Hebron Vote: UNESCO Denies Biblical Christian and Jewish Heritage

Posted July 10, 2017

The United Nation's world heritage body has recognised the old city of Hebron in the West Bank as a Palestinian world heritage site, sparking outrage from Israel.

Emmanuel Nahshon, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, called the motion "fake news".

This will intensify the worldwide spotlight on Hebron, a city with over 220,000 Palestinians, which is already one of the most contentious hotspots in the West Bank.

It's a crying shame that Israel made no mention of the alarming number of violations that have taken place in this city where Arab homes have been vandalised and properties damaged by settlers.

The Palestinian foreign ministry called the decision made by UNESCO, despite the USA and Israeli opposition, a "success" for Palestinian diplomacy.

But while Israel this year marks half-a-century of Israeli control over both sites, UNESCO holds that neither of the sacred areas belong to the Jewish State.

The decision draws attention to the situation in Hebron and obliges the World Heritage committee to review its situation every year.

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In the resolution, the United Nations agency mentioned that Hebron (and Bethlehem) was an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

"On the information available to us, numerous charges against [Issa] Amro appear to be directed squarely at his lawful right to peacefully protest against the 50-year-old Israeli occupation", said Michel Forst, the UN's Special Rapporteur on human rights defender and Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, in a statement on Friday.

UNESCO spokeswoman Lucia Iglesias confirmed that Hebron's old city was put on the agency's World Heritage list and on the list of sites in danger.

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

The vote passed by 12 to three with six abstentions.

It enshrines the tombs of Prophet Abraham, his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob and their wives.

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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The Arab envoy to UNESCO - who was not identified in media reports - apologized to his Israeli counterpart Carmel Shama-Hacohen for not being able to vote against the resolution.

UNESCO passed an anti-Israel resolution by voting to have the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the Old City of Hebron in the West Bank, to be inscribed as a Palestinian World Heritage Site in Danger. "It represents an affront to history", Haley said in a statement.

Hebron is a stark example of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hebron has a long history of violence.

Secondly, the resolution specified that the sites should also be recognized as endangered. "We feel that we are not alone now and that there is an worldwide body that is also concerned about the preservation of this historical site".

In fact it has been Israel that has relentlessly tried to use Jewish reverence for various sites in the occupied West Bank, especially in Jerusalem, as a pretext to try to assert Israeli sovereignty over them. Israel says the future of the settlements also must be decided through talks.

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