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Resources updated between Monday, October 24, 2016 and Sunday, October 30, 2016

October 28, 2016

Slide from the General Assembly presentation of UN official Rima Khalaf.

On October 25, 2016, Ms. Rima Khalaf, head of the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, told the members of the General Assembly that she supported Palestinian "armed struggle." She made the remarks in the context of presenting her report on the "Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources."

In her report, Ms. Khalaf – who once claimed that Hitler sought to facilitate the emigration of Jews to "Palestine" – blamed Israel for everything from the "loss of wildlife" in Gaza to the dropout rate of Palestinian students in East Jerusalem. Nowhere in her report is Hamas or the Palestinian Authority, or their continuous campaign of terror, mentioned as bearing any responsibility for the living conditions of Palestinians.

In her oral presentation to the General Assembly's Second Committee, (a committee of the whole composed of all 193 member states), she reaffirmed "the inalienable right of all peoples to self-determination, freedom, and independence...and also the legitimacy of their struggle for liberation from colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle," before lauding Desmond Tutu's comparison of Israel to the former South African apartheid government.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian representative would later echo this senior UN official's apartheid comparisons.

  • Iran: "...[P]articularly in the West Bank the extensions and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land lie at the heart of apartheid Israel policies and are human rights violations."
  • Palestinian Representative: "Israel has managed to establish a system of apartheid..."
  • Saudi Arabia: "United Nations reports mention a great number of blatant violations carried out by the Israeli occupiers as part of their military, the bellicose policies against the Palestinian people. This is a kind of apartheid."


Following Ms. Khalaf's extreme one-sided presentation, the representative of the "State of Palestine" suggested the report was not one-sided enough. He objected to the use of the phrase "Israeli security forces" instead of "Israeli occupying forces," and the use of "illegal armed Israeli settlers" instead of just "armed Israeli settlers," since, on the ground that allegedly "all settlers, without exception, practice violence."

The Palestinian representative went on to describe accusations of antisemitism against critics of Israel as "diplomatic terrorism." In his words:

"Israel does not allow representatives of the United Nations or other international organizations to work freely in the occupied Palestinian territories...This is diplomatic terrorism which is characterized by accusations of antisemitism against all of those who criticize Israel."

During the same meeting, the representative of Syria complained of Israel's assistance to "terrorists." He was referring to Israel's humanitarian efforts to save and medically treat Syrians trying to escape from Assad's brutality through the Golan Heights. He claimed:

"... the Israeli occupying authorities ... are providing logistic and medical help to the mercenaries and terrorists of Nusra Front... And also there are recent reports that say that the Israeli authorities are trying to talk the Syrian people in these zones out of their land and try to lure them out by way of migration."

Saudi Arabia made the inflammatory announcement that "Jewish people have no right to the mosque," referencing earlier comments on the "al-Aqsa Mosque" which sits in Jerusalem on Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount. In the tradition of classic antisemitic revisionism, the Saudi Arabian representative told the UN "any reference to the Torah in these places is based on historic 'tales' preached by the occupiers of Palestine."

Top UN Official Justifies Palestinian "Armed Struggle" to the General Assembly Article

The International Criminal Court

On October 27, 2016, Kimberly Prost, Chef de Cabinet of the President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), briefed UN member states and civil society on ongoing developments at the ICC prior to the President's presentation of the annual report of the ICC to the General Assembly on October 31, 2016. The ICC has been rocked in October by successive announcements of intent to withdraw from the Court by Burundi, South Africa, and Gamibia.

At the meeting, Prost asserted that the ICC was not a "political" institution and therefore would not respond "politically" to the withdrawals, but would instead issue a statement emphasizing the court's mandate and the court's "progress" in pursuing justice.

Prost noted that prior to its announcement of intent to withdraw, South Africa had initiated discussions to clarify or amend the process by which the ICC and member states consult after the ICC requests the arrest or surrender of a person on the territory of a member state (Article 97 of the Rome Statute). (South Africa notably refused to turnover Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to the ICC when Bashir visited South Africa in June 2015, despite two ICC arrest warrants against him for genocide and war crimes.) Prost asserted that despite South Africa's intent to withdraw from the Court, conversations regarding changes to the consultation process would continue.

Member states in attendance at the meeting, including Argentina, Italy, Liechtenstein, and the Netherlands, expressed a desire to issue statements in support of the ICC, and to have high-level political leaders attend the Assembly of State Parties of the ICC scheduled November 16-24, 2016, to indicate their support for the Court in light of the recent withdrawals.

