Tuesday, 16 January, 2018

Palestinians hail UNESCO Hebron vote protested by Israel

The Al Ibrahimi mosque often has heavy Israeli military presence around it. Mussa Qawasma  Reuters The Al Ibrahimi mosque often has heavy Israeli military presence around it. Mussa Qawasma Reuters
Ron Matthews | 10 July, 2017, 00:17

The Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron was declared a world heritage site in danger by the UN's cultural body on Friday.

Hebron, thought to be 6,000 years old and home for Al-Ibrahimi mosque, is considered by Muslims to be the fourth holiest site for almost 1,000 years.

The Palestinians hailed UNESCO's decision as a boost for their strategy of a "diplomatic Intifada", or uprising, persuading the worldwide community that the Palestinians require their own sovereign state in East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

It is most likely that the journalist meant to relay that the site had been built on and modified over the centuries by whomever happened to be in control of the territory at the time.

The colonisers living in Hebron are protected by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, with Palestinians saying the settlements and heavy military presence are degrading and make their lives impossible.

Rula Ma'ay'ah, Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, called the listing a "historic achievement, which affirms the Palestinian identity of Hebron and Al-Ibrahimi mosque, that belong to the heritage of the Palestinian people".

At the centre of the dispute is the site known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque and to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli defense minister of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu Party, described Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, as "a politically biased, disgraceful and anti-Semitic organization".

Bennett, leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, also heads Israel's national Unesco committee.

Israel has accused UNESCO of making a politically motivated move, part of what it says is an attempt to deny the Jewish character and heritage of certain key sites in the Holy Land.

The resolution was passed, said Haley, "despite protests by the United States, Israel and other countries".

"We intend on making sure that Hebron remains Jewish". "Only in places Israel is present in, like Hebron, are religious freedoms for all, promised".

"The Jewish connection to Hebron goes back thousands of years".

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

All this points to the fact that the United Nations recognises the diplomatic battle that Palestinians are faced with day after day, while also understanding the significance of the city of Hebron.

The site is holy to both religions, with Old Testament figures including Abraham believed to be buried there.

Palestine's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities previously said al-Khalil urgently needed protection from "assaults that harm the exceptional worldwide value of the place".

The Ibrahimi Mosque has always been a flashpoint of Zionist colonial violence. In an intractable and long-running battle, Unesco's recognition is, at least, a move in the right direction for Palestinians.

In 1994, an American Jew named Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Palestinians praying at the site, killing 29 before being beaten to death by survivors.

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