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Netanyahu slams UNESCO for nixing Jews in Israel exhibit

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, for canceling the opening of an exhibition on the Jewish presence in the land of Israel.

“The explanation given was that it would harm the negotiations,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “It would not harm the negotiations. Negotiations are based on facts, on the truth, which is never harmful.”

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova said Jan. 15 in a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center that the exhibit, titled “The People, the Book, the Land — 3,500 years of ties between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel,” would be postponed indefinitely. She said the decision arose out of UNESCO’s support for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“The one-sided approach toward Israel does not advance peace – it pushes peace further away,” Netanyahu said. “It strengthens the refusal of the P.A. to make actual progress in the negotiations.”

He added, “The one-sided and unfair attitude toward the State of Israel does not advance the diplomatic process.”

Complaints by Arab states led the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to cancel the exhibition organized by the Wiesenthal Center along with the governments of Canada and Montenegro. It was scheduled to open Jan. 20 at the Paris UNESCO headquarters.

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