The UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem – balanced and necessary. But weak European support indicates Israeli steps towards annexation of East Jerusalem
UNESCO’s decision on Jerusalem yesterday is one of the best, most just and most long-awaited by the organization. On the other hand, it is a great success for Netanyahu whose diplomatic efforts led to the European countries (except Sweden), the United States and other countries to refrain from supporting it, hence weakening its validity.
UNESCO in effect said what it had to say based on in its mandate to protect world heritage sites: Israel is working unilaterally in the Old City, digging and advancing its construction, regardless of Jerusalem’s historical character and of it being a world heritage site. UNESCO also stated a known fact: East Jerusalem is occupied territory.
We in Emek Shaveh also claim that the archaeological activity of tunnel digging and the promotion of building projects such as ‘Beit ha-Liba’ in the Western Wall plaza, or the Kedem compound in Silwan, are detrimental to the character of ancient Jerusalem.
We assume that Netanyahu’s political maneuver vis-a-vis the German Foreign Minister is part of an effective foreign policy that demands that Europe recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. Anyone who opposes this demand is accused of anti-Semitism and of erasing the Jewish connection to the city. This policy is intended to prevent the possibility of a political compromise in Jerusalem.
The Europeans’ opposition and abstention to UNESCO’s decision yesterday shows that this policy is bearing fruit. The European representatives in the organization have yielded to Israeli pressure and renounced a balanced decision that is consistent with international law – Jerusalem is occupied territory and Israel cannot act in the Old City as it sees fit.
In the political struggle over Jerusalem, heritage plays a central role. In view of the European countries’ reluctance to support a just and good decision for Jerusalem, it seems that the Israeli nationalist discourse is also succeeding in casting fear upon Europe.