The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was busy patting itself on the back on Wednesday for supposedly fostering genuine compromise between Israel and the Palestinians.
But Israel's top diplomat at the United Nations insisted their was no cause for celebration, and that the Jewish state still intended to quit UNESCO by the end of the year.
The new head of UNESCO, France's Audrey Azoulay, has made a determined effort to strike a less anti-Israel tone. UNESCO, like so many other UN bodies, has for decades been hijacked by Arab and other non-aligned nations and transformed into little more than a podium from which to bash the Jewish state. For this reason, both the United States under President Donald Trump and Israel declared earlier this year that they would be withdrawing from UNESCO.
Azoulay said she hoped this week's purported compromise would cause Israel to reconsider that decision.
However, the achievement she touted was less a compromise than it was an act of blackmail behind a facade of phony goodwill.
For years, UNESCO has routinely read and approved a resolution titled "Occupied Palestine" that redefines historical Jewish holy sites as "integral part(s) of the Occupied Palestinian Territory."
Included in the list of sites are Rachel's Tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs, where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah are buried in Hebron. It should also be remembered that Hebron was the first capital of David's kingdom.
The supposed compromise that Azoulay was hailing was that this reimagining of history in our region was moved from the main body of text in the UNESCO resolution to a non-binding annex.
In other words, the full document still denies Jewish history in the Holy Land, but does so in what they call a "non-binding" way, as if Israel viewed the "binding" form of such historical denials as obligatory.
Because Israeli diplomats reportedly signed off on this move (though they were not part of the actual vote on the resolutions), Azoulay and other UN officials are pretending its a major achievement. For many in Israel, it appeared more as an act of strong-arming. UNESCO was going to approve the resolutions one way or another, and essentially told Israel to accept the "lighter" version, or live with the heavier version.
As for the Palestinians, there was no real compromise. Their denial of Jewish history is still part of the full document.
In light of all this, Israel's ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon (pictured), expressed little but derision for the UNESCO move.
"This is further evidence, for anyone who did not understand why the United States and Israel withdrew from UNESCO, that again proves that UNESCO is a body based on lies and biases, and is deliberately acting against us," read a statement released by Danon. "The State of Israel will not be a member of an organization that is trying to rewrite history and willing to be manipulated by our enemies."
UNESCO officials reacted with feigned shock that Israel would be anything but grateful over their grand benevolence.
"It’s really strange," one UNESCO official told The Times of Israel. "It’s also very problematic, because if he’s representing Israel, he should know what’s going on," he continued, again suggesting Israel has willingly gone along with the "compromise," and that all its representatives should therefore give voice only to gratitude.