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Israel Outraged by UNESCO Decision on Holy Site
Israel Outraged by UNESCO Decision on Holy Site

Israel Outraged by UNESCO Decision on Holy Site

Israel Outraged by UNESCO Decision on Holy Site

The UN cultural agency on Friday declared the old city in the West Bank town of Al-Khalil as a Palestinian world heritage site, a decision that outraged Israeli officials who say the move negated the deep Jewish ties to the biblical town and its ancient shrine.
The move was the latest chapter in Israel’s contentious relationship with UNESCO, an agency it accuses of being an anti-Israeli tool that makes decisions out of political considerations, AP reported.
While the Palestinians welcomed the action, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “another delusional decision by UNESCO.”
Both Jews and Muslims revere the same site in Al-Khalil as the traditional burial place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs — Jews call it the Tomb of the Patriarchs, while for Muslims it is the Ibrahimi Mosque.
The 12-3 vote, with six abstentions, came on a secret ballot at an annual UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland. The proposal came from the Palestinian side. Israel contended that its historic links to Al-Khalil were ignored and its ambassador to UNESCO left the session.
UNESCO spokeswoman Lucia Iglesias confirmed that Al-Khalil’s old city was put on the agency’s World Heritage list and on the list of sites in danger. She would not elaborate, saying the exact wording would be decided later.
The decision obliges the World Heritage committee to review its status annually.
“This is a historical development because it stressed that Al-Khalil and the Ibrahimi Mosque historically belong to the Palestinian people,” said Palestinian Minister of Tourism Rula Maayah.
But Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said UNESCO’s “automatic Arab majority succeeded in passing the proposed resolution that attempts to appropriate the national symbols of the Jewish people.”

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