Cablegate: Usunesco - Middle East Issues at Unesco Executive

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

RE: PARIS 08393 (2004)

1. Summary: UNESCO continues to be the sole UN organization
where Israeli-Palestinian issues are handled with a minimum
of polemics and polarization. Following concrete
improvements in cooperation on UNESCO activities in the
region, the UNESCO Secretariat submitted unbiased draft
decisions on two Middle East issues for adoption by the
recent Executive Board. These items concerned Jerusalem and
educational and cultural institutions in the occupied Arab
territories. A push by leaders of UNESCO's Arab Group to
include objectionable language in the draft resolutions was
ultimately unsuccessful. Ambassador Oliver worked closely
with all involved to reach acceptable language. She also
made clear that progress must be recognized and that the
continued politicization of the issues could hinder further
progress. End Summary.

2. The 171st Session of UNESCO's Executive Board (April 18-
28 2005) was presented with two recurring agenda items
dealing with the Middle East: Item 18: Jerusalem and the
implementation of 32 C/Resolution 39 and 170 EX/Decision
3.6.1, and Item 53: Implementation of 32 C/Resolution 54
and 170 EX/Decision 9.3 concerning educational and cultural
institutions in the occupied Arab territories. Both reports
pointed to increased cooperation and achievements on the
ground, facilitated by greater Israeli government

3. While few comments were made on Middle-Eastern issues in
the plenary and commission meetings, Arab delegations sought
on the margins of the meetings to return to language adopted
at the preceding Board sessions (Reftel). This was resisted
by the Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO who felt that Israeli
efforts, including facilitating and easing visa procedures
for the Ramallah book fair and the facilitation of UNESCO
expert missions to the region, should be recognized. He
further emphasized that returning to earlier language that
did not recognize the improved situation, would discourage
further cooperation. He asserted that the regional
stakeholders should point to these successes as examples to
follow and refused to consider accepting any language other
than that proposed by the Secretariat. Indeed, he felt that
no decision was needed at all.

4. Following intense consultations, an agreed text was
adopted by consensus without debate on April 28th. The
agreed text, while not that of the Secretariat, is
significantly better than that of previous decisions.
Ambassador Revah was still frustrated, however, as the
Secretariat was not given the opportunity to make statements

highlighting the positive results of their activities on the
ground. The Decisions adopted are copied below:

1. Begin Text of resolution regarding Jerusalem

18. Jerusalem and the implementation of 32 C/Resolution 39
and 170 EX/Decision 3.6.1 (171 EX/15 and 171 EX/PX/DR.2)

The Executive Board,

Recalling 32 C/Resolution 39 and 170 EX/Decision 3.6.1, as
well as the provisions of the four Geneva Conventions (1949)
of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural
Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) and the
related Protocols, and of the Convention for the Protection
of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972), the
inclusion of the Old City of Jerusalem in the World Heritage
List and in the List of World Heritage in Danger, and the
recommendations, resolutions and decisions of UNESCO on the
protection of the cultural heritage,

Affirming that nothing in the present decision, which aims
at the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City
of Jerusalem, shall in any way affect the relevant United
Nations resolutions and decisions, in particular the
relevant Security Council resolutions on the legal status of

Taking note of document 171 EX/15 concerning Jerusalem,

Expresses its sincere thanks to the Director-General for his
sustained efforts for the safeguarding of the cultural and
natural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem, in compliance
with 32 C/Resolution 39 of the General Conference as well as
170 EX/Decision 3.6.1 of the Executive Board, and reiterates
its concern as to the obstacles to the safeguarding of the
cultural and natural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem;

Congratulates the Director-General on the holding of the
first meeting of the International Committee of Experts on
the safeguarding of the cultural and natural heritage of the
Old City of Jerusalem at UNESCO Headquarters on 26 and 27
January 2005 and invites him to pursue his efforts with a
view to establish an action plan in conformity with the main
lines established by this Committee and requests the
Director-General to present to it a progress report on the
implementation of the plan of action for the safeguarding of
the cultural and natural heritage of the Old City of

