Friday, 19 January, 2018

UNESCO puts Hebron in danger list

Israeli border police stand guard on the site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron UNESCO puts Hebron in danger list
Connie Andrews | 10 July, 2017, 02:13

Hebron's Old City is home to about 800 Israeli settlers, who move about freely under army protection, while thousands of Palestinians are subjected to harsh military rule, roadblocks and checkpoints.

Palestinians attend the Friday prayer outside al-Ibrahimi mosque, which Jews call the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the West Bank city of Hebron June 16, 2017. She would not comment on whether Hebron had been recognised as Palestinian, saying the exact wording would be decided later.

Israel has reduced its funding to UNESCO by $1 million after the global organisation declared the occupied West Bank city of Hebron a Palestinian heritage site yesterday, Safa news agency reported. It has taken a tougher line under the Trump administration against what it says is anti-Israel bias among certain United Nations organizations.

Israel's president Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin also harshly criticized the decision, stating: "The decision by UNESCO proves once again that this is a body determined to continue spreading anti-Jewish lies while remaining silent as the region's heritage is being erased by brutal extremists".

These are just the latest in a series of resolutions UNESCO has passed against Israel.

"No decision by this irrelevant organization will undermine our historic right over the Tomb of the Patriarchs, or our right over the country", Lieberman added, giving as clear an indication as possible that Israel does not recognize Palestinian existence, let alone self-determination in the West Bank or anywhere else in historic Palestine. In fact, only the places in which Israel has a presence, like Hebron, there is freedom of religion for everyone.

The soldiers also abducted three Palestinians for "helping the workers in entering Israel without permits".

"On the information available to us, numerous charges against [Issa] Amro appear to be directed squarely at his lawful right to peacefully protest against the 50-year-old Israeli occupation", said Michel Forst, the UN's Special Rapporteur on human rights defender and Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, in a statement on Friday.

"It represents an affront to history".

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.

The tomb is considered the second holiest place in Judaism and was constructed by Jews in Hebron 2,000 years ago.

Defense minister Avigdor Lieberman called the UNESCO vote "anti-Semitic".

It also could bolster their efforts to fight what they believe are Israeli attempts to take over disputed religious sites in the Holy Land.

The Ibrahimi Mosque has always been a flashpoint of Zionist colonial violence.

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

Arabs massacred 69 Jews there in 1929. In an intractable and long-running battle, Unesco's recognition is, at least, a move in the right direction for Palestinians. As Palestinians gathered to pray, Goldstein opened fire inside the compound, killing 29 people including children.

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