PM meets Mexican diplomat fired for challenging UNESCO Jerusalem vote

Andres Roemer thanks Netanyahu for taking the time for ‘touching’ meeting, says ‘I am at peace with what I did’

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Former Mexican ambassador to UNESCO Andres Roemer. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Former Mexican ambassador to UNESCO Andres Roemer. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday met with Mexico’s former UNESCO ambassador, who last year was fired for refusing to vote in favor of a resolution effectively denying Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

Andres Roemer, who is Jewish, met with Netanyahu in Paris, just before the prime minister left for Hungary.

Roemer said he appreciated that he was given time in Netanyahu’s tight schedule in Paris. “Last year, I received many expressions of sympathy and support from the Jewish and also the Christian world, but today’s meeting was particularly touching for me,” Roemer said, according to a press release by Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, who organized the meeting.

In October 2016 — two months after Roemer arrived at UNESCO — he walked out during a vote on a resolution about the Old City of Jerusalem because he did not want to follow the instructions from his capital to vote in favor. He was later dismissed from his position.

“I am at peace with what I did,” he said, according to Shama-Hacohen. “I did it not only as a Jew but also a person who believes that these votes do not have a place in an educational and cultural organization, and hurt us all.”

During the meeting, Roemer gave Netanyahu a copy of his latest book.

In May, the Mexican-Jewish diplomat received the International Sephardic Leadership Award from the American Sephardic Federation.

“When confronted by the recent UNESCO resolution that sought to erase Jerusalem, Israel’s Jewish and Christian history, Ambassador Roemer knowingly risked his position to voice and vote his conscience,” read the federation’s announcement.

“While the resolution still passed, Ambassador Roemer did not forget Jerusalem and his moral courage convinced several countries, including his own, to seek to reverse the resolution’s ill-considered position against historical truth and the possibility of peace.”

JTA contributed to this report.

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