Executive Board adopts five decisions concerning UNESCO’s work in the occupied Palestinian and Arab Territories
The 185th session of UNESCO’s Executive Board today adopted five decisions concerning UNESCO’s work in the occupied Palestinian and Arab Territories.
The decisions cover:
• The Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem: the Board voted 31 to 5 (17 abstentions) to reaffirm the necessity of Israel’s cooperation in order to arrange access to the Mughrabi Ascent site for Jordanian and Waqf experts and that no measures should be taken which will affect the authenticity and integrity of the site, in accordance with the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the Hague Convention for the protection of Cultural property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
• Jerusalem’s cultural heritage: The Board voted 34 to 1 (19 abstentions) to “reaffirm the religious significance of the Old City of Jerusalem for Muslims, Christians and Jews. The decision expresses “deep concern over the ongoing Israeli excavations and archaeological works on Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, which contradicts UNESCO decisions and conventions and United Nations and Security Council resolutions”. It invites the Director-General to appoint experts to be stationed in East Jerusalem to report on all aspects covering the architectural, educational, cultural and demographical situation there. It also invites the Israelis to facilitate the work of the experts in conformity with Israel’s adherence to UNESCO decisions and conventions.
• The Palestinian sites of al-Haram al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem: the Board voted 44 to one (12 abstentions) to reaffirm that the two sites are an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law, the UNESCO Conventions and the United Nations and Security Council resolutions.
• Educational and cultural institutions in the Occupied Arab territories: The board voted 41 to one (15 abstentions) expressing its “continuing concern” about the harmful impact of the separation Wall and other practices on the activities of cultural and educational institutions, as well as obstacles that result which prevent Palestinian school children and students from being an integral part of their social fabric and from exercising their full right to education. The decision calls on the Director-General to continue efforts to preserve the human, social and cultural fabric of the occupied Syrian Golan, and to undertake efforts to offer appropriate curricula and provide more grants and adequate assistance to the education and cultural institutions of the occupied Syrian Golan.
• The reconstruction and development of Gaza: The Board voted 41 to one (15 abstentions) on a decision that “deplores” the continuous blockade on the Gaza Strip, which harmfully affects the free and sustained movement of personnel and humanitarian relief items”. The decision called upon the Director-General of UNESCO to continue contributing to the United Nations humanitarian response in Gaza within the Organization’s fields of competence.
UNESCO’s Executive Board comprises 58 Member States. It meets twice a year to review the implementation of the programme adopted by the General Conference. The 185th session of the Board opened on 5 October and closes today, 21 October.
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