An Arab UNESCO envoy has apologised to his Israeli counterpart Carmel Shama-Hacohen for being unable to vote against a Palestinian motion in favour of Hebron's Old City becoming a Palestinian World Heritage Site, Israeli news website Ynet News revealed yesterday.
On Friday 12 UNESCO members voted in favour of the motion to award the city endangered status and recognise it as a Palestinian area and three voted against. There were six abstentions.
Israel is furious with the decision. Following the vote Shama-Hacohen questioned why the committee did not conduct a secret ballot before declaring: "There is a huge problem with my toilet and it is much more important than the decision you just adopted."
The Arab ambassador was unable to vote against the motion because the vote was not secret – a condition of his yes vote – reported Ynet News, adding that it was likely the unidentified envoy had promised his Israeli counterpart to vote against the motion.
A screenshot published by Ynet News from Ambassador Shama-Hacohen's phone revealed the following conversation:
"Sorry for today, it was too heated, it is difficult to say it was a secret vote…" the Arab ambassador said. "No choice…"
The Israeli ambassador replied: "I know my friend. For me, it is like u did it."