UNESCO vote on Jerusalem enrages occupying power

A Palestinian woman gestures towards cracks in a wall at her home in the Old City of Jerusalem, caused by excavations carried out by Israeli occupation authorities, endangering homes in the area.

Saeed Qaq APA images

Israel will withhold another $1 million to the United Nations in retaliation for the passage of a UNESCO resolution that criticizes its actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The UN cultural and scientific organization passed a resolution on 2 May that calls Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem “null and void” and calls on Israel to cancel any “legislative and administrative measures and actions” taken to “alter the character and status” of the city.

Calling Israel the “occupying power,” the resolution demands Israel halt “persistent excavations, tunnelling, works and projects in East Jerusalem.”

Targeting al-Aqsa

The city’s al-Aqsa mosque compound, atop what Jews call the Temple Mount, has long been the target of Israeli government-backed extremist groups whose declared aim is to destroy the existing Muslim holy sites and replace them with a Jewish temple.

Under the guise of “archaeological” excavations, Israel also allows settler groups to exploit and profit from sites in occupied East Jerusalem.

The UNESCO resolution was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan.

Twenty-two countries voted in favor and 23 abstained, including France and Spain.

Sweden was the only Western country to back the resolution. The United States, Germany, United Kingdom and Italy were among the minority of members that voted against it.

“We will defend our heritage and culture, our past and our future,” Palestinian Authority foreign minister Riad Malki said, welcoming the resolution’s passage.

Israel’s false claims

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the resolution “delusional” and “bizarre.”

“Israel will not sit by while the organization calls for the denial of our sovereignty in Jerusalem,” he added.

The resolution “will not affect our determination to operate in Jerusalem,” Israel’s foreign ministry said.

But Israel’s efforts to portray the resolution’s language as outrageous and out of line with international norms are belied by a long record of decisions it has flouted for decades with impunity.

Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, which it militarily occupied in 1967, has been rejected as illegal by the UN Security Council and other world bodies.

No government keeps an embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, because none formally recognizes its sovereignty claims there.

The illegality of Israel’s colonization of the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was reaffirmed in a resolution adopted by the UN Security Council last December.

In 2016, Israel paid nearly $12 million in UN membership fees, which are calculated based on a country’s size. But over the last year, Israel has made repeated slashes in response to critical resolutions.

It cut $2 million at the end of March, following a UN Human Rights Council decision condemning its settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Prior to that, Israel cut $6 million after the Security Council passed its resolution against settlements.

Last October, Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO after the organization adopted a resolution denouncing its aggressive actions in and around the al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The uproar at the time was based on Israel’s false claim that the resolution denied a Jewish connection to the historical site, which includes the Western Wall, but there was no language in the motion suggesting such denial.

Israel’s misinformation campaign, then as now, was aimed at asserting sovereignty over the occupied city.




israel's cutting UN contributions is a "good" thing in that, sooner or later, the UN will have to decide whether to abide by its own rules, i.e to kick the country out as a member if it is in arrears for a set period of time, or to flout its own rules.
Kicking out the rogue country will be blocked by the US, but it will publicly expose 1 more of israel's arrogant unilateral defiances of international law.


Though not a lawyer (much less an international lawyer), the words in the
UN Charter are weak on expelling a Member State. Please provide
bases and possibility/probability of passing. (Would the
Security Council be involved ---with veto???)

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA


Like you I am not a lawyer, but from what I understand if the arrears are more than a country's required contributions of 2 years, then the country loses its voting rights. So it will not get "kicked out", that was a misplaced comment, unfortunately. But in the case of israel, 1 of the "exceptional" members, I personally believe the US will not allow it to lose its voting rights. Nevertheless, such a situation would expose 1 more aspect of israel's arrogance.


"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the resolution 'delusional' and 'bizarre.'

'Israel will not sit by while the organization calls for the denial of our sovereignty in Jerusalem,' he added."

Note: international law is not a delusion. It's real, and it's grounded in principles Israel violates every day. Neither is it bizarre, being as coherent, balanced and reasonable as human minds and institutions can devise. Israel's claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem is blatantly illegal, as are all actions taken to impose that claim. It's on that count that Netanyahu's accusations come to rest in their proper sphere: Israel's violent, spurious exercise of sovereignty over all of Jerusalem is indeed "delusional" and "bizarre", without rational foundation and in defiance of international law.

Now if we can only get some enforcement.

On related note, why do the bylaws of the U.N. allow member nations to withhold funds in retaliation for adverse rulings, publications, etc? How can such a state of affairs produce anything but a toothless organisation? Or am I being naive in raising the question?


The US and othes who voted against the UNESCO resolution will not live down the shame.


Is the plan to build a US embassy in east jerusalem still on the cards? I past the designated site a year or so ago.

Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.