UNESCO puts Hebron on endangered heritage list, outraging Israel

Israel Has No Sovereignty over Jerusalem: UNESCO

UNESCO declares West Bank city of Hebron as World Heritage Site in Danger

A general view of the West Bank city of Hebron with the Cave of the Patriarchs, on January 18, 2017.

Israel has slammed a vote by UNESCO declaring the Old City of Hebron an endangered Palestinian World Heritage site, pledging to reduce its funding to the UN.

Israel rejected the idea, with foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon saying the Palestinians were "trying to rewrite Jewish history and the history of the region". This irrelevant organization promotes fake history. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote. By contrast, Palestinians massacred and expelled the city's Jewish population in 1929, while Jordan barred Jews from praying in Hebron from 1948 to 1967.

The move has been met with applause by Palestinians, and condemnation from Israel.

The tomb has traded hands many times over the centuries, variously under the control of the Romans, Arab rulers, the Crusaders, the Ottomans, and the British.

The world body should have instead recognized that Israel has preserved the cultural heritage and freedom of religion of all faiths in Hebron by allowing Muslim, Christians and Jews to pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

The resolution notably does not describe Hebron as in Palestine, although it notes that the "permanent delegation of Palestine" submitted the request. For the Palestinians the move is more than just a diplomatic and moral victory as it recognises the outstanding universal value of a city inhabited by more than 200,000 Palestinians and a few hundred odd Israeli settlers.

Israel announced in May that it would withhold $1 million in its United Nations funding following the passage by UNESCO of a resolution that condemned the country's sovereignty in Jerusalem.

Known to Muslims as the Ibrahami Mosque and to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the landmark is venerated in both religions as the gravesite of the biblical patriarch Abraham, his son Isaac and grandson Jacob.

There was another moment of intrigue when Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, took the floor after the vote but kept being interrupted by his cell phone.

It also could bolster their efforts to fight what they believe are Israeli attempts to take over disputed religious sites in the Holy Land.

After UNESCO previously passed Muslim-sponsored resolutions denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Old City, Israel reduced its UN dues.

It is considered the second holiest site in Judaism, and the fourth holiest in Islam. "It represents an affront to history", Haley said in a statement.

Last year, UNESCO adopted a similar resolution, titled Occupied Palestine and sponsored by several Arab countries.

Subsequent to the resolution, Netanyahu called it in a Facebook posting "delusional" and said that "this time they determined that the Cave of the Machpela is Palestinian, meaning it is not Jewish".

ICOMOS, explaining its recommendation to list the site as "in danger", cited reports from the Palestinian Authority that Israel was preventing restoration to some of the Old Cit's ancient structures and that it had unilaterally altered the Cave compound.

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