ROME – World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder met Friday with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and thanked him for his country’s public support for Israel at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), including its rejection of a Palestinian backed resolution disavowing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.
Gentiloni told Lauder that he would continue to support the State of Israel and Jewish communities.
The president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Noemi Di Segni, accompanied WJC President Lauder in his meeting with Prime Minister Gentiloni.
Italy was first European state to publicly state in May that it planned to reject a Palestinian backed resolution disavowing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, before the 58-member UNESCO Executive Board gathered in Paris on Israel’s birthday to approve the resolution referred to as “occupied Palestine.”
Twenty-two states voted in favor of the decision, which refers to Israel as an occupying power and declares all its legislative and administrative measures in Jerusalem “null and void.” In a marked change from the near unanimous approval seen in similar UNESCO votes on Jerusalem, 23 member states abstained and 10 - the US, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Greece, Paraguay, Ukraine, Togo and Germany – opposed.
WJC President Lauder decried that resolution as a "cynical move [that] must be recognized for what it is: a distorted, dangerous and illegitimate revision of history, which serves only as bait for adversaries of Israel seeking to strip the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and deny its historic and religious link to Jerusalem. I urge the international community to condemn this decision in the harshest manner possible, and do everything in its power to rectify this error.”
“On behalf of the more than 100 Jewish communities worldwide represented by the World Jewish Congress, I thank the 10 states that opposed this decision for speaking up for truth and justice. Their refusal to agree to the outrageous charges leveled by the UNESCO Executive Board is a small but significant moral achievement for Israel and all purveyors of democracy within the international community,” Lauder said in May.
Italy also abstained from last years anti-Israel resolution at UNESCO, and promised Israel that in the future it would change its stance, including during a March visit of Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano.