Washington - In a secret ballot, 12 countries voted in favour of declaring Hebron’s Old City and the Ibrahimi Mosque World Heritage sites.
Washington – In a secret ballot, 12 countries voted in favour of declaring Hebron’s Old City and the Ibrahimi Mosque World Heritage sites.
Three countries voted against the motion and six others abstained from voting on the resolution which was put forward by Jordan and contained two main clauses.
Firstly, the resolution stipulated that the two sites had to be classified as Palestinian heritage sites and should be officially added to UNESCO’s list.
Secondly, the resolution specified that the sites should also be recognized as endangered. This would, in effect, force UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to meet to discuss their case.
The decision was met with some fierce opposition from the United States and Israel. US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, sent a letter to two senior UN officials, urging them to oppose the resolution in the strongest terms.
Last week, Israel’s former foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, declared that “These decisions will not harm my people’s connection to [Jerusalem and Hebron], but they will hurt UNESCO and the ability to promote common interests.”
Israel’s reaction to the vote was instantaneous and sharp. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter to respond, saying “Yet another delusional decision by UNESCO. This time they’ve decided that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is a Palestinian site, meaning not a Jewish one and listed it as an endangered site. Not a Jewish site?”
Netanyahu continued, asking “Who is buried there? Avraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rivka, Leah, our patriarchs and matriarchs.”
Challenging the idea that the sites are in danger, the Israeli PM vented his anger: “The site is in danger? In fact, only the places in which Israel has a presence, like Hebron, there is freedom of religion for everyone. In the Middle East. They bomb mosques, churches and synagogues, in places Israel is not present.”
Netanyahu concluded his remarks promising that Israel will “continue to protect the Tomb of the Patriarchs, freedom of religion for everyone, and we will also continue to protect the truth.”
Israel’s UN envoy called the adoption of the resolution “an act of aggression against the Jewish people” and accused the UN body of “spreading anti-Jewish lies.”