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UNESCO World Heritage Committee Moving to Deny Israeli Sovereignty over Jerusalem, Ajcommittee Repor

The American Jewish Committee has warned community leaders here and abroad against an attempt in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to deny Israel sovereignty over Jerusalem. If successful, the AJCommittee asserted, the Arab-initiated scheme “would cast disrepute on the World Heritage Committee as it lends itself to patent political purposes.”

According to the AJCommittee, members of the World Heritage Committee have promoted an extra ordinary session in September in order to have Jordan nominate the Old City of Jerusalem as part of “the cultural heritage of mankind meriting protection and conservation.” Because the UNESCO Convention emphasizes that the primary role in identifying and conserving any part of mankind’s cultural heritage belongs to the state on whose territory this is located,” the AJCommittee stated, “approval of Jordan as a nominee for Jerusalem’s Old City is, in effect, to deny that this is Israeli territory.”

The entire move, according to the AJCommittee, is contrary to the purpose for which the Convention came into being. Jordan, it stated, is in no position to undertake any preservation or conservation of the Old City of Jerusalem since this is now under effective Israeli jurisdiction and control.

Urging the community leaders to help defeat the proposal, the AJCommittee described it as “an expensive international farce under UNESCO auspices which can only cast disrepute on the World Heritage Committee as it lends itself to patent political purposes rather than concentrating on its proper task.”

Preliminary soundings, the AJCommittee noted, indicate that several non-Arab and Western states on the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, including Australia, which hold a vice-chairmanship, will go along with the Jordanian proposal. The states currently on the World Heritage Committee that will be voting on the Jordanian nomination are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Cyprus, Egypt, France, West Germany, Guinea, Iraq, Italy, Libya, Nepal, Pakistan, Panama, and the United States.