As African States Flee International Criminal Court, ICC Plots Response at UN Development

On October 27, 2016, the United Nations Disarmament and International Security Committee began voting on a series of draft resolutions dealing with nuclear weapons. Among the draft resolutions were two dealing with the Middle East, entitled "Establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Region of the Middle East" submitted by Egypt, and "The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East," cosponsored by numerous Arab countries.

The Egyptian resolution was adopted without a vote. Unusually for the subject, it made no explicit reference to Israel.

The second resolution, on nuclear proliferation, is set for a vote on October 28, 2016. It singles out Israel, calling on it to place all of its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency's "safeguards." No mention is made of Iran and its repeated non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it had signed and ratified prior to its program to attain nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, Iran submitted a statement on the subject in which it accused the "Israeli regime" and the United States as the "only obstacle to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, while blaming the "aggressive and expansionist policies of the Israeli regime" as the sources of "serious threats posed to regional and international peace and security."

Iran Blames Israel and USA for Nuclear Proliferation as Nuclear Weapons Votes Held at UN Article

October 27, 2016

Volunteers searching for victims after Syrian/Russian airstrikes, October 24, 2016

Syrian/Russian Airstrike on School Kill 35, Including 11 Schoolchildren Document

Arrest of Cuban protesters (File photo)

The Obama Administration Now Shilling for Cuban Dictatorship at UN Article

October 26, 2016

The U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba

The United States on Wednesday abstained for the first time from a United Nations General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for an end to a U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, after opposing such measures every year for 24 years.

For the 25th time, the 193-member General Assembly adopted the resolution with 191 votes in favor. Israel, which opposed the resolution last year, also abstained on Wednesday. Such resolutions are non-binding, but can carry political weight.

Communist-run Cuba and the United States, former Cold War foes, began normalizing relations in 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama has taken steps to ease trade and travel restrictions on Cuba, but only the U.S. Congress can lift the full embargo.

The Republican-controlled Congress has resisted Obama's call to lift Washington's economic embargo after more than 50 years. Republican critics say Obama is making too many concessions to Cuba for too little in return, especially on human rights.

The U.N. General Assembly applauded when U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power announced prior to the vote that the United States would abstain.

"Abstaining on this resolution does not mean that the United States agrees with all of the policies and practices of the Cuban government. We do not," Power told the General Assembly.

"We are profoundly concerned by the serious human rights violations that the Cuban government continues to commit with impunity against its own people," she said.

Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez described the abstention as a "positive step for the future of improving relations between the United States and Cuba."

Rodriguez said in September that damage from U.S. sanctions between April 2015 and March 2016 amounted to $4.6 billion and to $125.9 billion since the embargo's inception more than 50 years ago.

In March, Obama made the first visit to Havana by a U.S. president in 88 years. His trip was made possible by his breakthrough agreement with Cuban President Raul Castro in December 2014 to cast aside decades of hostility that began soon after Cuba's 1959 revolution.

Since the opening, Obama has repeatedly used his executive powers to relax trade and travel restrictions, while pushing Cuba to accelerate market-style reforms and boost political and economic freedoms.

The U.N. resolution adopted on Wednesday takes note of the steps taken by Obama as positive but "still limited in scope." It urges the United States to repeal or invalidate the embargo on Cuba as soon as possible.

Obama no longer defending America at UN. Refuses to vote against General Assembly condemnation of Cuba embargo Article

UNESCO Headquarters

Israel Recalling UNESCO Ambassador Article

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, October 26, 2016

Obama no longer defending America at UN. Refuses to vote against UN condemnation of Cuba embargo Development

The International Criminal Court

What Does the Future Hold for the International Criminal Court? Article

The International Criminal Court

Gambia Announces Withdrawal from International Criminal Court Article

UNESCO World Heritage Committee voting on a resolution ignoring Jewish and Christian ties to Old City of Jerusalem, Paris, October 26, 2016

UNESCO Adopts Another Resolution Ignoring Jewish Link to Temple Mount Article

October 25, 2016

Saudi woman driving (file photo)

The woman, together with two male passengers, was handed over to the vice squad after intoxicating substances were found in the car. The three will be indicted for illegal driving and gender mixing.

Meanwhile, the Shura Council, Saudi Arabia's parliament, will convene next week to discuss a bill to "foster an environment conducive to legalize female driving."

Sultan al Sultan MP has asked the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the Interior Ministry to carry out a study into the matter.

