Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

AIJAC says UNESCO vote “undermines genuine progress towards peace”

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Media Release

November 1, 2011

The decision of the General Assembly of UNESCO to "further the folly and fiction" that there is a State of Palestine which can participate in international organisations "undermines genuine progress towards peace", the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council said today, while stressing that "it is heartening to see that the Australian government was not party to the cynical and destructive political decision".

"The Palestinian leadership is fully aware that they do not control a 'State' and rather than work on state-building and peace building are indulging in self-defeating grandstanding" Mark Leibler, National Chairman of AIJAC said.

"This is a step away from peace, at a time when what is needed are negotiations aimed at expediting progress towards peace", Mr Leibler added.

"The Palestinian Authority is well aware that neither UNESCO nor any other agency can create a State for the Palestinians, and it is acting irresponsibly and directly counter to the international community's recent emphasis on a return to negotiations without preconditions", Dr Colin Rubenstein, AIJAC Executive Director, noted.

"The countries that opposed the resolution, including Australia, are the only states which now have any moral authority in contributions they make to advancing peace processes", Dr Rubenstein added.

Jeremy Jones, AIJAC's Director of International Affairs, said that "this decision will have the inevitable effect of weakening UNESCO, with millions of people around the globe who may have benefitted from its work effectively sacrificed to the cause of anti-Israel myth-making "

"Citizens of the 107 countries which supported the admission of a non-existent State should be ashamed of their governments, which share the responsibility for harming peace prospects and undermining UNESCO's work", Mr Jones concluded.