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UN Declares Hebron Shrine 'Palestinian' Heritage Site

10 July 2017

The United Nations is calling on Israel to drop charges against a Palestinian human rights defender who has worked extensively in Hebron - the Old City in the occupied West Bank which has just been listed as a Palestinian heritage site by the U.N's cultural body, angering the Israeli government.

Although UNESCO's final resolution emphasized the importance of the site to Jews, Christians and Muslims, it was totally rejected by Israel.

PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the UNESCO resolution, telling Arab News she was happy with the "important decision that is part of the incremental effort aimed at curbing Israeli attempts of theft and destruction of our sites, and the collective character of Palestine". "Not a "Jewish" site?!" he added, listing the biblical figures said to be buried there.

"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.

"Despite a frantic Israeli campaign spreading lies and distorting the facts about Palestinian rights, the world has recognized our right to register Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque [the Muslim term for the Tomb of the Patriarchs] under Palestinian sovereignty", the PA's foreign ministry said. Each cut has come after various United Nations bodies voted to adopt decisions which Israel said discriminated against it. Mr. Bennett, leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, also heads Israel's UNESCO Committee.

"This time they decided that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is a Palestinian site, meaning that it is not Jewish, and that the site is in danger".

It was not incidental that Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama HaCohen mentioned the Holocaust at the Krakow meeting, which took place in a country where so many Jews were killed in concentration camps in World War II.

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"We intend on making sure that Hebron remains Jewish". "Only in places where Israel exists, like in Hebron, is freedom of worship guaranteed for all", he said.

Another clear benefit is that Hebron, one of the world's oldest cities, would be entitled to the allocation of immediate assistance from the World Heritage Fund and gain the attention of the global powers.

"They are trying to rewrite Jewish history and the history of the region", he said.

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

In addition, the soldiers also confiscated 53 permits, carried by Palestinian workers who already obtained authorization from the Israeli side.

Emad Hamdan of the Palestinian Hebron Rehabilitation Committee told the assembly after Friday's vote, "We think we are shouldering the responsibility and you proved you are there to shoulder the responsibility".

Hebron has a long history of violence. "We decided not to go for violence, we made a decision to go only for political and diplomatic means", Majdi Khaldi, adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tells Newsweek by phone. As Palestinians gathered to pray, Goldstein opened fire inside the compound, killing 29 people including children.

UN Declares Hebron Shrine 'Palestinian' Heritage Site