Speaking to Al Hayat newspaper, he said that his proposal was meant to alleviate difficulties of transportation that families incur given the fact that women are not allowed to drive.

In addition, he said, the cost of hiring a chauffeur often deters women from entering the labor market.

"That's why female driving has become a social issue that requires review in light of the social and security situation, on top of the behavioral consequences that children face by virtue of having a stranger around all the time," he said, providing an economic motive to boot: "More than a million foreigners work here as chauffeurs, sending their countries more than 1 billion riyal [$250 million] monthly. We would be better off if this sum was invested in developing our country."

"We need to provide for a social environment, especially when it comes to young drivers, and to provide for an acceptable driving culture," he added.

Also on Sunday, the head of the Saudi Chamber of Commerce in the kingdom's south-east said that women "make up 50 per cent of university graduates but only 22 per cent of the workforce."

He said he hoped that Prince Mohammed's Vision 2030 plan would help reduce that disparity.

Saudi Woman Arrested for Driving Document

October 24, 2016

Senator Ted Cruz.

"A demonstration of moral courage occurred two weeks ago in a most unlikely place: the UNESCO Executive Board meeting in Paris. During a contentious vote on the "Occupied Palestine" resolution, Mexico's Ambassador to UNESCO walked out. Andrés Roemer reportedly decided he could not support a resolution that attempts to expunge thousands of years of Jerusalem's Jewish identity.

His audacity cost him his job-but it also focused attention on this resolution. Mexico decided to change its stance to abstention and intended to call for a re-vote to formally withdraw support. Brazil also indicated it had serious reservations and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Chairman of the Board Michael Worbs voiced concerns, raising hopes that another vote would allow countries to reconsider their support, or that final passage would be delayed. Italy's Prime Minister subsequently criticized the text and added his country would encourage other European colleagues to oppose such measures in the future.

Last Wednesday morning that opportunity could have arisen. But then 'western countries' lobbied against the second vote on the grounds other resolutions passed by consensus might be re-opened, and the resolution passed. While the identity of these western countries is not yet known, we do know that at the very least the United States did not actively lobby for the re-vote. In other words, when given an unprecedented opportunity to rally support for Israel at UNESCO as nations that have voted reflexively in support of the Palestinians shifted their positions, America chose to look the other way.

The Obama administration has attempted to explain that America was powerless to prevent the resolution's passage because our laws have prohibited funding to UNESCO after it accepted 'Palestine' as a member in 2011, and that the solution is to restore funding. But other UN entities have not followed UNESCO's lead because they disagree on the Palestinian issue, but rather because they fear the loss of the US taxpayer dollars that pay their salaries-leverage America can and should exploit. Additionally, support for the Palestinians no longer seems to be an article of faith for a number of countries such as Mexico and Brazil, not to mention our NATO ally Italy, and they now might be inclined to join with the US in supporting Israel.

But this is not an opportunity the Obama administration appears interested in seizing. The President's Jerusalem policy was made clear a few weeks ago when the White House issued a "corrected" version of Mr. Obama's remarks at Simon Peres' funeral on Mount Herzl, site of Israel's national cemetery and Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, the correction being to cross out "Israel" after 'Jerusalem' in the header identifying the location of the ceremony. It was of paramount importance to make the point that the American President does not consider Mount Herzl-and so Jerusalem-sovereign Israeli territory.

This rather clumsy attempt to erase Israel seems a tactic better suited to the Islamic Republic of Iran than the United States of America, and it is evidence that the Obama administration is not done with the Jewish state. And as it has been so often over its millennia of history, Jerusalem is going to be ground zero."

Sen. Ted Cruz Op-Ed: America's Missed UNESCO Opportunity Article

Bashar Jaafari (2nd from left), UN Headquarters, New York, October 24, 2016

UN Secretary-General Honors Assad's UN Mouthpiece for 10 years of "Service"

Distributed on October 14, 2016, UN Headquarters New York, on the occasion of Wonder Woman being named "United Nations Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls"

Free Wonder Woman T-shirts & Posters, Courtesy Today's UN $$ Sinkhole

UN Peacekeepers.

"Three people have been killed during protests against the UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic.

Peacekeepers opened fire when demonstrators tried to force their way into the UN headquarters, says a BBC reporter, who saw three bodies being taken away in a police vehicle.

The UN denies using live bullets and says its soldiers only used tear gas.

A group of Central Africans wants the UN mission to withdraw, saying it is failing to protect people.

