Israel to withhold $1 million to United Nations in wake of UNESCO vote


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel will withhold $1 million in funds that it gives to the United Nations following the passage of a resolution that condemns Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday, a day after the vote by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, that he has instructed Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem to deduct $1 million from the funds that Israel transfers to the United Nations. He called the resolution “delusional.”

“Israel will not sit by while the organization calls for the denial of our sovereignty in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said Wednesday at the start of a Cabinet meeting.

The resolution, passed Tuesday, while Israel was celebrating its Independence Day, calls on Israel to rescind any “legislative and administrative measures and actions” it has taken to “alter the character and status” of Jerusalem. It rejects the idea of a “basic law” in Jerusalem, based off of a 1980 Knesset law, which implies that the city is one unified whole and governed solely by Israel.

Submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, the resolution also sharply criticizes Israel’s construction in eastern Jerusalem’s Old City and “deplores” the Jewish state’s “continuous” closure of the Gaza Strip.

It follows a highly controversial UNESCO resolution passed last October that ignored Jewish ties to the Western Wall and Temple Mount sites.

Netanyahu noted during Wednesday’s meeting that more countries opposed the resolution passed Tuesday than the one passed last year and that fewer countries supported it.

“For the first time in UNESCO, more countries voted to oppose or abstained than voted in favor, and of course this is important,” Netanyahu said.

He singled out the United States for voting against the resolution; in December as one of the Obama administration’s last acts, the U.S. abstained from a U.N. Security Council resolution which condemned Israeli settlements.

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