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UNESCO List Gets New Sites, Cries of Anti-Semitism Follow

Statement follows decision recognizing Palestinian site
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 7, 2017 8:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – The West Bank city of Hebron's Old Town, as well a religious site it houses, were added to the UNESCO list of world heritage in danger in a 12-3 decision in Poland on Friday, drawing praise from Palestinians and outrage from Israelis. Israel, which claims Hebron as the birthplace of the Jewish people, said the decision's wording ignored its own historic links to the city, reports the AP, with the Telegraph adding the sites were recognized as Palestinian heritage sites. The Israeli ambassador to UNESCO left the session, in which the committee decided Israeli occupation was endangering the Old City and what's variously known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs or the al-Ibrahimi mosque; it's believed to house the tomb of Abraham, a key figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The decision obliges the World Heritage committee to review Hebron's situation every year.

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Israel's education minister, who heads Israel's national UNESCO Committee, said in a statement that "Jewish ties to Hebron are stronger than the disgraceful UNESCO vote." Israel's defense minister added "UNESCO is a politically biased, shameful and anti-Semitic organization whose decisions are scandalous, and I hope that with the help of our great friend the United States, the organization's budget will be cut off." The US had allied with Israel in an attempt to garner nay votes, with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley writing to both UNESCO's director general and the secretary general of the UN asking them to come out against it. The Palestinian minister of tourism hailed the decision, claiming it showed Hebron and its mosque "historically belong to the Palestinian people." (Read more UNESCO stories.)

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