UN Declares Ancient Jewish Holy Site Is Now Palestinian

Israel Has No Sovereignty over Jerusalem: UNESCO

UNESCO declares West Bank city of Hebron as World Heritage Site in Danger

The United Nation's world heritage body has recognised the old city of Hebron in the West Bank as a Palestinian world heritage site, sparking outrage from Israel.

Hebron's Old City is home to about 800 Israeli settlers, who move about freely under army protection, while thousands of Palestinians are subjected to harsh military rule, roadblocks and checkpoints.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it "another delusional UNESCO decision" and ordered that another $1 million be cut from Israel's funding to the United Nations and instead be put towards establishing a museum aimed at showcasing Hebron's Jewish history.

Prime Minister Netanyahu on erev Shabbos, issued the following statement about the UNESCO decision: "This is another delusional UNESCO decision".

The resolution agreed by the committee also lists the old city and the religious site as being "in danger", meaning the world heritage committee will discuss the area's status annually. She would not elaborate, saying the exact wording would be decided later. Israel is not amused however and is seething with anger over the Unesco resolution which was adopted by secret ballot at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland.

Israel's far-right education minister, Naftali Bennett, denounced the move and accused the body of being "a political tool, rather than professional organisation". Explaining the reason for its opposition to classifying Hebron as a "Palestinian world heritage site", ICOMOS said that the Palestinian focus "only on the (Muslim) Mamluk period (of Hebron's heritage) ... means that potentially outstanding aspects of Hebron's urban history and persistence have been overlooked".

These are just the latest in a series of resolutions UNESCO has passed against Israel.

All six are considered the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish faith. As Israel works to ensure that future Jerusalem resolutions reflect Jewish history, it must now prepare for a similar campaign with regard to Hebron.

From a political perspective, the Unesco listing is bound to help the Palestinians as it will elicit greater interest and support from the worldwide community.

Dating back over 2,000 years, the monumental Herodian compound is believed to be the oldest continuously used intact prayer structure in the world, and is the oldest major building in the world that still fulfills its original function.

"The UNESCO vote on Hebron is tragic on several levels".

Promoting the resolution, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had argued: "Hebron's Old City and holy site is under threat due to [the] irresponsible, illegal and highly damaging actions of Israel, the occupying power".

Hebron has a long history of violence.

But Alaa Shahin, from the Palestinian Hebron municipality, said the vote could help encourage tourism.

In 1994, Israeli-American Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslims praying at the site, killing 29, before being beaten to death by survivors. "We decided not to go for violence, we chose to go only for political and diplomatic means", Majdi Khaldi, adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tells Newsweek by phone.

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