Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Small victories: UNESCO distances itself from Israeli government youth conference

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society struggling to uphold Palestinian rights, recently discovered that the Israeli Ministry of Education was claiming to be organizing a youth conference in Jerusalem “in cooperation with UNESCO (United Nations),” as the Ministry’s website claims. Specifically, the conference is to be held in an Israeli venue in occupied East Jerusalem, in clear violation of international law.

Since the involvement of any UN agency with the Israeli government in organizing projects in occupied Jerusalem would amount to complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and implicit, de facto recognition of Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the occupied city, the BNC brought this urgent matter to the attention of the PLO and the Fatah International Relations Commission, both of which acted immediately to obtain clarifications from the UN.

After intense communication with ranking UN officials, UNESCO issued the following public statement and posted it on the Organization’s website, distancing itself from the Israeli conference — effectively exposing Israel’s fabrication of such cooperation with UNESCO – and reiterating UNESCO’s long-standing position which regards East Jerusalem as an inseparable part of the occupied Palestinian territory.

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