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UNESCO Board Condemns Israel

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s executive board tonight condemned Israel for “serious violations of human rights,” in Lebanon and decided to send a special mission to assess the damages sustained by Palestinian and Lebanese educational and cultural facilities during the fighting in Lebanon.

The resolution also condemned Israel for having “carried out large-scale arrests” of Lebanese students and teachers and of having “tried to erase” Palestinian cultural heritage. The resolution called on the international community to provide at least $39 million to rebuild the institutions.

Only two countries of the 39-member executive board, the United States and Costa Rica, voted against the resolution sponsored by 16 Arab and non-aligned nations. Guatemala abstained. All West European countries sitting on the board voted in favor.

Israeli diplomats fear that today’s resolution, passed with considerable ease in spite of strong American pressure, is the start of a move to have Israel expelled or at least stripped of its credentials at UNESCO’s forthcoming general conference next month. West European delegates said today that they would not vote in favor of such a move.

But Israeli and American diplomats, working hand in hand, expressed serious misgivings. Last month the Vienna-based International Atomic Agency stripped the Israeli delegation of its credentials.

Meanwhile, UNESCO’s executive board voted overwhelmingly yesterday to reject an attempt by India to have the International Council of B’nai B’rith stripped of its credentials as a recognized non-governmental observer. It was the first time in recent years that an anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli resolution failed to obtain a UNESCO majority.

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