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UNESCO adopts by consensus decisions on Palestine

Oct. 11, 2018 2:04 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 12, 2018 3:32 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Program and External Relations Commission (PX) of the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted, on Wednesday, by consensus two resolutions on Palestine in the framework of its 205th plenary meeting.

The resolutions, sponsored by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, dealt with the issues of Jerusalem and two sites in Hebron and Bethlehem as well as education and culture, in addition to others.

One resolution stated "The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, a site inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger, is the sacred city of the three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam," reaffirming that "all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the 'basic law' on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith."

It reaffirmed that "The two Palestinian sites of the Ibrahimi Mosque also known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the southern West Bank city of Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque also known as Rachel's Tomb in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem are an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and shares the conviction affirmed by the international community that the two sites are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam."

The resolution also deplored "the ongoing Israeli excavations, works, construction of private roads for settlers and of a wall inside the Old City of Hebron, which are illegal under international law and harmfully affect the authenticity and integrity of the site, and the subsequent denial of freedom of movement and freedom of access to places of worship."

The resolution said it "Regrets the visual impact of the Wall on the site of Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque in Bethlehem, as well as the strict ban on access of Palestinian Christian and Muslim worshipers to the site, and demands that the Israeli authorities restore the original character of the landscape around the site and lift the ban on access to it."

UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, said "I would like to commend the spirit of dialogue and the sense of responsibility that led to this result. A trend towards consensus is now emerging. It is based on the presence of all parties around the table at UNESCO and, of course, on their goodwill. These factors have come together in recent months and have enabled the Secretariat to play to the full its role as mediator."

The decision adopted in the Program and External Relations Commission will be submitted for final approval to the plenary session of the Executive Board next week.

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