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Monday, April 15, 2013

UNESCO silent as Hamas destroys heritage site; Obama wants to fund UNESCO despite sequester

Hamas has partially destroyed a 3,000-year old seaport in Gaza that is a UNESCO World Heritage site in order to expand a military training facility (Hat Tip: Israel Daily News Stream). UNESCO has greeted the move with silence. Meanwhile, with the United States trillions of dollars in debt and with basic necessities for Americans being subject to automatic sequester, the Obama administration has asked to restore $77.7 million in funding that was taken away from UNESCO when it made 'Palestine' a member (Hat Tip: Monica S).

This is from the first link.
Earlier last month, amid overwhelming criticism from public figures and nongovernmental organizations, the military wing of the Islamic movement of Hamas, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, bulldozed a part of the ancient Anthedon Harbor in northern Gaza along the Mediterranean Sea. The Brigades damaged the harbor in order to expand its military training zone, which was initially opened on the location in 2002, according to Ejla.
The Anthedon seaport, which dates back over 3,000 years to the Mycenaean era, is considered one of the most important sites in the Middle East and is the oldest harbor in Gaza.
It was designated an international heritage site by UNESCO in 2012. The location was discovered in 1997 on the space of 180,000 square meters. It contains mosaic floors with historical pillars from the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic ages.
In a press statement, the Hamas-run Ministry of Tourism said that it is the only responsible authority over the location, and it would not permit harm to the monuments.
“Due to rising population in the region, the ministry appreciates the urgent need for using new pieces of land. This is why the ministry has agreed with the different responsible parties on using a limited part of the location temporarily in a way that won’t harm the underground monuments there in any way,” the statement read.
But Deputy Minister of Tourism in Gaza Muhammad Khela told Al-Monitor that the location was taken for military use and not demographic purposes.
“We can’t stand as an obstacle in the way of Palestinian resistance; we are all a part of a resistance project, yet we promise that the location will be limitedly used without harming it at all,” Khela explained.
Incredibly, Hamas is blaming UNESCO.
The main problem with the location, Khela said, was that his government doesn’t have enough funds for excavation, which is why it was covered with sand for protection. Khela shifted responsibility onto the shoulders of UNESCO.
“If the location was excavated already, I don’t think it would have been possible for anyone to take it over,” Khela explained, adding that “it should be UNESCO and other donating groups' job to do so.”
However, Ejla from UNESCO refuted this assertion, stressing that his agency is not a donor and cannot grant financial support to such projects. 
“We are an organization that receives funds itself so we can hold our services up, but we can’t fund anyone,” he noted.
But at UNESCO's biannual meeting, which runs until April 26, Anthedon Harbor does not even appear on the agenda.
In an urgent letter sent today to UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova (see letter below), UN Watch demanded immediate action to stop the Hamas bulldozing of a 3000-year-old Gaza harbor for use as a terrorist training camp, as reported today by Al Monitor Palestine Pulse. A copy was also sent to EU foreign minister Catherine Ashton calling on the EU to take action.


Although the biannual UNESCO meeting, which runs until April 26, lists five agenda items concerning Palestinian issues—which US Ambassador Killion has described as “highly politicized” and designed to “single out Israel”—there is currently no scheduled discussion to address the month-long Hamas bulldozing of the proposed heritage site. UN Watch’s letter as sent today to Ms. Bokova and Lady Ashton follows below.
But none of this will stop the Obama administration from trying to throw more American tax dollars at UNESCO.
[O]n Wednesday the administration renewed the attempt, including in its FY2014 State and Foreign Operations budget proposal a request for $77.7 million for UNESCO.
It explained that if the waiver legislation was passed, the $77.7 million would cover UNESCO funding for FY2014, while separate “contingency requirements” requests would cover the two years of arrears.
Conservative lawmakers viewed the defunding as an appropriate response to a politicized decision by UNESCO to grant membership to non-sovereign entity, and when the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) abruptly suspended plans to apply to join other U.N. bodies, saw this as evidence that the move had worked.
In its FY2014 budget proposal, however, the administration characterized the funding cutoff not as an effective deterrent to the P.A. – or to other U.N. agencies considering following UNESCO’s example – but as a setback to U.S. interests.
“The ability to make such contributions is essential to advancing U.S. interests worldwide and strengthening U.S. global leadership, influence, and credibility,” it asserted.
“While the administration remains committed to heading off any new efforts by the Palestinians to seek such membership in organizations across the U.N. system, these moves may well continue,” the document acknowledged.
The administration argued that the defunding legislation “runs counter to U.S. national security interests by allowing the Palestinians to isolate the United States and prevent the active U.S. engagement necessary to pursue U.S. policy objectives in international organizations.”
“In turn, the United States would lose influence and eventually voting rights in international organizations,” it added.
So 'the most pro-Israel administration evah' (as per Debbie 'I wear my support for Israel on my sleeve every day when I go to work' Wasserman-Schultz) wants to restore funding to a UN agency which admitted 'Palestine' as a member (a move which undercuts Israel's legitimacy), and which is sitting silently as 'Palestine' destroys the very heritage sites within its administered territory that UNESCO is supposed to protect.

It sounds like the inmates are running the asylum, in Turtle Bay, in Paris and on Pennsylvania Avenue.

What could go wrong?

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At 3:06 PM, Blogger michael said...

To Islam, nothing that pre-dates the Prophet has any value. None. Re the Taliban destruction of another WHS, the Buddas. We have even seen a radical Imam in Egypt call for the destruction of the Pyramids.


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