WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel’s foreign minister thanked Hillary Rodham Clinton for removing items critical of Israel from UNESCO’s agenda.
The United States’ “strong and consistent position,” Avigdor Lieberman wrote in an April 25 letter to the U.S. secretary of state, “prevented the introduction of five anti-Israel resolutions initiated by the Arab group” of states in the U.N. agency.
It’s not clear what resolutions Lieberman was referring to, but Arab states in recent months have criticized Israel for allowing the building of a tolerance museum over part of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem and for earmarking funds for preserving holy Jewish sites in the West Bank.
Israel works closely with UNESCO, the United Nations culture and science arm and one of the few international bodies that has shown favor to the Jewish state, to help preserve heritage sites.
“There is clearly widespread rejection in the organization of all attempts to politicize its work,” Lieberman wrote, “and your delegation skillfully tapped this sentiment.”
The letter also was an indication of warming U.S.-Israel ties in the wake of tensions over Israel’s announcement recently of plans to build new housing in eastern Jerusalem.
Lieberman is a hard-liner when it comes to such plans, but went out of his way in the letter to stress the closeness of U.S.-Israel relations.
”Your position proves to us and to the world once again how strong and stalwart the ties are between our countries and peoples,” he said.