Israel Criticizes UN Cultural Agency Resolution on 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.

UNESCO's Executive Board on Tuesday - Israel's Independence Day - passed the resolution with 22 countries in favor, 23 abstentions, 10 opposed, and the representatives of three countries absent.

The United States, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Lithuania, Greece, Paraguay, Ukraine and Togo opposed the resolution.

Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, wearing the country's flag around his shoulders, said Israel will stay in its eternal capital despite the resolution's approval.

"This cynical move must be recognized for what it is: a distorted, unsafe and illegitimate revision of history, which serves only as bait for adversaries of Israel seeking to strip the Jewish people's right to self-determination and deny its historic and religious link to Jerusalem".

An Israeli official said Wednesday's cut was the third time in recent months Israel reduced its United Nations budget, putting the 2017 payments at $3.7 instead of the original $11 million.

"We're making progress", he said. The resolution also affirms previous UNESCO resolutions that "denied the connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem", the Israeli statement lamented.

In response, Netanyahu described the resolution as "bizarre", adding that "this harassment has a price".

The resolution has garnered European support after an original version of the draft, submitted on behalf of the Palestinians by a number of the body's Arab member states, was softened. Since a law mandating a move of the embassy to Jerusalem was passed by Congress in the mid-1990s, all U.S. presidents have signed a waiver postponing the law's implementation every six months, citing national security reasons.

"The Palestinian leadership and their allies have consistently abused UNESCO as a forum to censure Israel, including on Israel'sIndependence Day today", said AJC CEO David Harris.

ISESCO called on the UNESCO to continue its support of the inalienable rights of the Palestinians through its decisions and resolutions.

"Our opinion is very clear: UNESCO can't become the headquarters of a permanent ideological clash in which questions are faced for which the solutions are supposed to be handled in other headquarters", Alfano was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA.

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