UNESCO Recognizes Hebron, Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian Heritage Sites

by Dominic Parks July 8, 2017, 0:27
UNESCO Recognizes Hebron, Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian Heritage Sites

Israel is working to thwart attempts to ascribe Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs to "Palestine" on Friday, a move the city's Deputy Mayor Yousef al Jabari said would clarify that the site was "a pure Muslim mosque".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the motion earlier Friday by calling the measure "another delusional UNESCO decision" and ordered that another $1 million be pulled from Israel's United Nations funding to establish a museum showcasing Jewish heritage in Hebron.

Twelve countries voted in favor of the resolution, three opposed, and six countries abstained.

The Palestinians hailed a UNESCO decision Friday to label the heart of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron a protected heritage site, but Israel called it a "moral blot".

"They are trying to rewrite Jewish history and the history of the region", he said.

The resolution was fast-tracked on the basis that the site was under threat, with the Palestinians accusing Israel of an "alarming" number of violations, including vandalism and damage to property.

Israel's ambassador to UNESCO walked out of a session by the United Nations agency after learning that the Old City of Hebron had been referred to as Palestinian, not Israeli.

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Upon the liberation of Hebron in 1967, the Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, the late Major-General Rabbi Shlomo Goren, was the first Jew to enter the Cave of Machpelah. Palestinians claim the West Bank is an integral part of a future independent state, a position that is widely backed internationally. "It is only in those places where Israel is, such as Hebron, that freedom of religion for all is ensured", Netanyahu said in his Facebook posting.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is an observer group at the vote in Krakow, in a statement Thursday called resolutions ignoring Jewish ties to heritage sites "greatest assault on Judaism since the Middle Ages".

Bennett, who also heads Israel's national UNESCO Committee, added, "Israel will not resume its cooperation with UNESCO so long as it remains a political tool, rather than professional organization". It also could bolster their efforts to fight what they believe are Israeli attempts to take over disputed religious sites in the Holy Land.

The Jewish people's glorious history in Israel started in Hebron.

Unsurprisingly, the decision was welcomed by Palestinians. More generally, it marked a week's worth of disturbances in British-controlled Palestine, in which Arabs attacked and killed their Jewish neighbors, with there being some attacks by Jews on Arabs.

The double cave, a mystery of thousands of years, was uncovered several years ago beneath the massive building, revealing artifacts from the Early Israelite Period (some 30 centuries ago).

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