UNESCO chair hopes for delayed vote on Jerusalem resolution, calls for more dialogue

Josefin Dolsten

(JTA) — The chairman of UNESCO’s executive board said he hoped for a delay of a full vote on a controversial resolution that seemed to reject Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

“We need more time and dialogue between the members of the board to reach a consensus,” Michael Worbs told the French news agency AFP.

UNESCO — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — at its executive board meeting Thursday in Paris passed the Palestinian-backed measure with 24 votes in favor and 6 against, with 26 countries abstaining.

The resolution referred to holy sites in Jerusalem only by their Islamic names, appearing to deny Jewish historical connections to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

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The resolution was expected to go to a full vote on Tuesday, but Worbs indicated to AFP that he hoped it would be delayed.

“For 40 years, UNESCO has always managed to find consensual decisions on the Middle East,” he said. “But since autumn 2010 it has become more and more difficult.”

U.S. and Israeli politicians have slammed the resolution, with Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett saying the country would suspend its cooperation with UNESCO.

Also Friday, UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova, seemed to express a different view from that expressed in the resolution.

“To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list [in 1981],” Bokova said.

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