Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Israel Get UNESCO seat!

Israel's election to UNESCO is a huge development. For Israel, it means a slight normalization in her treatment by a UN body, and an opportunity to contribute in an area in which Israel specializes: the preservation of antiquities and ancient sites. For the UN, it's an even bigger development: UNESCO used to be quite corrupt and hostile to free expression (so much so that the US, the UK and Singapore withdrew for many years). This is a real improvement.

Diplomatic Success

Silvan Shalom. Another step forward

Israel gets UNESCO committee seat
The UNESCO World Heritage convention elects Israeli representative to sit on its prestigious committee; nomination supported by 80 countries
Roee Nahmias

Israel has been selected as member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Committee, a small international panel that consists of 20 members.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said he views the decision as a significant diplomatic accomplishment.

In a vote held Monday at a UNESCO convention in France, Israel was picked to participate in the committee. The representatives of 80 countries supported Israel's nomination for the post.

Israel will be represented at the commitee by architect Michael Turner, chairman of the Israeli World Heritage Committee.

Since it signed the World Heritage Treaty in 2000, Israel has seen several considerable achievements in the field of heritage preservation. Five sites in Israel were declared to be "world heritage sites," including Masada, Acre (Acco,) and Tel Aviv's "White City" (downtown area featuring a high concentration of Bauhaus-style buildings.)

'Step toward normalization'

Sources in the Foreign Ministry expressed satisfaction over the decision, which they said was the result of a 2-year ongoing, intense diplomatic effort by Foreign Minister Shalom and the International Organizations Branch at the ministry.

The sources pointed to the prestige of the UNESCO committee, which is affiliated with the U.N., and said Israel's membership in the committee will contribute to a normalization in the state's international status.

Foreign Minister Shalom congratulated Turner for his election, and said he considered this move to be a further step forward for Israel.

In addition to Israel, delegates from other countries, including the United states and Canada, were elected for the committee.


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