(JNS.org) Despite the latest UNESCO vote opposing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed stronger global support for Israel.
“Today there are more countries abstaining or supporting Israel than countries against Israel,” Netanyahu said at a reception for foreign diplomats marking Israel’s Independence Day. “That is a change, for the first time.”
UNESCO’s executive committee Tuesday approved a resolution—which passed in a 22-10 vote, with 23 abstentions—calling Israel an “occupying power” and saying any Israeli efforts to assert sovereignty over Jerusalem are “null and must be rescinded forthwith.” Last October, UNESCO had passed two resolutions denying Jerusalem’s Jewish heritage.
Nevertheless, Israeli officials reportedly successfully lobbied several European countries behind the scenes, including Italy, to drop support for the resolution. Israel succeeded in breaking up a German-brokered agreement between Arab states and 11 European Union countries, in which the EU would have promised to not oppose the UNESCO measure if Arab states softened its language, Haaretz reported.
Ahead of the vote, Italy announced it would oppose the resolution, which led other EU countries, with the exception of Sweden, to either oppose the measure or abstain from the vote.
“In the past two days I had talks with many of the leaders of your countries, heads of state, foreign ministers…regarding the absurd vote that is being held now in the U.N.,” Netanyahu said.
“The number of countries who support this absurd UNESCO resolution is getting smaller,” he said, noting, “A year ago it was 32, six months ago it dropped to 26 and it now dropped to 22.”