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UNESCO rejects Israel sovereignty claims over al-Quds

The file photo shows a view of al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has approved a resolution that describes Israel as an “occupying power” and rejects its sovereignty claims over all of Jerusalem al-Quds.

The new resolution, passed with 22 countries in favor on Tuesday, says Israel has no legal or historical rights anywhere in Jerusalem al-Quds. 

"Any action taken by Israel, the occupying power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the city of Jerusalem (al-Quds) are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever," it said.

The resolution also describes as null and void any decision by the Israeli parliament, its supreme court, or any other Israeli authority that pertains to Jerusalem al-Quds.

The measure also slams Israel’s excavations in East Jerusalem al-Quds and the Old City.

The resolution was approved despite Israel’s intense attempts to exert pressure on members of the UN body to vote against it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier made phone calls to European leaders in a bid to convince them to reject the resolution.

The resolution has drawn Tel Aviv’s ire. It had reportedly been drafted with the help of Germany.

Germany and several other European countries have been troubled for months by Israel's new settlement plans across the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last year, UNESCO approved a motion that endorsed the right of Palestinians to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and slammed Israeli provocations around the holy site.

The Tel Aviv regime has tried to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem al-Quds over the past decades by constructing settlements, destroying historical sites, and expelling the local Palestinian population.

Palestinians say the Israeli measures are aimed at paving the way for the Judaization of the city.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state in the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds and the besieged Gaza Strip, with East al-Quds as the capital.

In December 2016, the UN Security Council adopted a historic resolution that condemned Israeli settlement activities as a “flagrant violation of international law.”

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Approved 14-0 in the 15-member UN Security Council, Resolution 2334 (2016) calls on Israel to immediately and completely cease all settlement activities on occupied Palestinian territory, including the West Bank.

A general view shows buildings under construction in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in the occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on March 7, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The United States, Israel’s staunchest ally, uncharacteristically decided not to wield its veto power and to allow the adoption of the text with a mere abstention. The Tel Aviv regime had lobbied extensively to prevent the ratification of that resolution, too.

The occupied territories have witnessed new tensions ever since Israeli forces imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.

More than 300 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces in the tensions since the beginning of October 2015. A number of Israelis have also been killed.

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