(JNS.org) The United Nations cultural body UNESCO Friday designated the Old City of Hebron, including the Cave of the Patriarchs, as an endangered Palestinian heritage site.
UNESCO’s resolution—approved by 12 of 21 member states on the World Heritage Committee in a secret ballot vote held at the U.N. agency’s annual meeting in Krakow, Poland—describes of Judaism’s holiest places as being located in the “State of Palestine.”
The Cave of the Patriarchs, which the Bible records as being purchased by the Jewish forefather Abraham, is said to be the burial place of Abraham along with the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. The resolution was orchestrated by the Palestinians through expedited procedure claiming the area was threatened and Israel was vandalizing the site.
“UNESCO seems intent on spouting anti-Jewish lies, while it remains silent as the region’s heritage is destroyed by brutal extremists,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said.
The U.S. delegation to the World Heritage Committee called the Hebron resolution “divisive, confusing and impossible to justify.”
“The site is not under any real or immediate threat. Indeed, the only urgency here is an urgency to express political anger,” the delegation said.
The Palestinians, meanwhile, said the resolution was a victory against Israeli and American efforts.
“This vote is a success for a diplomatic battle fought by Palestine on all fronts, in the face of the Israeli and American pressure on the member states…and a failure and a tremendous defeat Israel,” Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said.
Friday’s UNESCO resolution came after a World Heritage Committee vote earlier this week that denied Israeli claims to the Old City of Jerusalem, which includes Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount. In May, UNESCO’s Executive Board passed a resolution denying Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. Last October, UNESCO passed two separate resolutions ignoring Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s holy sites.