The Palestinians, with the aid of Arab member states, have successfully passed a resolution condemning Israel’s activity in East Jerusalem in UNESCO. Palestinians and Israelis are now preparing for the next battle, this time over Hebron’s status as a World Heritage City.

Israel at UNESCO

Israel at UNESCO Photo Credit: Serge Attal, Flash 90/ Channel 2 News

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has once again adopted a resolution condemning Israel. In October 2016, the organization approved a controversial resolution that cast a doubt on the Jewish people’s connection to the Western Wall. Tonight, the proposal originally presented at the World Heritage Conference and submitted by the Arab states on behalf of the Palestinians, will undoubtedly create a similar uproar to that of the 2016 resolution. 

This time, at least, the terminology does not only refer to Jerusalem’s holy sites by their Muslim names: The new resolution uses the same wording used during the last vote but with no mention of Al-Aqsa, Haram al-Sharif or Buraq Plaza. The resolution does include a nod to the other religions who hold Jerusalem dear, referring to “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls for the three monotheistic religions.”

The resolution reiterated that the organization “regrets the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works and projects in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law” and calls on Israel to accede to the organization’s request and appoint a permanent representative in East Jerusalem.

At the culmination of Israel’s diplomatic ongoing struggle since May, 10 countries supported the proposal, 3 opposed and 8 abstained. Israel’s ambassador to the OECD, Carmel Shama HaCohen said in response to the vote that it was a moral victory for Israel: “More countries sympathize with an Israel that will not tolerate any persecution or any political decisions against it and against the Jewish people, even if they are increasingly softened from vote to vote.” Shama Hacohen emphasized that the wording of the decision is softened compared to last year, particularly considering its omission of any mention of the Temple Mount.