Press Releases

Miami, FL – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), David Perdue (R-GA), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) are urging President Obama to suspend ties with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) following its adoption today of another shameful, anti-Israel resolution denying any connection between Jews, Christians and holy sites in Jerusalem, such as the Temple Mount and Western Wall.
 
Today, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee adopted “Old City of Jerusalem and Its Walls,” a resolution authored by the Palestinian and Jordanian delegations and submitted by Kuwait, Lebanon and Tunisia.
 
“At a time when the Middle East is in turmoil and historical heritage sites are being destroyed by groups such as ISIS, it is imperative that the U.S. stands with Israel, our closest ally and the sole democracy in the region,” states the senators’ letter to the president. “Recent UNESCO resolutions that deny Jewish and Christian ties to holy sites in Jerusalem not only reinforce the necessity of withholding American funding from this counterproductive U.N. organization, but also call into question future U.S. membership in UNESCO.”
 
Earlier this month, Rubio and Kirk urged Secretary of State John Kerry to oppose and condemn UNESCO resolution “Occupied Palestine.”
 
In December 2015, Rubio and Kirk urged Senate and House Republican leadership to stop U.S. funding for UNESCO.
 
The full text of the senators’ letter to President Obama is below:
 
October 26, 2016
 
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
We write to express grave concern about continuing efforts by member states of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to delegitimize Israel. Today, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee adopted “Old City of Jerusalem and Its Walls,” another resolution that denies any historical connections of Jews and Christians to Jerusalem’s holiest sites, including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. Authored by Palestinian and Jordanian delegations and submitted by Kuwait, Lebanon and Tunisia, this inflammatory resolution also repeatedly describes Israel as “the Occupying Power.” Given that U.S. law already forbids American taxpayer money from going to UNESCO, we urge your administration to join Israel in suspending ties to UNESCO.
                                                          
In October 2011, after UNESCO admitted the non-state actor of “Palestine” as a member, the United States withheld funding from UNESCO pursuant to U.S. law. Under U.S. laws passed in 1990 and 1994, your administration is required to withhold funding to any United Nations organization that grants membership to the Palestine Liberation Organization or “any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.” UNESCO’s acceptance of “Palestine” as a member state undermines the core tenant of U.S. policy in the region, which mandates direct negotiations as the only solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
 
As you know, UNESCO’s Executive Board voted on October 13, 2016, to adopt “Item 25:  Occupied Palestine,” an inflammatory, anti-Israel resolution authored by the Palestinian delegation and submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan. Both this resolution and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s resolution are deeply divisive and further damage UNESCO’s credibility. They also set back the prospects of a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. We are further disturbed that several U.S. allies in UNESCO voted in favor of these and other recent resolutions rooted in ignorance and bigotry. 
 
At a time when the Middle East is in turmoil and historical heritage sites are being destroyed by groups such as ISIS, it is imperative that the U.S. stands with Israel, our closest ally and the sole democracy in the region. Recent UNESCO resolutions that deny Jewish and Christian ties to holy sites in Jerusalem not only reinforce the necessity of withholding American funding from this counterproductive U.N. organization, but also call into question future U.S. membership in UNESCO.
 
In 1984, the U.S. severed ties with UNESCO due to disparities between American foreign policy goals and UNESCO’s agenda. Because UNESCO continues to deviate from its founding mission and adopt one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions, it is time for the U.S. to stand with Israel and suspend our ties with UNESCO.
 
Sincerely,
 
Marco Rubio                                                            
U.S. Senator
 
Mark Kirk
U.S. Senator                                                            
                                                           
David Perdue                                                                      
U.S. Senator
 
Johnny Isakson
U.S. Senator