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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Israel and UNESCO: A New Era Has Not Yet Arrived

Filed under: Israel, Jerusalem, U.S. Policy

Israel and UNESCO: A New Era Has Not Yet Arrived

UNESCO yet again adopted an outrageous resolution defining Israeli activity in east Jerusalem as illegal and referring to the Temple Mount as a “Muslim site of worship.” True, ten states voted for the resolution, but taking together the eight states that abstained with the three states that opposed the resolution, more states (11) refused to back the anti-Israel initiative this time than the number that were prepared to lend their support (10).

Among the states abstaining were significant African states like Angola and Tanzania. Burkina Faso opposed the resolution outright. The voting pattern of these states demonstrates the importance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to expand Israeli ties in Africa. Tanzania participated in the summit meeting Netanyahu held in Uganda last July commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Entebbe raid. This time, not a single European state backed the resolution.

There are states that should be the focus of Israeli and U.S. diplomacy in the future. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan supported the UNESCO resolution despite Israeli efforts toward these countries. Cuba also backed the resolution, though it has been trying to improve its relations with Washington. Surprisingly, Vietnam, which has been improving economic ties with Israel, along with the other Asian economic “tigers,” went along with the initiative. The visit of Prime Minister Modi to Israel at the time of the vote symbolized the kinds of changes in Israel’s international relations that should help defeat these anti-Israel moves in years ahead.