UNESCO Urges Israel to Ease Access for Humanitarian Organizations in Gaza Strip

Posted on May 17, 2017

UNESCO adopted a resolution which urges Israel to open and facilitate access to the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli tank drives next to Erez Border crossing between the Gaza strip and Southern Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012.

An Israeli tank drives next to Erez Border crossing between the Gaza strip and Southern Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) May 2, 2017  — The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Tuesday adopted a resolution which urges Israel to open and facilitate access to the Gaza Strip for humanitarian organizations.

“The Executive Board… deplores the continuous Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip, which harmfully affects the free and sustained movement of personnel, students and humanitarian relief items and requests Israel to immediately ease this closure,” the resolution read.

Earlier in the day, UNESCO’s executive committee passed a resolution on Israel, referred to as “the occupying power” in the document, which criticizes the nation’s activity in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. In particular, the resolution qualified Israel’s activity in East Jerusalem as illegal under international law and urged for the appointment of a permanent representative responsible for monitoring the fields of UNESCO’s competence.

“All legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith,” the text read.

According to media reports, the document, which was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan, was supported by 22 states, including Russia, China, and Sweden. Meanwhile, 10 countries, including Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, voted against the document and 23 abstained from voting.

Relations between Israel and Palestine have been tense for decades. Palestinians seek diplomatic recognition for independent statehood in the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which is partially occupied by Israel, and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government refuses to recognize Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity, and has continued to build settlements within the occupied areas, despite objections from the United Nations.