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French Jewish groups call country’s UNESCO vote a betrayal

JTA

November 1, 2011 | 9:10 am

The 36th session of UNESCO's General Conference in Paris on Oct. 31. Photo by REUTERS/Benoit Tessie

The 36th session of UNESCO's General Conference in Paris on Oct. 31. Photo by REUTERS/Benoit Tessie

French Jewish groups said they feel betrayed by their country’s vote in favor of extending UNESCO membership to the Palestinians.

“President Sarkozy broke his word and betrayed the ties of friendship that link France and Israel,” said the UPJF, a Jewish group of business professionals and CEOs, in a statement issued shortly after Monday’s vote.

The UPJF and the Jewish umbrella group, CRIF, both said in statements that France’s position did not correlate with recent declarations by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who argued that the Palestinian bid for membership was premature.

As a result, “France has judicially legitimized an authoritarian, racist regime in an international organism without respecting conditions for admission,”the UPJF said.

The CRIF said it “strongly deplored” France’s vote, which came while “several significant European states voted against” the Palestinian bid.

French officials told reporters that the decision to admit Palestine into UNESCO was a difficult one that was hacked out over the weekend amid stiff tension.

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