Hebron now endangered heritage site

Rachel Hardy
July 10, 2017

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

UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, infuriated Israel on Friday as it voted to list the biblical West Bank city of Hebron, with its holy shrine sacred to both Jews and Muslims, as a world heritage site in danger.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP the Hebron motion was "fake news".

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

After a UNESCO resolution in early May that denied Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, Netanyahu also ordered a $1 million cut in Israel's annual United Nations dues.

UNESCO evaluates its World Heritage in Danger list three times a year; at its annual World Heritage Committee meeting and at its biannual Executive Board meetings.

The Israelis living in Hebron are protected by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, with Palestinians saying the settlements makes their lives impossible.

By conducting the vote today in a secret ballot, the current Chair of the Committee and those member states who voted for the resolution clearly demonstrated they understood the shameful nature of their action.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs is the believed resting place of biblical patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah.

Another moment of intrigue saw Hacohen take the floor after the vote, only to keep being interrupted by his cell phone.

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"And it's much (more) important than the decision that you just adopted", he said.

The vote means that Hebron's Old City and the Ibrahimi mosque, the place where an American Jewish settler massacred 29 Palestinians in 1994, will be added as Palestinian World Heritage sites on UNESCO's register.

Israel's education minister Naftali Bennett accused the body of acting as "a political tool, rather than professional organisation".

The resolution that was approved made no mention of the problems with the Palestinian Authority's application that the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) detailed in its report.

"Sorry for today, it was too heated, it is hard to say it was a secret vote..." the ambassador told Shama-Hacohen in a message, later adding: "No choice..."

The vote came only two months after UNESCO passed a separate resolution on Jerusalem, which Israel said denied Jewish connection to the Western Wall - the holiest site Jews are allowed to pray at.

The Ibrahimi Mosque has always been a flashpoint of Zionist colonial violence. "We also call on the global community to recognize the manipulation to which bodies like UNESCO are being subjected".

Earlier this week, the committee added the historic centre of Vienna to its list of endangered sites but chose to keep Australia's Great Barrier Reef off, despite concern over coral bleaching.

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". Israel says the future of the settlements also must be decided through talks.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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