Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Unesco Eyes Jerusalem

Editorial of The New York Sun | April 30, 2013
We smelled trouble the minute we read that Israel and the Palestinian Arabs had agreed to a role for the United Nations in certain cultural heritage matters in Jerusalem. The place we read it was a story by Steven Erlanger in the New York Times. We’re not here to quarrel with Mr. Erlanger’s dispatch. We are here to note that the first principle of American policy in respect of Jerusalem ought to be to keep the United Nations as far away from the Jewish capital as possible. Mr. Erlanger reports that the UN got its nose in the tent during President Obama’s visit to Jerusalem. If that’s the case, he should have stayed home.
This came into focus via Claudia Rosett. Her latest dispatch in the National Review carries with headline “Let the French Pay for Unesco.” It turns out that the deal under which the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization would gain a role in Jerusalem is part of a plot to get the United States to resume paying for Unesco. The U.S. was obligated by law to halt its funding of Unesco in 2011, after cheering delegates at the Unesco headquarters at Paris voted to bring in the Palestine Liberation Organization as a member. Resuming funding could cost American taxpayers a quarter of a billion dollars at a time when the government can’t afford White House tours for school children.
Secretary of State Kerry is up to his eyeballs in this plot, as is Secretary of State Emeritus Clinton and, no doubt, President Obama. Unesco, Ms. Rosett reports, is paying one of its top people to fly into Washington to lobby for the lucre. If American comes back into Unesco, American taxpayers would end up paying back Unesco for lobbying us to resume payment for the organization. Mr. Kerry, Ms. Rosett reports, recently testified before Congress in favor of America resuming its funding for Unesco — and had the gall to suggest that it should do so for Israel’s sake.
Ms. Rosett calls the Jerusalem gambit “the most cynical move yet.” According to Ms. Rosett, the scheme, announced April 24, is that Unesco would send experts to examine the condition of historic sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. She reports that UNESCO “is advertising this as a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations, since both sides had to agree to the arrangement.” Ambassador Killion, America’s envoy at Unesco, has called the agreement on Jersualem “a critical step forward toward depoliticizing UNESCO.” Ambassador Killion’s next project is to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.
“All the signs,” Ms. Rosett writes, “suggest that UNESCO and the Obama administration orchestrated this deal in order to persuade Congress to resume funding UNESCO.” She quotes the Times as reporting that allowing access to Jerusalem by potentially unfriendly UNESCO experts “represents a concession to the Palestinians.” In return, according to the Times, the Palestinians “are conceding a six-month pause in their regular condemnation of Israel in resolutions over issues like Gaza, the West Bank and education.” That works out to a quarter of a billion dollars for six months of abeyance of condemning Israel. After that the Palestinians would be free to resume using Unesco as their megaphone.