The peacekeepers were deployed after civil war which broke out in 2013 when then-President Francois Bozize was ousted by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

But it has been hit by several allegations that its troops have been sexually abusing children.

A coalition of civil society organisations called on residents of the capital, Bangui, to stay at home in protest at the UN mission in the CAR, known by its French acronym, Minusca.

The coalition says Minusca is supposed to protect civilians and tackle armed groups in the city.

'But wherever the UN forces go there is violence,' protest organiser Gervais Lakosso told the AFP news agency.

The BBC's BBC Max Allaroum in Bangui says the deadly shooting took place at the main square in Bangui, not far from the UN headquarters.

The UN soldiers tried first to disperse the protesters by shooting in the air. They then shot at the crowd when it became more agitated and advanced on the building.

Minusca spokesman Vladimir Monteiro told our reporter the UN only fired of tear gas to disperse the demonstration.

Another UN official told Reuters news agency there had been a brief exchange of fire with unknown gunmen but did not confirm any casualties.

Numerous armed group still operate across the country - both Seleka and Christian self-defence forces set up to tackle them, known as anti-Balaka."

UN Peacekeepers Open Fire, Kill Demonstrators in Central African Republic. Article

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arriving in Haiti

If the United Nations caused 10,000 deaths and 700,000 cholera infections after Haiti's January 12, 2010 disastrous earthquake, then it stands to reason that a continued association with the UN after six years of inaction on the cholera, plus the ravages of Hurricane Matthew, could only lead to more Haitian deaths.

Former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, flew over the city of Aux Cayes, in southern Haiti on Saturday, October 16, 2016, and he visited a high school where some people are sheltered. The wet mattresses from Hurricane Matthew had hardly dried before Mr. Ban Ki-moon and his associates began to plot for the UN to prolong its mandate in Haiti.

The UN was due to leave in six months, now it will be a year. There should be no more need for a UN force, now that it has trained about 16,000 Haitian police as its replacement. There is, however, money in cholera and rigged elections. As journalist Kim Ives predicted, the pretext put forward by the UN is that it will need to stay until Haiti elects its next government. The hurricane has caused the postponement of Haiti's first-round presidential elections and some legislative elections to November 20, 2016. These will be a retake of the rigged elections of 2015 that were financed mostly by the United States through the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Only two months ago, Ban Ki-moon was beginning to act contrite for exacerbating the effects of the earthquake by plaguing the island nation with cholera. Together with his UN Special Envoy, Bill Clinton and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he had prevented a representative government from burgeoning and burdened Haiti's fragile infrastructure with thousands of UN troops from Southeast Asia, where cholera is endemic. Mr. Ban Ki-moon acknowledged in mid-August 2016 that Nepalese troops had infected Haiti and attributed this admission to a report on August 8 from UN advisor Philip Alston, a professor of law at New York University.

This sudden reversal, after years of refusal to take responsibility for the cholera, was most likely occasioned, not by Alston's report, but by my article on January 8, 2016. This article revealed to the general public that, even while the UN successfully fought two lawsuits by Haitians, it was infecting Haiti yet again, after 2012, with cholera from Bangladesh. Having closely followed the scientific literature on cholera, I reported the news that Dr. Andrew Camilli's team at Tufts University had discovered a cholera virus called ICP2 in Haitian patients that could only have accompanied cholera bacteria in the untreated wastes of Bangladeshi soldiers.

The first group of soldiers from Bangladesh, an all-female unit, joined the UN police contingent in Haiti in 2012. Alston's report also stated that sanitation at the UN bases in Haiti had remained shoddy even after 2010. In my view, the AP story on this report in the New York Times, which pretended to be critical of the UN, was nothing but a cynical preparation of the public opinion for the news that additional cholera strains from Bangladesh currently exist in Haiti.

As of this writing, UN missions have infected at least eight other countries with cholera. They are: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Darfur, South Sudan, Mali, Central African Republic (CAR), Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Abyei. In addition, the UN has always lied about the cholera in Haiti.

In 2010, the UN was first to learn that it had infected Haiti with Vibrio cholerae from Nepal, but it kept quiet about it. The initial cholera infections in Haitians appeared five days after 1,280 Nepalese troops were returned to Haiti from training in Kathmandu plus a 10-day home leave throughout Nepal in the midst of a cholera epidemic. In Haiti, the soldiers were set up in three camps from which their untreated wastes were dumped in waterways that fed the Artibonite River. This contamination amounted to more than one bathtub of pure choleric waste with billions to trillions of cholera bacteria per liter being dumped into the river! Without this, the cholera bacteria in the Artibonite would never have reached the concentrations to kill residents downstream of these camps within hours. It is almost certain that several Nepalese troops became violently ill on base and that the UN plus the medical personnel who treated the troops, probably from the nearest hospital in the city Mirebalais, have covered up these events.

