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Middle East

Israel calls for UN recognition of Yom Kippur

Israeli UN ambassador accuses body of discrimination, saying Yom Kippur ought to be officially marked in UN calendar.

Last updated: 17 May 2014 00:22
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A vote by the UN General Assembly is likely to be needed to approve the holiday [EPA]

Israel has called for the United Nations to officially mark the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, urging the world body to "correct this inequity and recognise the holiest day of the Jewish faith".

Of the 10 holidays already recognised by the UN, four are religious: the Christian holidays of Christmas and Good Friday, and the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. 

"There are three monotheistic religions, yet only two are recognised by the UN calendar. Such discrimination at the UN must end," Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor wrote in a letter to all envoys at the 193-member world body, according to Reuters news agency.

"On the one hand, the UN advances values of cooperation and engagement among nations, on the other hand, it is prioritising one religion over the other," Prosor said. "It is about time Jewish employees at the UN won't be obligated to work on Yom Kippur."

On the dates of the four recognised religious holidays, buildings are closed and no meetings are held. 

These holidays were recognised after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 1998, a vote likely to be needed to approve the Yom Kippur holiday as well. 

"We believe that the UN Calendar should reflect the organization’s founding principles of coexistence, justice and mutual respect," Prosor wrote in remarks posted to his official Facebook page on Thursday. 

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