United Nations to Israel: Drop Charges against Palestinian Hebron Activist

UNESCO declares West Bank shrine as Palestinian angering Israel
Israel Has No Sovereignty over Jerusalem: UNESCO
Author

10 July, 2017

The decision, made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), recognizes Hebron's Old City, including the site known as the Al-Ibrhimi Mosque by the Palestinians and the Tomb of Patriarchs by the Jews, as a Palestinian site and in need of protection.

Hebron is the only city in the West Bank to have Israeli settlements at its heart, where a few hundred settlers live surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

The vote drew a sharp denunciation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who described it as "another delusional decision by UNESCO", while the United States announced it would review its ties with the agency.

Israeli soldiers and police officers abducted, Sunday, 37 Palestinian workers, reportedly for trying to enter Jerusalem without permits.

"Not a Jewish site?" he asked.

Photo A market in the old city of Hebron, which was designated as a World Heritage site in danger by Unesco on Friday.

The 12-3 vote, with six abstentions, came on a secret ballot at an annual UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland, following a proposal from Palestinian representatives.

"The worldwide community should be aware that efforts such as the Palestinian campaign to claim holy sites through UNESCO, not only undermines efforts to build Israeli-Palestinian trust, but reinforces the perception among Israelis and Jews around the world that the Palestinians do not recognize the Jewish connection to Israel and are not serious partners to peace".

Rula Ma'ayah, Palestinian minister of tourism, told Arab News in a phone interview that the UNESCO resolution was passed despite extreme pressure on member states.

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Netanyahu also in a statement said he would cut $1 million from Israel's contribution to the overall United Nations budget and dedicate it to "Jewish Heritage Projects in Hebron and Kiryat Arba", a nearby Jewish settlement.

Jewish groups condemned the UNESCO resolution.

Jews regard the Tomb of the Patriarch as the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs. As Israel works to ensure that future Jerusalem resolutions reflect Jewish history, it must now prepare for a similar campaign with regard to Hebron.

"Israel won't renew cooperation with UNESCO as long as it continues to serve as a tool for political attacks instead of a being a professional organization".

It notes the ancient origins of Hebron's Jewish community and that Jews left the city "after the eruption of violence in 1929", an allusion to the massacre of 69 Jews that year by Palestinian nationalists. Netanyahu said in a statement.

Site is also a stark symbol of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"As an afterthought, I probably brought dishonor to my toilet by comparing it to this decision", Shama-Hacohen said.

The Ibrahimi Mosque has always been a flashpoint of Zionist colonial violence. In 1994, an Israeli settler shot and killed 29 Palestinian worshippers at the holy site before he was beaten to death.

For most of the year, the holy site's prayer area is divided into separate halls for Jewish and Muslim worshipers, with separate entrances and each side administered by its own religious authority.


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