Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday called on all countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem in response to a UNESCO committee’s decision to pass a resolution critical of Israel.
Rivlin said at an event to celebrate Israel’s 69th Independence Day that “Jerusalem has always been the centre of the Jewish world.
“It is time to put an end to the absurd. It is time to recognise Jerusalem as the official capital of the state of Israel. De facto, not just de jure.
“Israel had long considered Jerusalem as its capital.”
He, however, noted that “since the Palestinian Authority would like to make East Jerusalem the capital of an eventual state, picking Jerusalem as the site of an embassy would be a clear signal that a country favours one side over the other.
“To avoid this, most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv.”
Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Malki, welcomed the UNESCO decision on Tuesday.
He said that “in spite of the desperate attempts of the Israeli Government to undermine Palestine resolutions at UNESCO, the world nevertheless voted in favour of our resolutions.”
A UNESCO executive board committee passed a resolution on Tuesday declaring Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem “null and void” and criticised excavation projects in East Jerusalem and two sites in the West Bank, as well as its blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
The resolution passed with 22 countries voting in favour, a UNESCO spokesman said on Tuesday, adding that the U.S., Germany and Italy were joined by seven other countries in voting against the resolution.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, denounced the UN body earlier on Tuesday, saying it tried to deny the “historical truth” that no one else considered Jerusalem as holy as the Jewish people.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry, which on Tuesday described the resolution as “unnecessary politicisation of UNESCO,” started its offensive effort targeting the UN cultural body over the resolution last week.
“The proposed resolution will not affect our determination to operate in Jerusalem,” it said last Thursday, adding that “it will, however, impair UNESCO’s deteriorating status and relevance.’’
The executive board commission’s decision now goes to the executive board plenary, which will consider the issue on Friday, according to a UNESCO spokesman.
The resolution, submitted by several Arab nations, has softer wording than another UNESCO decision last year that referred to several sites primarily by their Islamic names and largely ignored Jewish terms.