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UNESCO Jewish exhibit delayed 6 months

PARIS -- The U.N.'s cultural agency says it's delaying for six months a disputed exhibit on Jewish connections to the Holy Land after objections from Arab countries.

The exhibition, which is called “People, Book, Land — The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land,” was scheduled to open Monday at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris.

Earlier this month UNESCO abruptly announced it was delaying the exhibit after 22 Arab member states said in a letter that it could disrupt the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The U.N. agency also said it needed extra time to revise “unresolved issues relating to potentially contestable textual and visual historical points” that member states could perceive as “endangering the peace process.”

UNESCO says the exhibit is now scheduled to open in June, pending final discussions with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a U.S. Jewish group that co-organized the exhibit.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he held “a constructive, blunt” 45-minute discussion with UNESCO's director general earlier in the week and confirmed that negotiations were underway to hold the exhibit. As of late Tuesday, he said no deal had been reached. He said the center opposed any changes in the text on the more than two dozen panels in the exhibit, but there were still discussions going on about some of the photos.

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