Further invites the concerned parties to cooperate with
UNESCO for the implementation of the action plan and
reiterates its appeal to the Member States with a view to
their financial contribution to the full implementation of
this action plan;
Further encourages the Director-General to intensify his
efforts towards the establishment of a centre for the
conservation of Islamic manuscripts in Al-Ashrafiya Madrasa
within the Esplanade of the Mosques (al-Haram Ash-Sharif);

Decides to include this item in the agenda of its 172nd

5. Begin text of resolution regarding the Occupied

53. Implementation of 32 C/Resolution 54 and 170
EX/Decision 9.3 concerning educational and cultural
institutions in the occupied Arab territories (171 EX/41
Rev. and 171 EX/PX/DR.3)

The Executive Board,

Recalling 32 C/Resolution 54 and 170 EX/Decision 9.3; as
well a Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights with regard to the right to education; Articles 4 and
94 of the Geneva Convention with regard t the denial of the
right of children to education; as well as the UNESCO
Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and
Natural Heritage (1972) and the Hague Convention (1954) and
its Additional Protocols,

Having examined document 171 EX/41 Rev.,

Further recalling the role that UNESCO is called upon to
play in order to satisfy the right to education for all and
to meet the need for safe access of Palestinians to the
educational system,

Recalling paragraph 32 of the Medium-Term Strategy (31 C/4
Approved), defining a "road map" for a revitalized UNESCO:
principles of action and programming", and paragraph 12 of
31 C/Resolution 43,

Deeply committed to the safeguarding of monuments, works of
art, manuscripts, books and other historical and cultural
properties to be protected in the event of conflicts,

Supports the efforts made by the Director-General with a
view to the implementation of 32/C/Resolution 54 and 170
EX/Decision 9.3 and requests him to do everything possible
to ensure that they are fully implemented and its
implementation be reinforced in the framework of the
Programme and Budget for 2006-2007 (33 C/5);

Expresses its appreciation for the substantial contributions
of all concerned Member States, IGOs and NGOs to UNESCO's
action in the Palestinian Territories and appeals to them to
continue assisting UNESCO in this endeavour;

Thanks the Director-General for the results which have been
obtained, in relation to the implementation of a number of
current educational and cultural activities,

Reiterates its concern as to the obstacles to the
safeguarding of the cultural and natural heritage, to the
functioning of the cultural and educational institutions,
and calls for the observance of the provisions of 32
C/Resolution 54 and of 170 EX/Decision 9.3;

Encourages the Director-General to continue to reinforce his
action in favour of the reconstruction, rehabilitation and
restoration of the Palestinian archaeological sites and
cultural heritage;

Invites the Director-General to address the needs for
capacity-building in all UNESCO's fields of competence by
expanding the financial assistance programme for Palestinian
students from both regular budget and extrabudgetary

Requests the Director-General to continue close monitoring
of the implementation of the recommendations of the sixth
meeting of the Joint UNESCO-Palestinian Authority Committee,
in particular the flagship projects identified during this
meeting, and to reinforce cooperation with the Palestinian
authorities with a view to organizing a donor event in
compliance with 32 C/Resolution 54;

Encouraged by the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian
dialogue, expresses the hope that the Arab-Israeli peace
negotiations will be resumed, and that a just and
comprehensive peace will speedily be brought about in
accordance with UNESCO's Constitution and the United Nations
resolutions, particularly the relevant Security Council
resolutions, on this matter;

Also invites the Director-General:

(a) to continue the efforts he is making with a view to
preserving the human, social and cultural fabric of the
occupied Syrian Golan, in accordance with the relevant
provisions of this decision;

(b) to undertake efforts with a view to offering appropriate
curricula, and to provide more grants and special assistance
to the educational institutions of the occupied Syrian

Decides to inscribe this item at its 172nd session and
invites the Director-General to present to it a progress
report thereon.


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