UNITED NATIONS – Israel welcomed on Thursday the United States’ decision to leave the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, saying there were now consequences for unfair resolutions affecting the Jewish state.
“Today is a new day at the UN, where there is a price to pay for discrimination against Israel,” said Danny Danon, that nation’s ambassador to the global body.
“UNESCO has become a battlefield for Israel-bashing and has disregarded its true role and purpose,” Danon said.
The US announced on Thursday its exit from UNESCO, saying that agency had shown an “anti-Israel bias” and also citing the need for “fundamental reform” and “mounting arrears” at that world-heritage organization.
The UN agency has approved several resolutions in recent years that have rankled Israel, including texts that that country says deny Jewish links to the Temple Mount religious site in Jerusalem, (known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif).
That complex is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest site in Islam.
In addition, UNESCO in July declared the old city of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank as an endangered Palestinian World Heritage site.
That old city includes a holy site that is known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque and to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the July 7 vote and also said his country would reduce its funding to the UN by $1 million.
“This time they decided that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is a Palestinian site, meaning not Jewish, and that it’s in danger. Not a Jewish site? Who’s buried there – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. Our fathers and mothers. And the site is in danger? Only where Israel rules, like Hebron, is freedom of religion guaranteed for all,” Netanyahu said.
Since Trump’s arrival at the White House in January, the US has very clearly aligned with Israel at the UN, repeatedly denouncing alleged bias within the organization against its close ally.
“The United States stands by Israel and is a true leader for change at the UN,” Danon said, adding that “the alliance between our two countries is stronger than ever.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres joined UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova on Thursday in lamenting the US decision to leave the world-heritage organization.
Bokova said the move was a loss for multilateralism, while Guterres said through his spokesman that the decision was deeply regrettable.