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Netanyahu Rejects Invitation To UN-Sponsored Anti-Semitism Conference

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected an invitation to participate in a United Nations conference on Anti-Semitism.

The conference was held on Wednesday at the United Nations headquarters in New York under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

“While I commend all efforts to combat antisemitism, I have decided not to participate in this week’s UNESCO conference on antisemitism due to the organization’s persistent and egregious bias against Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued on Wednesday. “Since 2009, UNESCO has passed 71 resolutions condemning Israel and only 2 resolutions condemning all other countries combined. This is simply outrageous.”

Israel announced in late December 2017 that it would withdraw from UNESCO, several weeks after the United States announced its decision to withdraw, citing “continuing anti-Israel bias.”  The U.S. decision also came days after the General Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution rejecting any recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the wake of the pronouncement by President Donald Trump two weeks earlier. In recent years, UNESCO has passed resolutions rejecting Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and placed the Cave of the Patriarchs and the Old City of Hebron in the State of Palestine on the list of world heritage sites in danger.

“If UNESCO wants to remove this mark of shame, it must do more than host a conference on antisemitism,” Netanyahu said. “It must stop practicing antisemitism. And it must stop the absurdity of passing resolutions which deny the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, between the Jewish people and our eternal capital Jerusalem,” he also said.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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