Israel agrees to UNESCO visit on conservation

April 24, 2013 at 7:16 AM
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PARIS, April 24 (UPI) -- Israel will permit UNESCO inspectors to tour Jerusalem's Old City to assess conservation work, officials said.

"The experts' mission mandate will also include a follow-up on the progress of UNESCO action plan for safeguarding and conserving the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls," portions of a letter submitted Tuesday by Israel to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, The Jordan Times reported Wednesday.

Senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials told Haaretz the deal is the result of an Israeli diplomatic initiative and months of quiet diplomacy.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization accepted the Palestinians as full members in 2011.

In exchange for Israel's permission, UNESCO agreed to remove five anti-Israeli resolutions from the agenda of its executive body, Haaretz said.

The agreement to table the resolutions was a direct result of visits by U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East, who secured the agreement to refrain from initiating negative moves in international organizations, The New York Times said.

A U.N. delegation will start its work May 15 in Jerusalem and submit a report with recommendations before June 1, the beginning of the World Heritage Committee's 37th session, the Jordanian newspaper said.

Jerusalem was registered as a World Heritage site with UNESCO in 1981 and as a World Heritage site in Danger in 1982, the newspaper said.

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