Israel Loses Bid for UNESCO Board but Increases Popularity in Group

Israel lost its latest bid for membership on the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization here Saturday, but nevertheless got more favorable votes than it had in years.

Israel “lost honorably,” said Eliezer Palmor, its newly appointed ambassador to UNESCO. “This election was a test case,” he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“We lacked the time to prepare the ground-work as it should have been, but the fact that we obtained 43 votes out of 150 is a very pleasant surprise. We lost honorably,” the envoy said.

According to diplomatic sources here, several European countries joined the Arab states and their allies in opposing Israel. France, Denmark and Portugal were among them, the sources said.

The Executive Board is a 51-member panel that prepares the program to be submitted to UNESCO’s General Conference and supervises its execution.

The last time Israel had a seat on the board was in 1971, when it was represented by Ambassador Moshe Avidor.

The Paris-based UNESCO has been a notoriously anti-Israel, anti-Western forum in past years. The United States, which accounts for 25 percent of its budget, walked out in protest in 1984 but has since returned.

Palmor believes the attitude toward Israel has changed in recent months. Even the Moslem countries refrain from repeatedly attacking Israel, he said. “The only exception is Iran.”

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