Israel recalling UNESCO envoy following new resolution denying Jewish holy sites


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel is recalling its ambassador to UNESCO to Jerusalem for consultations in the wake of the adoption of a second resolution that denies Jewish ties to Jerusalem holy sites.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a public announcement on Wednesday night.

“The theater of the absurd continues, and so I decided to recall our ambassador to UNESCO back to Israel for consultations,” Netanyahu said at an event at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

The recall will allow the government to reconsider its ties to the U.N. cultural agency.

“This is a necessary step,” the envoy, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, told The Times of Israel. “The motive is the need to rethink and reevaluate our relations with UNESCO given the persistent persecution of Israel and the Jewish people.”

On Wednesday, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO adopted a resolution in Paris that ignores Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. The vote by secret ballot came two weeks after a similar resolution passed by the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization also denying a Jewish connection to the Western Wall and other Jewish holy sites.

Shama-Hacohen had worked to make sure Wednesday’s resolution was voted on and not just adopted by consensus, as desired by the proposal’s authors, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

The resolution was submitted by Lebanon and Tunisia on behalf of Jordan and the Palestinians. Jordan and the Palestinian Authority reportedly had threatened to make the language more contentious and strengthen the Muslim claim to the Temple Mount in the resolution if it was not approved by a consensus vote, but Tanzania and Croatia requested the secret ballot.

“This is yet another absurd resolution against the State of Israel, the Jewish people and historical truth,” Shama-Hacohen said in a statement following the vote.

“The absurdity continues, and UNESCO has adopted yet another ridiculous decision that is completely disconnected from reality. UNESCO embarrassed itself by marching to the tune of the Palestinian pipers. All attempts to deny our heritage, distort history and disconnect the Jewish people from our capital and our homeland are doomed to fail.”

During his statement, Shama-Hacohen threw a copy of the resolution into a trash can marked “history.”

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