Irina Bokova, the head of the United Nations cultural agency, today voiced her sorrow at the recent murder of Israeli actor Juliano Mer-Khamis, who she described as an ardent defender of peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.
Mr. Mer-Khamis, 52, was shot in his car on Monday by masked gunmen in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.
He was a prominent figure in the cultural world of the Middle East, Â" said Ms. Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He was also a socially committed artist and an ardent defender of peaceful cohabitation between Israelis and Palestinians. His death leaves an immense vacuum. Â"
The son of an Israeli mother and a Palestinian father, Mr. Mer-Khamis appeared in a number of films. He was also the director of The Freedom Theatre, which was originally founded by his mother, Arna Mer, and is supported by UNESCO.
The theatre is a unique Palestinian cultural institution and an exemplary model for an entire generation of artists, Â" according to agency.
UNESCO, as a partner of the Freedom Theatre that he directed and supporter of his tireless efforts to promote theatre among young Palestinians, deplores the assassination of this man of peace, Â" said Ms. Bokova.
UNESCO, which supports the arts as a means to promote dialogue between cultures, said it is determined to continue its backing for the theatre for its creativity, openness and tolerance, and to honour the memory of Mr. Mer-Khamis.