UNESCO puts Hebron on endangered heritage list, outraging Israel

UNESCO puts Hebron on endangered heritage list, outraging Israel

UNESCO puts Hebron on endangered heritage list, outraging Israel

The Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron was declared a world heritage site in danger by the UN's cultural body on Friday.

Israel reacted with fury, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling the resolution "delusional".

Issa Amro, an advocate of non-violent resistance, co-founded the grassroots group Youth Against Settlements, which has relentlessly campaigned against the Israeli military's shutdown of the once-thriving and historic Palestinian neighbourhood around Shuhada Street.

The resolution was fast-tracked on the basis that the site was under threat, with the Palestinians accusing Israel of an "alarming" number of violations, including vandalism and damage to property.

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.

"This is a historical development because it stressed that Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque historically belong to the Palestinian people", said Palestinian Minister of Tourism Rula Maayah. It has taken a tougher line under the Trump administration against what it says is anti-Israel bias among certain United Nations organizations. Mr. Bennett, leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, also heads Israel's UNESCO Committee.

Following a massacre carried out against Muslim worshippers in Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994, Israel divided it into two parts; one for Muslims and one for Jews. Although the text was much softer than similar resolutions passed in previous years, Israel condemned it strongly.

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"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.

Israel rejected the idea, with foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon saying the Palestinians were "trying to rewrite Jewish history and the history of the region".

Israel says the curtain was agreed to by the Polish committee chair, Jacek Purchla, but was not present when voting commenced on Friday.

Omar Abedrabo, a professor of Islamic history and archeology at Bethlehem University, told Mondoweiss that several historically important sites in Hebron have been destroyed by settlers renovating homes and business without any input or regulation from the Israeli or Palestinian Departments of Antiquities.

The ambassador wasn't the only Israeli official angered by the United Nations agency's wording. The compound is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. "When I mentioned that this site will be protected under the new classification, it also means UNESCO will not allow the Israelis to do whatever they want there".

In 1929, Arabs killed 67 Jews in a rampage still seared into Israeli minds. In an intractable and long-running battle, Unesco's recognition is, at least, a move in the right direction for Palestinians.

In 1994, Israeli-American Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslims praying at the site, killing 29, before being beaten to death by survivors.

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