For the first time, Palestine is participating at the UNESCO meeting, held in Oman’s capital, Masqat, with the participation of secretary-generals of the national committees of the UNESCO in the Arab world.The sessions will be discussing Mediterranean Strategies Polices for the period between 2014 and 2021. Strategies and budgets for the period between 2012 and 2017 will also be discussed during the three-day deliberations.
Ismail At-Talawi, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Commission For Education, Culture and Science, is representing Palestine as a state.
During his opening speech, At-Talawi expressed his gratitude to the Arab states that strongly supported Palestine when it filed for full UNESCO membership, and also thanked western countries that supported the move.
He said that the Palestinian people have a unique scientific, cultural and historical heritage, and are determined to live in peace and security.
“The Palestinians want to participate in enriching educational, scientific and cultural activities of the UNESCO”, At-Talawi stated, “The UNESCO plays an essential role in protecting the heritage and cultures of all nations around the world, the Palestinian cultural heritage is being stolen by the Israeli occupation”.
He also slammed Israel for its ongoing violations against the Palestinians, especially in Jerusalem, and the constant attempts to wipe out Arab and Islamic historic sites.
“Israel is acting as if it is above International Law”, the Palestinian official said, “Israel is violating all international treaties, especially those regarding protecting historic sites, including the agreement of protecting cultural and natural sites signed in 1972”.
He further stated that the UNESCO cannot implement the strategic goal of “international citizenship in the Middle East as long as Israel continues its illegal occupation of Palestine, and several Arab territories.
The official also slammed the newly approved school curriculum in Israel that disregards the Arab and Islamic history, and demanded the UNESCO “to act on stopping Israel’s violations against the people and the land”.
It is worth mentioning that the sessions will include deliberations on basic strategies that are based on the efforts to reduce poverty in Africa, achieve equalities between males and females, and implementing an agenda based on comprehensive peace, constant development and equal human right.
Palestine won the UNESCO membership vote in October of last year, and was admitted as the newest member of the international organization.
Immediately after the vote, the United States froze its funding to the UNESCO, and considered the vote as “reckless and anti-Israel”. 107 states voted for Palestine while 14 voted against the bid.
Israel also froze all tax and customs money it collects on behalf of the P.A on border terminals in the West Bank to punish the P.A. for this move.
On June 29 of this year, the UNESCO voted to designate the Nativity Church in Bethlehem and the Pilgrimage Route as world heritage sites. Israel and the United States slammed the move and said it was “unilateral”.