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Saturday, 24 October 2020

Israel apologises for deputy minister's quake comments

AFP , Saturday 29 Oct 2016
Kara
Israel's deputy minister of regional cooperation Ayub Kara (Photo: Reuters)
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Israel apologised on Saturday after a deputy minister said an earthquake in Italy was punishment for a UNESCO resolution on the occupied east Jerusalem that has angered Israel.

Ayub Kara, deputy minister of regional cooperation, said during a visit to the Vatican on Wednesday he was sure the quake that hit central Italy the same day happened because of the resolution, which Israel has said denies the Jewish connection to the city.

"We repudiate the remarks of Deputy Minister Kara," a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.

"Since making the statement, Deputy Minister Kara has issued an apology, which is also endorsed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," it said.

Kara is a Druze lawmaker from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right Likud party.

The condemnation of his remarks came just hours before the start of an official visit to Israel by Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

The Arab-sponsored resolution passed by the UN cultural agency on October 18 criticised Israel for restricting access to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the occupied east Jerusalem.

Israel is furious that the UNESCO resolution refers to the holy site in Jerusalem's Old City only by its Muslim name, Al-Aqsa or Al-Haram al-Sharif.

Israel recalled its ambassador to UNESCO for consultations on Wednesday over the issue.

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi last week described the resolution as "incomprehensible and unacceptable", and said his officials should have voted against it instead of abstaining.

Israel occupied and later annexed east Jerusalem in 1967 in a move never recognised by the international community.

UNESCO is responsible for protecting important heritage sites and is one of the few international organisations that recognise Palestine as a member state.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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