Palestinians hail UNESCO Hebron vote protested by Israel

Beth Cruz
July 10, 2017

The old market of the divided West Bank city of Hebron, seen on July 7.

UNESCO has designated the West Bank city of Hebron as an endangered Palestinian heritage site, drawing the ire of Israel, which branded the move "shameful" and renewed calls for President Donald Trump to withdraw USA membership of the United Nations body.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon immediately denounced the decision as "a moral blot", saying it denied Jewish history in the city. This irrelevant organization promotes fake history.

The resolution passed with a 12-3 vote, and came on as a secret ballot at an annual UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Poland.

The Palestinian Authority foreign minister Riad Malki, called the vote a diplomatic victory.

The small Jewish community living in Hebron believes UNESCO is playing a political game that seeks to sever any connection Jews have to the land of Israel. This would, in effect, force UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to meet to discuss their case.

Jews and Christians also were present in the city at that time, but their activities were limited.

All this points to the fact that the United Nations recognises the diplomatic battle that Palestinians are faced with day after day, while also understanding the significance of the city of Hebron.

Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is home to at least 200,000 Palestinians and hundreds Israeli settlers.

In heated scenes, Israel's Unesco ambassador, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, reportedly stormed to the desk of the session's chairman after the vote, and accused the committee of not conducting a truly secret ballot.

Jewish tradition claims that Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, are buried at the site. "There is a huge problem in my toilet and it is much more important than the decision you just adopted".

According to the screenshot, after the vote, at 8:11 p.m., the Arab envoy sent Shama-Hacohen a message via the Whatsapp messaging app: "sorry for today, it was too heated, it is hard to say it was a secret vote..."

The property includes a holy site, known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi mosque.

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

"The UNESCO vote on Hebron is tragic on several levels".

Mr Netanyahu expressed outrage that Unesco determined the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron "is a Palestinian site, meaning not Jewish, and that the site is in danger".

Hebron has a long history of violence.

"Hebron's Old City and holy site is under threat due to the irresponsible, illegal, and highly damaging actions of Israel, the occupying power, which maintains a regime of separation and discrimination in the city based on ethnic background and religion", the statement said.

Hashlamoun, who also presides over the UNESCO Club in Hebron, said, "Putting Hebron on the world heritage endangered list supports peace and opposes violence and terror".

"We'll have a legal body at an worldwide level that will help our efforts to stop any attempts to destroy it", he said. The resolution describing the site as being "in danger" means the area will discussed annually. Israel says its guardianship of the site is sensitive to the sensibilities of all three faiths.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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