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Unesco and politics in Israel

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Author Assif
#1 | Posted: 25 May 2011 00:29 | Edited by: Assif 
Iīve just stumbled upon an irritating article regarding Israelīs world heritage politics. Prof. Mike Turner who was the head of Israelīs Unesco committe and a prominent figure (the most prominent one perhaps) in heritage studies was dismissed. He was directly responsible for all of Israel's nominations so far which were relatively successful. All members of the committe unanimously voted for the extension of his duty. Nonetheless he was dismissed by the Ministry of Education with no apparent reason.
A journalistic invistigation into the matter shows he was involved in his role in Unesco in publishing negative reviews of Israel's plan to undertake various building projects and irresponsible excavations around the Wailing Wall. As this is a politically charged area and Israel is currently run by an extreme right-wing government he was probably dismissed due to his lack of cooperation with the governmental ideology. This is yet another obvious step in the unfortunate path Israel is undertaking politically (at least this is my personal view). Most shameful! (in Herbrew)

Author Solivagant
#2 | Posted: 2 Jul 2011 02:24 | Edited by: Solivagant 
An article in English with some additional background to the issue Assif raised above. The interview with Michael Turner also contains views on other Israeli/World Heritage matters

Any views Assif on his comments as to why Israel decided to sign the World heritage convention?

Also Assif, it is possible during the rush of comments on the 2011 WHC that you missed my q about the Triple arch Gate of Dan and its continual "postponement"? (Page 8 Posted: 28 Jun 2011 17:56)
My understanding is that it IS indeed linked to the issue of "UN defined borders" in the area to "prove" that none of the site - including its buffer zones strays into disputed territory and that this info never seems to be forthcoming (and probably never will be!!)

Author Assif
#3 | Posted: 2 Jul 2011 06:30 
An interesting article. It seems odd to me the reason for Israel's signing the Unesco treaty was the fear of an establishment of a Palestinian state. I don't think it was regarded as a plausible development back then. Even nowdays with September approaching most Israelis including government officials amazingly keep declaring that any UN resolution on this matter will have no impact in reality.
Solivagant - I didn't miss your post on the Arch of Dan. I even launched a search and came up with nothing. Most of these internal issues never get it to the press. I was actually quite astonished to come across the reasoning I cites last time, and that on an official Israeli website!
I truly don't know what the issue is. Tel Dan is located within the UN recognized boundaries, same as any other Israeli WHS (excluding Jerusalem of course). The Muslim states not recognizing Israel do not recognize its sovereignity over any of the sites and have no particular reasons I could understand opposing just the Arch of Dan. Actually I remember stumbling over a Jordanian website surveying all Israeli WHS and T sites and explaining why they do not belong to Israel.
What my wife suggested is that political changes in the world and the growing opposition to Israeli politics on Palestinian lands brought some political pressure on behalf of some Arab countries. It could be that they now oppose ANY new nomination by Israel. Who knows.
Let's hope Semptember shall change things for better as I personally reckon.

Author winterkjm
#4 | Posted: 11 Oct 2011 00:45 
I did not know about this, but it seems Israel has stopped working with UNESCO for a while now. Unesco has reportedly asked Israel to remove one of their tentative sites! or-Biblical-Sites/

Author Assif
#5 | Posted: 11 Oct 2011 05:19 
I didn't know about that but it isn't much of a surprise in the current state of affairs. UNESCO's decision does not involve a WHS tentative site though. It is intended to oppose Israel's new list of national heritage sites which includes two major sites deep within the Palestinian Territories.

Author meltwaterfalls
#6 | Posted: 11 Oct 2011 07:46 
I didn't realise Israel had put forward Tomb of the Patriarchs, it doesn't feature on the UNESCO sites tentative list, but guess that is the source of the argument with UNESCO

Trying to tread carefully as I don't want to want to delve too deeply into the world of Middle Eastern politics I found this article which gives a more 'neutral' view (if such a thing is possible).

Like I said I am not interested in making a political point however it does raise an issue that I have been thinking about. With the Palestinian Authority proposing some biblical tells (perhaps it would be a different inscription from the existent Israeli one) I was wondering if this may stray into the territory of unilateral extensions?
I was thinking about this when I noticed there is a little section of the Great Wall of China in North Korea and wondered if they could propose it as an extension but not consult China on it. Do the existing state parties have a veto on extensions to sites outside there boarders. Could the UK turn around and say they don't want the Frontiers of the Roman Empire 'diluted' by being extended to half a dozen other European nations for example.
I would guess that it would probably mostly be dealt with by some behind the scenes diplomacy and/or institutional inertia. However I was wondering if there were any prominent cases of potential unilateral extensions?

