UNESCO's chief Irina Bokova speaks during a press conference in Paris on February 27, 2015, following the destruction of priceless ancient artefacts in Iraq's city of Mosul. AFP PHOTO/FRANCOIS GUILLOT
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The United Nations Thursday announced nine possible candidates on a shortlist to replace the chief of UNESCO, the world body's Paris-based cultural agency, including four Arab candidates.Commentators have warned that a chief from an Arab nation will inflame divisions in UNESCO, which frequently has found itself used as a theater for political disputes between Israel and Arab nations.The U.N. cultural organization took a huge blow in 2011 when the United States cut funding for it after a vote fueled by Arab-nation lobbying admitted Palestine as a member state, inflaming Israel. Last year, UNESCO's executive board approved a resolution that Israel said denies the deep historic Jewish connection to holy sites in occupied Jerusalem – a move that has angered Israel's government.But Arab nations say it's their turn to head the body.
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