TEL AVIV – UNESCO chief Irina Bokova has received “death threats” after criticizing an Arab-backed resolution denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, Israel’s ambassador to the UN organization said on Monday.
“The director general has received death threats and her protection has had to be reinforced,” Carmel Shama HaCohen told Israel Radio.
“These threats were made after her criticism” of two resolutions in which Israel was slammed for “transgressions” at Jewish sites which are referred only by their Muslim names.
Cohen said Bokova accused Arab countries of “appalling conduct” over the drafts. The resulting death threats have led to beefing up the UNESCO chief’s security.
In a statement distancing herself from the resolutions, Bokova wrote “nowhere more than in Jerusalem do Jewish, Christian and Muslim heritage and traditions share space.”
Earlier Monday, Cohen unsuccessfully attempted to lobby the UNESCO board to delay ratifying the resolution.
Mexico’s ambassador to UNESCO Andres Roemer, who is Jewish, walked out of the vote in Paris in an apparent protest against his country’s support of the resolution. Cohen urged the ambassador not to follow through on his decision to resign, telling him he is needed as a friend of Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the resolution a “theater of the absurd.”
Twenty-four countries voted in favor of the resolution while six, including the U.S., Germany and Britain, voted against and another 26 abstained.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett called the resolution a denial of history that “gives a boost to terrorism.” On Friday, Israel told Bokova that it was suspending its cooperation with UNESCO.