Immediately after the onset of the epidemic, the UN began to clamor for money and for oral cholera vaccines via its Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). As part of a study to develop vaccines against the cholera, the UN demonstrated to itself conclusively, well before any other molecular genetics studies, that the cholera in Haiti was identical to cholera from Nepal. This work was done by a UN researcher who reported it to Dr. Dong Wook Kim at the International Vaccine Institute, in South Korea. The UN also kept this secret to itself. Incidentally, South Korea, which is also involved in Haiti's sweatshop complex at Caracol, happens to be the country where Ban Ki-moon originates.

The nightmare is upon us again. One week after Hurricane Matthew, the UN's World Health Organization (WHO) donated one million doses of oral cholera vaccines to Haiti, although the Haitian government had instead asked for help with infrastructure to provide clean drinking water to the population. The vaccines represent a gold rush for Deputy UN Special Envoy Paul Farmer's NGO Partners in Health (PIH), which will get paid to administer the vaccines. As in 2010, the mainstream media, especially The Guardian and NPR, are vigorously promoting vaccines and functioning as bullhorns for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has financed, not only the development of the oral cholera vaccine at the International Vaccine Institute but also its manufacture under the name Shanchol by a subsidiary of the French pharmaceutical giant, Sanofi Pasteur.

The current promotion of oral cholera vaccines is a deceitful campaign motivated by pure greed. Vaccination against cholera in Haiti right now is worse than useless. First, even inefficacious vaccines are risky, because the vaccines used on people in the Third World usually contain 6 to 30-fold higher concentrations than the WHO upper limit of thiomersal, a mercury-based preservative that might be linked to autism. Secondly, no one knows which cholera bacteria are in Haiti! The cholera strain identified six years ago has now changed to the point where vaccines manufactured against it will not work at all. These vaccines will certainly be absolutely useless against the strains of cholera from Bangladesh. Finally, even under the best circumstances, when Shanchol is designed and used against a cholera with recently sequenced DNA, protection is poor to nonexistent. A field trial in Bangladesh in 2011 found that the vaccine conferred only 45 percent protection in all age groups after one year, including only about 17 percent protection in children under five, who are those most likely to die from cholera. The results published in 2015 for a field trial in Haiti, passing as a vaccination and poorly monitored, claimed 57 percent protection after one year, but only people older than 12 were inoculated.

Haitian authorities should be further advised that some of the supposed vaccinations might actually be drug trials for new vaccines. This would be nothing short of experimentation on Haitians as a large field laboratory. A number of microbiologists based in the Boston area, at Harvard and Tufts Universities, have developed and patented several vaccines against cholera. Most vaccines are meant ultimately for the US army, which is their biggest market, but they are usually tested on poor brown people in places like India, Bangladesh, Mexico, and Haiti. When they are, it is often without regard for the Declaration of Helsinki ethical guidelines, which should govern such field trials, and the vaccine formulations and methods of preparation for Third World people are always cheaper and riskier than those for US army personnel. After 12 years of rapes, murders, massacres, child trafficking, and epidemics, it is evident that the UN mission (MINUSTAH) in Haiti is an army of military occupation for the US, France, and Canada, with all the attendant implications. The UN has had six years to get rid of a cholera epidemic that could have been eradicated in months with proper epidemiological surveillance, care, and the provision of clean water. Instead, the UN-associated medical non-governmental organizations (NGO) like PIH and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have achieved a completely unacceptable 1.4 percent mortality rate from a non-lethal disease that can be treated with simple rehydration. By contrast, Cuban health workers in Haiti typically get mortality rates of 0.1 percent or less. At this point, the best thing the UN can do for Haiti is remove itself and pay for its crimes with the funds to repair the country's wastewater-treatment and potable-water infrastructure. Much of this was destroyed, not by natural disasters but by sabotage since 2010.

