In a rare instance of breaking step with the Arab world, Russia’s envoy to the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) caused the organization to defer condemning Israel in a series of votes on Wednesday.
Five resolutions proposed by the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Syria were scuttled by Russia, which presented a plan to delay the resolutions for 6 months in order to send a UN fact-finding team. The plan passed, with France the only European country to vote against.
The resolutions accuse Israel of trying to change the character of Jerusalem by conducting archaeological digs without the approval of former occupying country Jordan, allowing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, allowing Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, neglecting education in Gaza, and alleged mistreatment of the Druze residents of the Golan.
UNESCO considers the entire Old City of Jerusalem and its surrounding walls as a world heritage site.