Scolding UNESCO, GOP lawmakers introduce resolution on Jewish ties to Jerusalem
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Scolding UNESCO, GOP lawmakers introduce resolution on Jewish ties to Jerusalem

After Trump administration announces it will withdraw from UN cultural body over anti-Israel votes, Sen. Cruz and Rep. Gaetz accuse agency of ‘trying to rewrite history’

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition presidential forum in Washington, DC, on December 3, 2015. (AP/Susan Walsh)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition presidential forum in Washington, DC, on December 3, 2015. (AP/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — After the Trump administration withdrew the United States from UNESCO over what it called its “anti-Israel bias,” two GOP lawmakers introduced a resolution that condemns the UN cultural organization and affirms Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

The UN body has, in recent years, passed a series of its own resolutions denying a Jewish link to the holy city.

On Israel’s Independence Day this year, the UN cultural agency passed a motion that many Israelis saw as denying Jewish historical or religious ties to Jerusalem. Such measures were cited as one reason the US decided to pull out of the agency last week.

On Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, followed up on the move by authoring a resolution that “recognizes and affirms the historical connection of the Jewish people to the ancient and sacred city of Jerusalem.”

It goes on to cite archaeologically excavated sites, like the City of David, that contain vast quantities of antiquities from the ancient Jewish and Christian presence in the city.

“The Jewish people, and the people of Israel, have a deep and ancient connection to the holy city of Jerusalem,” Rep. Gaetz said. “Yet the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization … is actively trying to rewrite history.”

The resolution’s text condemns UNESCO for what it characterizes as its attempts to delegitimize the Jewish state. It also calls on the US to partner with its allies in preventing the group from passing similar measures in the future.

“The Trump administration has demonstrated strong moral clarity in deciding to withdraw and continuing to withhold US taxpayer dollars from UNESCO as a result of its relentless hostility towards our close ally Israel,” Cruz said.

After the US decision to exit UNESCO was announced last Thursday, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, warned the entire world body that other agencies risked the same treatment if they did not reform.

“The United States will continue to evaluate all agencies within the United Nations system through the same lens,” she said.

French former culture minister and newly elected head of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay addresses a press conference following her election on October 13, 2017 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. (AFP PHOTO / Thomas Samson)

The US withdrawal from UNESCO won’t take effect until December 31, 2018.

On Friday, UNESCO elected former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay, who is Jewish, as its new head. Azoulay immediately urged the US and Israel not to quit the organization.

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