Israel scored a symbolic victory at UNESCO when a report by the organization dismissed a PA request to register Hebron’s Old City as a World Heritage Site. But the battle isn’t over.
A United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report said a request by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to have the Old City of Hebron, including the Jewish holy site of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, registered as a Palestinian heritage site had given “little recognition” to the town’s Jewish history. Despite the symbolic win, the battle isn’t over.
The Palestinian request will be up for vote this week at UNESCO’s annual World Heritage Committee assembly in Krakow, Poland. Israel will find itself fighting on two fronts as it also seeks to fight a resolution condemning the Jewish state for what a Jordanian-sponsored resolution claims are illegal works in and around the Old City.
Ahead of the vote, a report issued Friday by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMAS), an advisory body to the World Heritage Committee, said, “Although it is stated that the nominated property is thought to be one of the oldest cities continuously inhabited in the world, the emphasis of the nomination is on a small period of that history in the form of the Mamluk town, apart from the earlier structures of the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque/The Tomb of Patriarchs. This means that the association of Hebron with Jewish and early Christian societies is given little recognition.”
Israel blocked an ICOMOS fact-finding mission to Hebron last month, saying it would “not provide legitimization to any Palestinian political move under the guise of culture and heritage.”
While the ICOMOS report said it “considers that the comparative analysis has not so far justified consideration of this property for the World Heritage List,” Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, acknowledged that despite the fact that the report was so conclusive, Israel still faces an uphill struggle to get the motion blocked.
“Were it not for the fact that we are talking about the State of Israel and the Jewish people, both of which are obsessively hounded in international fora and particularly at the UnIted Nations, a report like this could have let us go home early for the summer vacation instead of heading off to Krakow to fight for the truth and to prevent registration of the site under the name of Palestine,” Shama-Hacohen stated.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to Israel and anti-Israel resolutions that verge on anti-Semitism, the Islamic bloc votes automatically, while other nations, including ‘enlightened’ European countries, have no shame in … abstaining, even though they understand that by abstaining they provide de facto support for an outrageous resolution,” he added.
As AICE-Jewish Virtual Library explains, “the Cave of Machpelah, located in the Old City of Hebron, “is the world’s most ancient Jewish site and the second holiest place for the Jewish people, after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Cave and the adjoining field were purchased—at full market price—by Abraham some 3700 years ago. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah were all later buried in the same Cave of Machpelah. These are considered the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. The only one who is missing is Rachel, who was buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth.”
By: TPS and United with Israel Staff