Even with a box of chocolates, the Jerusalem envoy failed to persuade the guards to accept official documents while the office is closed during the holidays
The Jerusalem envoy to UNESCO said on Thursday that he was not worried about Israel being forced to stay in the organization for another 12 months despite his failed attempts to submit the necessary documents in time.
Carmel Shama-Hacohen explained in a statement that he made one last attempt to submit an official letter announcing Israel's intention to leave the organization by going to the offices of the Paris cultural agency with a box of chocolates in addition to his letter. But he did not find anyone who agreed to sign the receipt, the offices being closed for the holiday season.
UNESCO Headquarters is closed until 2 January.
A week ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained that Israel would leave the organization, two months after the US official announcement of its withdrawal - partly because of the anti-Israeli bias displayed at the polls. UNESCO.
In order to leave at the same time as the United States - by the end of 2018 - Israel must formally submit a letter of intent to the Director General, Audrey Azoulay, at least a year ago.
"We have today made an attempt to hand over our official withdrawal letter that will put an end to UNESCO's membership of the State of Israel," Shama-Hacohen said. "I went there today with my assistant and we first gave the security guards a box of chocolates for the new year, to soften the fact that we were bothering them."
The envoy stated that he explained the situation to the guards, but the guards indicated that they were not authorized to sign a remittance receipt or authorized to accept an official document.
Shama-Hacohen said he was finally able to enter the offices of the organization and that "we found an agreement with them that allows us to write on the mail that we tried to hand them over to them but they refused.
He then e-mailed the letter to the Director General and she indicated that she would consider it an official notification of the Jewish state's intention to leave, he said.
"Israel has made every effort to complete this process of departure as soon as possible alongside the United States and to prevent another undesirable year spent in this miserable organization that has been hijacked by the Arab and Islamic nations," said Shama-Hacohen.
The envoy also highlighted the positive relationship maintained between Israel and Azoulay, which was appointed head of the organization in October and he explained that she would be able to rid the organization of its political agenda and "re-transform it into a professional organization."
UNESCO is best known for its World Heritage program of protection of cultural sites and traditions, but also works to combat violent extremism, improve education for girls, promote Holocaust education, to defend the freedoms of journalists and to encourage science on climate change.
In recent years, however, Israel has been furious over adopted resolutions that ignored or diminished its historical connection to the Holy Land and designated ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage.
Shama-Hacohen, a former Netanyahu Likud Party MP, explained last week that UNESCO "has surpassed records of hypocrisy, inducement and lies against Israel and the Jewish people while polluting its noble fundamental principles. by politicization and diplomatic terrorism that at times confine to anti-Semitism ".
The envoy explained that Israel and the Jews "should have been the first to contribute to the organization and the last to leave, but in the theater of the absurd UNESCO, the nations that have nothing to to see with science, education and culture led this organization into a dead end. "
Professional diplomats, on the other hand, are less enthusiastic about leaving UNESCO, saying that while the United States can easily obtain observer status in the organization, is not the case for Israel. To become an observer member, a state must gain the support of a majority of member countries, a very unlikely element in the case of Israel because of an automatic Arab majority.
Raphaël Ahren contributed to this article.