Israel Jerusalem

Israel called a UNESCO resolution passed on Israel Independence Day, which rejects Israeli sovereignty and jurisdiction over Jerusalem, “fake history” and “absurd.” 

The Israeli leadership dismissed a resolution by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) executive board that rejects Israeli sovereignty and jurisdiction over Jerusalem.

The resolution, passed on Tuesday, as Israel celebrated Independence Day, or Yom Ha’atzmaut, refers to the Jewish state as an occupying power in Jerusalem and declares all its legislative and administrative measures in the city as “null and void.”

A majority of 22 states voted in favor, 10 voted against and 23 abstained.

While the overall outcome was negative for Israel, the vote marked a shift from the near-unanimous approval seen in previous anti-Israel UNESCO votes on Jerusalem, with 23 member states abstaining and 10 – the US, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Greece, Paraguay, Ukraine, Togo and Germany – opposing.

‘We Don’t Need UNESCO’s Approval’

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the resolution “absurd.”

“We have become used to the concept of ‘fake news’. Well, welcome to ‘fake history’. UNESCO has long been politicized and unfortunately has become a tool in the service of Palestinian propaganda against Israel,” she stated. “Such absurd and historically baseless resolutions undermine UNESCO’s mission of safeguarding humanity’s cultural heritage.”

“We, as Israelis, don’t need UNESCO’s approval of our history in our land,” she stressed.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said that the “biased and blatantly deceitful decision, and the attempts to dispute the connection between Israel and Jerusalem, will not change the simple fact that this city is the historic and eternal capital of the Jewish people. Israel will not stand silently by in the face of this shameful resolution.”

Speaking at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, at an Independence Day reception for the foreign diplomatic corps, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the resolution, while taking pride in Israel’s diplomatic achievements.

“There are more countries today that are abstaining or supporting Israel than there are those opposing Israel. But my goal is to have no votes in UNESCO on Israel,” he stated.

Relating to another anti-Israel vote by UNESCO from last October, which stated that the Jewish people have no connection to the Temple Mount, Netanyahu said, “Can you imagine? … Three thousand years ago Solomon built his temple there. This is the same temple that Herod… that was rebuilt by the Exiles of Babylon coming back here with the Proclamation of Cyrus the Great; it’s the same temple that Jesus visited when he overturned the money changers’ tables – he didn’t do this in a monastery in the Himalayas. He did it in the Jewish Temple here. And UNESCO said a year ago that we have no connection to the Temple Mount.”

This year’s UNESCO resolution did not say that, and Netanyahu saw this as “an improvement in the march of absurdity. We’re making progress. But there’s still a way to go and the way we have to go is in fact to cut out this nonsense.”

He called on the countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem, “the eternal capital of Israel for 3,000 years.”

Move Embassies to Israel’s Capital

At the reception, President Reuven Rivlin stated, “Jerusalem has always been the center of the Jewish world. The place we have prayed towards for thousands of years. There was never any doubt that Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel. And 50 years ago, we returned to the Old City of Jerusalem, we united the whole city under Israeli sovereignty. We felt then, that the dream of Jerusalem as the physical and spiritual capital of Israel had finally become a reality.”

“Dear friends, for 70 years you have been coming here to Jerusalem to take part in official events; at the Israeli parliament, with the Presidents of Israel, with the Prime Ministers of Israel, and many with others.” He noted, “Most of you are younger than me. You were born to the fact of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. You know no other reality. Since the days of King David, there was not, there is not, and there never will be any other reality. It is time to put an end to the absurd. It is time to recognize Jerusalem, as the official capital of the State of Israel. De Facto, not just De Jure. It is time to move all the official embassies here. To Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat stated he was “outraged” by the UNESCO resolution.

“Several weeks ago, I hosted a delegation of UNESCO ambassadors on a tour of the City of David. With a Bible in our hands, we walked on the very stones where kings and prophets walked 3,000 years ago. We saw the undeniable connection between Jewish history in the city of Jerusalem and the words of the Bible- a connection that is indisputable,” he stated.

He added that the UNESCO resolution “demonstrates once again the ludicrous and anti-Israel nature of the organization. Rather than support Jerusalem, they choose to side with our enemies.”

Israel’s response is to “continue to develop and advance the city of Jerusalem, the eternal home and capital of the Jewish people…

“We will not allow these unfounded declarations to discourage us from our mission – protecting Jerusalem’s 3,000 years of history while leading Jerusalem into the future. Happy Independence Day to the State of Israel and to Jerusalem, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification,” he declared.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel