Published: Wed, May 03, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Israel to withhold $1M in funding after UNESCO vote

Other Israeli officials also criticised UNESCO for holding the vote on Israel's Independence Day.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Tuesday adopted a resolution which urges Israel to open and facilitate access to the Gaza Strip for humanitarian organizations.

The resolution, which is renewed periodically, passed with 22 votes for and 10 against with 23 abstentions and three absentees out of 58 member states.

The low numbers in the vote disavowing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem on the country's birthday represent a diplomatic victory for Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Israeli sources say Italy is the only country that has decided not to support the resolution.

In Tuesday's resolution, the United Nations agency calls on Israel to cease "persistent excavations, tunneling, works and projects" in East Jerusalem, particularly the walled Old City, which is home to sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

"But it will never be taken for granted", Rivlin said "We would not be standing here celebrating together if not for the support of the worldwide community or its recognition for the right of the Jewish people to return to our historical homeland and establish a national home - a home that has Jerusalem at its heart".

The United Nation's cultural agency passed on Tuesday a resolution denouncing Israeli excavations in Jerusalem as a violation of worldwide law.

"UNESCO's decision is weird", said Netanyahu, "and this harrassment has a price".

The majority of the 58-member UNESCO Executive Board voted on a Palestinian-Arab draft resolution, which stated that Jerusalem's Old City is "entirely Palestinian" and described Israel as an "occupying power" that has no sovereignty over the city. "It took Hamas 30 years to come out with our same position", by accepting the idea of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 border. "Jews refer to the site as the Temple Mount".

Netanyahu, however, noted the "silver lining" of Tuesday's vote, which he said saw more states supporting Israel's position than in previous similar resolutions.

Israel claims Jerusalem is its capital following its capture in the 1967 Six-Day War, however most of the global community say it is occupied territory.

Israel's Foreign Ministry says Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser was summoned Wednesday after Sweden was the only European country to vote for a UNESCO resolution criticizing Israeli excavations in east Jerusalem as a violation of worldwide law. Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano denounced the vote as "another politicized resolution on Jerusalem".

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