Author Assif
#7 | Posted: 11 Oct 2011 13:06 
The Palestinian sites proposed are all within the 1967 borders and not in Israel.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs is outside the recognized borders of Israel, however as said above, it is not proposed for UNESCO but only as a national heritage site. Still this raises international tensions. This would be similar to Russia nominating national heritage sites in Berlin or in Tallin.

Author jonathanfr
#8 | Posted: 3 Nov 2015 10:40 
On this page
Jerusalem is connected to Israel. According to UNESCO, until one day perhaps the matter to be decided bilaterally, Jerusalem is not officilement attached to Israel or Palestine. So two options open to us:
- Maintain neutrality, neither one nor the other.
- To the one and to the other, thus considering it as a third Palestinian site.

Author elsslots
#9 | Posted: 3 Nov 2015 11:16 
Jerusalem is not officilement attached to Israel or Palestine

Jerusalem is attached to Jordan by Unesco (as they proposed the site). But it feels odd to move it there.
There's a similar issue with the Serbian monasteries in Kosovo. Will Kosovo 'inherit' these as they become a member of Unesco? Or will they stay Serbian WHS on soil of a different de facto state?

Author Walter
#10 | Posted: 4 Nov 2015 19:47 
On the official UNESCO WHS, Jerusalem is attached to... Jerusalem. Proposed boy Jordan, but ont attached to it. And not connected to either Palestine or Israel. Maybe we should also list it as a seperate entry/country..

Author winterkjm
#11 | Posted: 13 Nov 2015 02:08 
Scroll to page 56, Title: "Occupied Palestine"

This has been the document and decision that has certainly roiled some people in the pro-Israel camp. In the end, while some articles claim all of UNESCO just designated certain sites as Palestinian heritage, what power does the Executive Board of UNESCO actually have? The power to suggest, condemn, and recommend? It is interesting to see the voting patterns of the 58 member states part of the Executive Board.

Author barabanov
#12 | Posted: 22 Jan 2016 02:16 | Edited by: barabanov 
I received printed official WH map. Interestingly, if you look at the more detailed Europe map, it seems that Cyprus has a border marked between northern and southern parts (this border is recognized only by Turkey). At the same time, Republic of Kosovo (recognized by 108 countries) is not marked. Obviously annexed Crimea; Abkhazia and South Ossetia, not recognized by anybody, except Nauru, are not marked. Palestinian territories are hidden somewhere between very dense concentration of WH sites in Israel and the borders could not be seen. However, on the previous map 14/15 they were named oPt (occupied Palestinian territory) and now, as previously decided by UNESCO, they are called Palestine with the same font as other states. Other de-facto self-governed territories, like Sahrawi or Somaliland, are not marked.

Author Solivagant
#13 | Posted: 22 Jan 2016 03:25 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I received printed official WH map.

Out of interest - where does your UNESCO printed map show the frontiers to be in the case of a few other "problematical areas?
a. The Indo-Chinese border in the NE (Arunuchal Pradesh)? Does it follow the "northerly" McMahon Line?
If one uses Google Maps to look at the area you get different answers according to which domain country extension you use
i.. "Dot com" shows dotted lines for each "claim",92.2366274,7z/data=!3m 1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x374043466a1c7227:0x76b56e552f9a92f2
ii. Chinese shows the southern version -,92.005005,7z
iii. Indian shows the northern version!,93.2749309,7z
b. And what about Kashmir and Aksai Chin?
c. Does it give the "Falkland Islands" a name and if so which (or both!)?

One might have thought that UNESCO would have avoided showing ANY frontiers at all on its maps as it is on a "loser" whatever it does!

Author Messy
#14 | Posted: 16 Apr 2016 09:42 | Edited by: Messy 
UNESCO has decided that Israel is using " e Graves" to prove that there were once Jews living in Palestine prior to 1948. This is clearly not true and UNESCO should be ashamed of itself for this lie.

Author jonathanfr
#15 | Posted: 14 Oct 2016 06:22 
Suspension of all professional activities of the Israeli commission with Unesco 465/

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