference at its next meeting in Nairobi, Kenya this autumn.

The resolution also accused Israel of “hampering efforts by UNESCO’s Director General” in his attempts to carry out a decision taken by the general conference in November 1974 “to exercise full supervision” of schools and other cultural institutions in the occupied territories. The resolution invited the Director General to continue these efforts in cooperation with “all the states involved and with the PLO.” The PLO was granted observer status in November 1974.

The Arab countries apparently agreed to tone down their resolution in order to obtain as many favorable votes as possible. They partially succeeded as Belgium, Italy, France and Japan supported the resolution. It is the first time that usually friendly Belgium voted in favor of an anti-Israeli resolution.

Among those abstaining were West Germany, the United Kingdom, Norway, Chile, Austria, Uruguay, Brazil and Australia. There are 40 members on the executive board which serves as the organization’s steering and managing body.

TOUGHER OFFENSIVE FEARED

The chief Israeli delegate, M. Bar Yaakov, told the delegates that Israel had been deeply hurt by the November 1974 resolutions and that it continues to apply its decision not to cooperate with UNESCO in applying its anti-Israeli resolutions. This declaration was made to explain why Israel has not replied to the UNESCO Director General’s queries prompted by the 1974 Arab-sponsored resolutions.

Bar Yaakov added that almost 100 percent of all children of school age on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip were attending classes. He said Egyptian and Jordanian text books were in use with the exception of 14 which UNESCO had judged anti-Semitic after the Six-Day War. The Israeli delegate stressed that “Israel carries out its responsibilities as defined by international law and will continue to do so.”

Israeli diplomats fear that the Arab states will try to unleash a far tougher offensive at the general conference and call for concrete measures against Israel which only the conference can adopt.

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