(JNS.org/Kol HaBirah Staff) As millions of Israeli and Diaspora Jews marked Israel’s 69th Independence Day, the United Nations cultural body United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted Tuesday to adopt a resolution denying Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.
The resolution — which passed in a 22-10 vote, with 23 abstentions—called Israel an “occupying power” and said any Israeli efforts to assert sovereignty over Jerusalem are “null and must be rescinded forthwith.” Last October, UNESCO had passed two resolutions denying Jerusalem’s Jewish heritage.
The 10 countries voting against the resolution were the U.S., UK, Italy, Netherlands, Lithuania, Greece, Paraguay, Ukraine, Togo, and Germany. Among those voting in favor of the measure were Brazil, China, Egypt, Iran, Russia, South Africa, and Sweden.
Italy was the only European Union country to publicly oppose the resolution ahead of the vote. “Our opinion is very clear,” Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said. “UNESCO cannot be the place for a permanent ideological confrontation.”
Israeli officials reportedly successfully lobbied several European countries behind the scenes, including Italy, to drop support for the resolution. Israel succeeded in breaking up a German-brokered agreement between Arab states and 11 European Union countries, in which the EU would have promised to not oppose the UNESCO measure if Arab states softened its language, Haaretz reported.
Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon called the resolution “distorted” and “shameful,” and said it will “not change the fact that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”
Last October, UNESCO passed two separate resolutions ignoring Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem’s holy sites.
Despite the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed stronger global support for Israel.
“Today there are more countries abstaining or supporting Israel than countries against Israel,” Netanyahu said at a reception for foreign diplomats marking Israel’s Independence Day. “That is a change, for the first time.”