Published: Sat, July 08, 2017
Research | By Jennifer Evans

UNESCO makes Hebron old city Palestinian site

UNESCO makes Hebron old city Palestinian site

The proposal called Hebron a "Islamic" city, leading Israeli ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen to storm out of the session, denouncing the choice of language for downplaying the importance of Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs to the Jewish faith. He said the site needed protecting from "violations" of the "occupation".

By listing sites on its World Heritage in Danger list, UNESCO seeks to mobilise the global community to protect them.

It comes despite attempts by Israel to have the motion blocked, including a personal intervention by the USA ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.

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.

Israel's United Nations ambassador Danny Danon also weighed in on the vote, describing it as "shameful & offensive". And in 2012, the United Nations General Assembly chose to upgrade the status of Palestine to a nonmember observer state of the United Nations.

On Friday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed its second anti-Israel resolution in less than a week.

UNESCO makes Hebron old city Palestinian site
UNESCO makes Hebron old city Palestinian site

Palestinian foreign minister Reyad Al-Maliki said the Unesco vote, at a meeting in Krakow, Poland, was proof of the "successful diplomatic battle Palestine has launched on all fronts in the face of Israeli and American pressure on [Unesco] member countries".

Funnily enough, UNESCO's website acknowledges the Jewish connection to Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, preceding what they describe as the Arab-Muslim conquest!

In 1929, as a result of an Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered, the entire Jewish community fled the city, with Hebron becoming temporarily devoid of Jews. The unusual step was requested by three member states. She added: "This is a badge of shame for UNESCO, who time after time chooses to stand on the side of lies".

The site is already on Israel's list of national heritage sites, but the Jewish communities in Hebron have long struggled with the Israeli government for more resources, including to for funds to build a roof to cover the man Jewish sanctuary.

The site "came to be revered as a pilgrim site for the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, part of a triangle of holy sites with Jerusalem and Bethlehem", the motion states. In 1994, an Israeli settler shot and killed 29 Palestinian worshippers at the holy site before he was beaten to death. The International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group critical of China, challenged the move, arguing that it would bolster China's efforts to resettle tens of thousands of Tibetan nomads into villages.

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