As Ban Ki-moon's convoy traveled in Aux Cayes for his public relations tour on October 16, angry Haitians shouted at the UN trucks, "Get out of here! And take your food and water with you!" Things being as they are with the mainstream press, the AFP/France 24 translator reported instead that the irate Haitians, who were in return attacked with tear gas by UN troops, had demanded food. In a speech later that day, Ban Ki-moon said he was "disappointed by the response of the international community" that has donated only $15 million of the $120 million he had requested. I believe it is $15 million too many. Nevertheless, I salute the international community for becoming wiser to the UN. More than anything, I salute the ordinary, supposedly uneducated, Haitians who instinctively know that the name for those who would accept water and vaccines from an occupying army is: deceased.

Haiti's Cholera Spreading, Money Grubbing, United Nations Plague Article

An Orthodox Jew stands facing the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.

"Just a week after the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) ratified a controversial resolution that ignored Jewish and Christian ties to the Temple Mount, the body's World Heritage Committee is set to vote on a similar text.

The UNESCO heritage committee's 21 member states are expected to vote on Wednesday in Paris on the resolution, entitled, 'Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls.' As with last week's contentious text, the latest draft is expected to pass with a comfortable majority.

A draft of the resolution obtained by The Times of Israel once again refers to the Temple Mount compound solely by its Muslim names, 'Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif,' and defines it only as 'a Muslim holy site of worship.' As the site of the Biblical temples, the mount is the holiest place in Judaism.

While last week's text did include one passage with a mention of the importance of Jerusalem's Old City for 'the three monotheistic religions,' the heritage committee's resolution text includes no references to Jewish or Christian ties to the area's holy sites.

According to Israeli officials, there is some chance that the Arab nations sponsoring the resolution - Kuwait, Lebanon and Tunisia - will agree to insert a similar passage in the final draft, in order to ensure that Western countries vote for the resolution, or at least abstain.

Last week's resolution referred to Israel as 'the occupying power' at the holy sites. The new resolution does not. Nor does the new version put quotation marks around the Jewish term 'Western Wall,' a punctuation seen in Israel as further bolstering the original resolution's disdain of a Jewish connection to Judaism's holiest site. Israel's envoy to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, said over the weekend that these seemingly minor changes in so hostile a text nonetheless mark significant concessions on the part of Arab states, which would not have been achievable only a few months ago.

Last week's resolution, which was approved at the UNESCO committee stage on October 13 with 24 'yes' votes, six 'no' votes and 26 abstentions, and then formally confirmed by UNESCO's executive on October 18, sparked vociferous condemnation in Israel, as well as from UNESCO's own director and several foreign leaders. A chorus of Israeli politicians, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but including left-wing lawmakers, slammed the decision as absurd and UNESCO as detached from reality.

Immediately after the committee stage vote, the agency's director-general, Irina Bokova, issued a rare statement rebuking member states for the vote. To 'deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity' of the Temple Mount, she stated.

Mexico and Brazil, which voted in favor of the resolution, later expressed regret and vowed to abstain in future votes on the matter. Italy, which abstained, said it would henceforth vote against similar resolutions.

'To say that the Jewish People has no connection to Jerusalem is like saying that the sun creates darkness,' Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told Netanyahu during a phone call over the weekend.

Renzi promised to try to convince other European governments to adopt his position, according to a read-out of the call issued by Netanyahu's office.

'Prime Minister Netanyahu said that even the theater of the absurd has limits and noted that it was important that countries which respected both themselves and the truth not participate in it. He added that it was not a political question but one of historical facts,' the statement read.

Netanyahu views Renzi's position as 'a welcome process of changing direction in extreme votes against Israel in international forums,' the statement continued. 'The change in UN institutions will take some years and will also entail disappointments but these are – without doubt – the first signs of a welcome change.'

Italy, Brazil and Mexico are not members of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, and thus will not be able to vote on Wednesday.

The 21 nations that will vote on the text are: Finland, Poland, Portugal, Croatia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Cuba, Jamaica, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Angola and Tanzania.

According to Shama-Hacohen, Netanyahu instructed him to work to convince countries likely to abstain to go further and cast a vote against the resolution, arguing that an abstention is akin to support.

'If the Palestinians continue to adhere to this dangerous path, which is actually a diplomatic jihad against the Jewish people, Judaism and Christianity, they will discover that last week's surprises from Mexico and Italy are only the beginning,' he insisted.

Shama-Hacohen added that an ambassador from a leading Arab state had told him he did not understand what the Palestinians were trying to accomplish with their resolutions, but that political pressures meant his government was forced to tow the Palestinian line.

New UNESCO Resolution Erasing Jewish Ties to the Temple Mount Set for a Vote Article