UNESCO passes anti-Israeli resolution, yet Israeli officials view shift of votes as positive trend

The United Nations’ World Heritage Body, UNESCO, passed a resolution on Jerusalem which its authors, including Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Algeria and Sudan, claimed that it aims to “safeguard the cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem,” while reaffirming that all legal and administrative decisions taken by Israel concerning the status of the city were “null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.” 
The resolution, which is renewed periodically, passed with 22 votes in favor, among them Sweden, Russia and China, and 10 against, among them the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Lithuania, and with 23 abstentions, among them France, Estonia and Spain, and three absentees out of the body’s 58 member states. Despite the fact that the anti-Israeli resolution was passed by UNESCO, officials in Jerusalem are pleased by the shifting trend in the resolution, since fewer states voted against the Jewish state as opposed to previous resolutions.
In a special Independence Day ceremony for foreign diplomats in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that there were more member states of the Heritage Body that voted against or abstained the vote, than countries that voted in favor of the anti-Israeli resolution; that said, Netanyahu stressed that even though the resolution is softer than previous attempts to revoke the attachment of the Jewish people to Jerusalem, his goal is to assure that UNESCO halts all of its ‘absurd’ votes against the Jewish state.
“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.” “Last year UNESCO said that the Jewish people have no connection to the Temple Mount. can you imagine. They said that. We had three thousand years ago Salomon built his temple there. The 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 monetary in the Himalia’s, 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 they didn’t say that, it is important in the march of absurdity, they also said that Judaism too has some connection to Jerusalem. We are making progress, but there is still a way to go, and the way we have to go is in fact to cut out this nonsense,” said Netanyahu.
At the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Israel’s ambassador lashed out at Arab member states of the UN’s Heritage Body, accusing them of politicizing the organization which he said is not supposed to deal with these kinds of issues.
“There is no need that UNESCO will be involved in any political issue. The place for political issues and for conflicts is in the U.N. in New York and the Arab Group and the Palestinians should go there and leave UNESCO to deal with its mandate. Its mandate is about other stories, just positive ones. And we offered more than one time to the Palestinians and to other neighbors of us, let’s do some positive projects together, let’s do something that can build trust, a minimum of trust, but unfortunately there is no answer from the other side,” said Carmel Shama-HaCohen, Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO.
Israel’s ability to persuade members of UNESCO to refrain from voting on the resolution or vote against it has discouraged the Palestinians, with the permanent delegate of the Palestinian Authority to UNESCO asserting he has never experienced the strong pressure the Jewish state applied on countries in the international body.
“Our resolution was voted despite… I’ve been at UNESCO for 12 years, I have never been witness to such a policy of pressure on the member states. I’m telling you this in all honesty and objectivity, I have never lived through such a time of pressure and blackmail on a certain number of countries,” said Elias Sanbar, Palestinian Ambassador to UNESCO & Permanent Delegate.