MK Tzipi Livni (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90) (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Tzipi Livni

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Knesset Member warned that UNESCO must not be turned into a political arena, exploited by the Palestinians to promote their anti-Israel agenda. 

Member of Knesset Tzipi Livni, Israel’s former foreign minister, criticized the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for passing resolutions against Israel and its history, on the eve of the 41st annual UNESCO World Heritage Committee conference in Poland.

Speaking at the UNESCO International Conference on the Empowerment of Women in Paris on Friday, Livni called on the organization to reject an upcoming vote regarding the city of Hebron.

The 41st annual World Heritage Committee’s conference opened on Sunday, bringing together 21 member states, more than 170 observer nations and many non-governmental organizations.

At the conference, the Palestinian Authority (PA) lobbied for a new resolution to declare Hebron a “World Heritage Site in Danger” at the conference.

Hebron is a city holy to Jews because it contains the Cave of the Patriarchs.

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 – the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people, excluding Rachel – were all buried there.

King David made Hebron the first capital of the Jewish people, before moving it to Jerusalem. There has been a continued Jewish presence in Hebron over the centuries.

The building atop the Cave was built by Herod, a Roman client-king of Judea, over 2,000 years ago – some 600 years before Muhammad was born. Following the advent of Christianity and the Byzantine Conquest and occupation in the fourth century, the site was turned into a basilica and the largest of the inner rooms was built.

Only later, in the 600s, after the advent of Islam and the Arab conquest and occupation, the site was transformed from a church into a mosque.

Palestinians Ruining UNESCO

The PA resolution, which generated significant support from Arab States and was expected to pass, couldn’t dampen Israel’s hopes to generate support from Western countries to abstain or oppose the motion.

Livni warned that the Hebron Resolution “will not harm my people’s connection to [Jerusalem and Hebron], but  . . . will hurt UNESCO and the ability to promote common interests,” and said that the organization “must not be turned into a political arena” by “member states that exploit UNESCO for political purposes and to open conflicts.”

UNESCO was criticized by Israel and other states in May after the 58-member UNESCO Executive Board approved a resolution at a meeting in Paris which noted that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem “are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam” but called them “Palestinian sites”.

Two 2016 UNESCO resolutions on Jerusalem were criticized in Israel and the Jewish community for omitting any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.

By: The Tower and United with Israel Staff