Israel petitions UNESCO for secret ballot on Cave of the Patriarchs vote


( The Israeli government is petitioning the United Nations cultural body UNESCO to conduct a secret ballot vote on a new motion that would deny Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and label Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs, a Jewish holy site, as an endangered world heritage site in the “State of Palestine.”

Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Twenty-one countries will vote on the resolution during UNESCO’s annual assembly, which meets July 2-12 in Krakow, Poland. Israel’s request for a secret ballot vote runs counter to UNESCO’s normal practice of conducting an open ballot that can be viewed by all members. 

At least one country that has no diplomatic relations with Israel has indicated its willingness to vote against the resolution, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

The motion claims that the Cave of the Patriarchs—where the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs are believed to be buried—is a Palestinian-Muslim site. A clause regarding the status of Jerusalem was added to the motion at the last minute.

Should the motion be adopted, limits would be imposed on Israeli construction in the area of the Jewish holy site, and Israel would risk being censured each time it erected a security checkpoint or conducted work near those areas. 

In May, UNESCO voted to deny Israel’s sovereignty over its capital city of Jerusalem. Last October, UNESCO passed two separate resolutions ignoring Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem’s holy sites.

Posted on June 28, 2017 .