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UNESCO condemns Israeli activity in East Jerusalem

Cuban envoy calls for a minute's silence in support of Palestinian victims of Israeli occupation

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee yesterday condemned Israel’s occupation activity in East Jerusalem.

The Jordanian-sponsored resolution called Israel the “occupying power” and said that the UN “regrets the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunnelling, works, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law,” the Times of Israel reported, citing the resolution.

Israeli officials reacted angrily to the vote with the Foreign Ministry stating: “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people, and no decision by UNESCO can change that reality.”

Read: UNESCO to vote on adding Ibrahimi Mosque to World Heritage list

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin panned UNESCO as “detached from reality” and said Israel would not halt excavations or other activity in the Old City.

The United States, which is not a member of the World Heritage Committee, deemed the resolution “one sided” adding that it would “obstruct progress in the region”.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement welcomed the vote. Fatah spokesman in Europe, Jamal Nazzal, said it was “historic justice” and was “another reflection of the international position which opposes Israeli policy, and of our position which rejects recognising Jerusalem as the capital of the occupation.”

The resolution, was a softened version of the original text, reportedly due to pressure exerted by the US and Israel.

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During the meeting in Krakow, Poland, ten countries voted in favour, eight abstained and three opposed the resolution, namely from Jamaica, the Philippines and Burkina Faso.

The UNESCO World Heritage Council is also expected to vote Friday on a resolution which would declare the Old City of Hebron a Palestinian “World Heritage Site in danger.”

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