Israel trims UN budget again following Jerusalem resolution


AFP

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday that Israel would cut US$1 million from its United Nations funding over a UNESCO resolution he says denies Jews’ historical connection with Jerusalem. The resolution, passed Tuesday at the U.N. organization’s Paris headquarters 22 votes to 10, with 23 abstentions, denounced actions taken by “Israel, the occupying power … to alter the character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem.” It particularly criticized Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem after occupying it in 1967, a move never recognized by the international community. “UNESCO again accepted an absurd resolution yesterday about the status of Jerusalem — the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years,” Netanyahu said at the opening of a cabinet meeting. “This systematic harassment has a price,” said Netanyahu, telling ministers he had ordered the foreign ministry to “cut an additional US$1 million from the money Israel transfers to the U.N.” Wednesday’s cut was the third time in recent months Israel reduced its U.N. budget over what it perceived as anti-Israel votes, putting the 2017 payments at US$3.7 million instead of the original US$11 million, an Israeli official said. Netanyahu, however, noted the “silver lining” of Tuesday’s vote, which he said saw more states supporting Israel’s position than in previous similar resolutions. “This is a consistent trend,” he said, thanking the countries that voted against the resolution, first and foremost “Italy, the first European state that announced its opposition to it.” “For the first time at UNESCO more countries opposed and abstained than supported, and that is of course important.” Also Wednesday, the Israeli foreign ministry summoned Swedish Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser and reprimanded him over Stockholm’s support of the UNESCO resolution.

Senior ministry officials expressed their “bitter disappointment” over the vote in their talk with Nesser, noting Sweden’s “systematic voting” pattern against Israel, a statement read.