Arab League lauds UNESCO recognization of Hebron as Palestinian heritage site

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Arab League lauds UNESCO recognization of Hebron as Palestinian heritage site

Israeli officials slammed UNESCO on Friday after it passed a Palestinian-backed resolution calling Hebron "Islamic" and designating its Old City, home of the biblical Tomb of the Patriarchs, as a Palestinian world heritage site in danger.

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement it would be reducing Israel's funding to the United Nations by one million dollars so that it could build a museum in the town.

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

UN Watch is alarmed that the world body to protect cultural heritage was hijacked for the second time this week by a cynical, divisive and politicized campaign waged by the Palestinians, backed by the Arab bloc, Cuba and other dictatorships.

At least one Arab diplomat expressed regret for his part in Friday's UNESCO decision recognizing Chevron's old city as an endangered Palestinian heritage site. She would not elaborate, saying the exact wording would be decided later.

The vote occurred during the annual World Heritage Committee meeting that is now taking place in Krakow, Poland.

Two other shrines next to it - the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Muslim Ibrahimi Mosque - have been accorded the same tag. Haaretz reported that Avigdor Liberman, Israel's defense minister, called UNESCO "anti-Semitic".

Rejecting the vote, the spokesperson for Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Emmanuel Nahshon, took to Twitter after the decision to condemn the UNESCO outcome as a promotion of "lies". Explaining the reason for its opposition to classifying Hebron as a "Palestinian world heritage site", ICOMOS said that the Palestinian focus "only on the (Muslim) Mamluk period (of Hebron's heritage) ... means that potentially outstanding aspects of Hebron's urban history and persistence have been overlooked". Although the text was much softer than similar resolutions passed in previous years, Israel condemned it strongly.

Jews regard the Tomb of the Patriarch as the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs.

"Clearly, this was yet another politicized, anti-Israel maneuver manufactured by the Palestinian Authority", said Yishai Fleisher, the worldwide spokesman for the Hebron Jewish Community.

"It represents an affront to history".

After the vote, Elias Sanbar, the Palestinian Authority's representative at UNESCO, said that the resolution simply acknowledges that the mosque is in Palestinian territory. While the United Nations has questioned the legality of subsequent Israeli policies in the West Bank, the act of coming into possession of those territories was never deemed illegal at the time.

The Ibrahimi Mosque has always been a flashpoint of Zionist colonial violence. Jews were praying at this site half a millennia before Islam was even invented.

Arabs massacred 69 Jews there in 1929.

Israel blames the violence on incitement by Palestinian religious and political leaders, compounded by social media. As Palestinians gathered to pray, Goldstein opened fire inside the compound, killing 29 people including children.

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