Although Israel has been a member of UNESCO since 1949, the relationship between the UN organization and Jerusalem has not always been good. In 1974, the organization changed its attitude toward Israel, accepting the Palestinian Authority as a member, even though it is not a country, and not mentioning Israel when it decided to recognize Jerusalem’s Old City as a World Heritage Site.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been the center of many controversies and adopted several anti-Israel resolutions over the years. Israel has been a member of UNESCO since 1949. However, since 1974, the UN organization has changed its attitude toward Israel, sparking a series of crises and disputes with Jerusalem, the latest being yesterday’s anti-Israel resolution that rejects Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.
However, yesterday’s resolution was not the first time that UNESCO has disappointed Israel. In 1974, UNESCO voted “to withhold assistance from Israel in the fields of education, science and culture because of Israel’s persistent alteration of the historic features of Jerusalem.” In response, the U.S. withheld millions of dollars from the organization until it was finally decided a few years later to abandon this decision against Israel.
After the Palestinian Authority became a member, Israel, the U.S. and Canada decided to suspend their funding for the organization. UNESCO responded by suspending the three countries’ voting privileges in the organization. The crisis was resolved shortly thereafter. In 2016, UNESCO has passed two anti-Israel resolutions.
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