RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Mexico has fired its ambassador to UNESCO, Andre Roemer, who is Jewish, for protesting against his country’s decision to vote for a resolution denying Jewish ties to Jerusalem.
“For not having informed diligently and with meticulousness of the context in which the voting process occurred, for reporting to representatives of countries other than Mexico about the sense of his vote, and for making public documents and official correspondence subject to secrecy,” read the official statement released on Oct. 17.
However, the Latin American country announced it will now change its vote from “in favor” to abstain on the proposal concerning the preservation of cultural heritage and religion in eastern Jerusalem.
“Changing the vote reiterates the recognition that the government of Mexico gives to the undeniable link of the Jewish people to cultural heritage located in East Jerusalem. It also reflects the deep appreciation that this government has for the Jewish community and in particular for their significant contributions to the welfare and economic, social and cultural development of Mexico,” the statement also said.
For the first time since 2010, Mexico will oppose a proposal by the Palestinian-Arab bloc in UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
“Sadly, the ambassador to UNESCO was sacrificed, but it meant a change to the perennial tradition of following the vote of the Latin American bloc, which passed an absurd and biased resolution by a majority,” wrote Jewish Mexican news portal Enlace Judio.
In a personal protest, Roemer walked out of last week’s vote in Paris, leaving his deputy to cast the country’s vote. He also apparently contemplated resigning his post, but was urged not to by Israel’s ambassador Carmel Shama HaCohen, who wrote him a personal letter praising him as a friend of the Jewish state.
UNESCO’s resolution, sponsored by several Arab countries, referred to the Temple Mount and Western Wall — Judaism’s holiest sites — only by their Muslim names, and condemned Israel as “the occupying power” for various actions taken in both places.
Mexico was one of the 24 countries that voted in favor of the resolution. Six nations, including the United States, Germany and Britain, voted against and another 26 abstained.
Following the vote, Israel suspended cooperation with the UN cultural organization. In a letter sent to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett accused the body of ignoring “thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem” and aiding “Islamist terror.”
Bokova herself distanced herself from the resolutions in a statement, saying “nowhere more than in Jerusalem do Jewish, Christian and Muslim heritage and traditions share space.”