Arabs demand UN remove Jerusalem panel from Israel exhibit
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Arabs demand UN remove Jerusalem panel from Israel exhibit

Reference to ‘the spiritual and physical capital of the Jewish people’ sparks ire for ‘purport[ing] to assert Israeli sovereignty’

A panel on Jerusalem that was removed by UN officials from an exhibit on Israel prepared by the Israeli Mission to the UN and StandWithUs set to be displayed April 4, 2016. (Israeli Mission to the UN)
A panel on Jerusalem that was removed by UN officials from an exhibit on Israel prepared by the Israeli Mission to the UN and StandWithUs set to be displayed April 4, 2016. (Israeli Mission to the UN)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Arab and Islamic nations are demanding that the United Nations remove a panel from an Israeli exhibition that calls Jerusalem “the spiritual and physical capital of the Jewish people.”

A letter from the Palestinian UN mission to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft circulated Thursday evening expressed “vehement rejection” at the description, echoing protests by Arab nations at the UN and the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

The letter said any references “which purport to assert Israeli sovereignty on this land … are legally, politically and morally incorrect and unacceptable.”

Jerusalem is the historic capital of the Jewish people, and the west of the city has been under Israeli sovereignty since the foundation of the modern state. Israel annexed the Old City and east Jerusalem after capturing the territory in the 1967 Six Day War.

A panel on Jerusalem that was removed by UN officials from an exhibit on Israel prepared by the Israeli Mission to the UN and StandWithUs set to be displayed April 4, 2016. (Israeli Mission to the UN)
A panel on Jerusalem that was removed by UN officials from an exhibit on Israel prepared by the Israeli Mission to the UN and StandWithUs set to be displayed April 4, 2016. (Israeli Mission to the UN)

Palestinian Charge d’Affaires Feda Abdelhady-Nasser said the “misleading and inappropriate depictions of Jerusalem … negate the Palestinian existence in the city as well as its historical Arab, Muslim and Christian identity and heritage over the centuries.”

She said the UN Security Council and General Assembly “have clearly rejected Israel’s illegal annexation of east Jerusalem” and called on Ban and Lykketoft to take “the necessary measures for the removal of the … panel.”

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Israeli mission followed the rules for mounting an exhibition.

While the UN tries to balance the wishes of the country wishing to exhibit without offending another country, he said, it “is not an exact science and … is not always easy.”

The exhibition, in a corridor near a popular cafe in the UN basement, includes panels on Israel’s Arabs, its technology innovations and other aspects of Israeli life.

Parts of the exhibition were ordered removed by UN officials in April, but the decision was reversed after Israel protested.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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