Israel's UNESCO Envoy Heads to Paris With List of Demands for Organization

Carmel Shama-Hacohen, who was recalled to Israel to protest UNESCO's resolutions on Jerusalem, will try to restore ties with the international body.

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Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Israel's envoy to UNESCO.
Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Israel's envoy to UNESCO.Credit: Courtesy
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Israel’s envoy to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, who was recalled to Israel for consultations in the wake of a slew of anti-Israeli resolutions adopted by the organization, will return in the coming days to Paris and present UNESCO’s director general, Irina Bokova, with Israel’s conditions for putting relations back on track.

Senior officials in the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Ambassador Shama-Hacohen and with Yuval Rotem, the acting director general of the Foreign Ministry to discuss additional steps to be taken regarding UNESCO. The senior officials added that a series of meetings at Foreign Ministry headquarters, which dealt with the quality of Israel’s future relationship with the organization, preceded the meeting with Netanyahu. The result of the meetings was a list of demands for steps UNESCO must take to restore good relations with Israel and to allow a renewal of cooperation between the sides.

Netanyahu, both prime minister and foreign minister, decided two weeks ago to recall Ambassador Shama-Hacohen for consultations in Jerusalem to protest a resolution passed by UNESCO institutions regarding Jerusalem that ignored Jewish historical ties to Temple Mount. Ten countries voted for the measure, eight abstained, two voted against and one was absent. The decision, which Palestinians and Jordanians had promoted and which was adopted by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, was milder than the resolution adopted by UNESCO’s executive board two weeks earlier.

The senior official remarked that the return of Ambassador Shama-Hacohen is “conditional” for a two-three week period. “If we don’t receive a positive response to our demands, the ambassador will return to Israel,” the senior official said.

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