The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is going to meet on Wednesday in Paris to discuss Israel’s refusal to allow a fact finding mission into the country to look into complaints of changes to the historic character of East Jerusalem, PA Foreign Minister Riyad Malki said Tuesday, according to the official PA news agency WAFA.
The mission was originally supposed to arrive in Jerusalem on Monday, and spend five days looking into charges of changes to the historic and cultural character of East Jerusalem.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry official told AFP that Israel cancelled the delegation’s visit because “the Palestinians were not respecting the understandings. The visit was supposed to be professional, (but) they were taking measures that showed they were politicizing the event and not letting the delegation focus on professional sides of it.”
In April, Israel agreed that UNESCO could assess the state of the Old City of Jerusalem, following pressure from Jordan, as well as the PA, which became a member of the organization in 2011.
Speaking on Voice of Palestine radio, Malki said that Israel “used false pretexts to justify its decision not to allow the mission into the country,” such as the claim that the mission’s work was political.
“We will not accept such claims,” he said, explaining that the Palestinian Authority asked UNESCO to take a stand on the sudden change in the Israeli position, and that a meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday with the representatives of the Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli delegations.
Malki said he expected the meeting to agree on a new date for the arrival of the mission in Jerusalem, adding that international pressure on Israel is going to force it to allow the UNESCO team to do its work.
Israel had agreed to the arrival of the mission in a deal brokered by the Russian delegation to UNESCO according to which the Palestinians would postpone until the fall discussion of five resolutions condemning Israel for the changes it has introduced to the city since 1967.