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UNESCO inscribes Hebron on endangered heritage list
10 July 2017, 12:17 | Nichole Osborne
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The Old City of Hebron - a hotspot of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - has been declared a "Palestinian World Heritage Site in Danger" by UNESCO, angering Israel who have called the decision "delusional".
Hebron, thought to be 6,000 years old, is considered by Muslims to be the fourth holiest site for almost 1,000 years.
Issa Amro, the founder of Youth Against Settlements has campaigned against Israel's military's shut-down of the once-thriving Palestinian neighborhood around Shuhada Street in Hebron, as well as against illegal Israeli settlements in and near the city.
"Not a Jewish site?!" he asked sarcastically.
The Israelis living in Hebron are protected by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, with Palestinians saying the settlements makes their lives impossible.
Adding to the historical sensitivities and outrage, the World Heritage Committee is convening in Krakow, Poland, leading some Israelis to connect the Unesco vote to a desecration of the memory of Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
But Palestine's minister of tourism, Rula Maayah described it as a "historic development" because it stressed the city and its famous mosque "historically belong to the Palestinian people".
But Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Unesco's "automatic Arab majority succeeded in passing the proposed resolution that attempts to appropriate the national symbols of the Jewish people". 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".
The resolution was passed, said Haley, "despite protests by the United States, Israel and other countries".
Israel has long accused the United Nations of inherent bias against it and there have been a number of disputes at the organisation where Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has sought to take the battle for statehood.
Another clear benefit is that Hebron, one of the world's oldest cities, would be entitled to the allocation of immediate assistance from the World Heritage Fund and gain the attention of the global powers. The resolution also criticized the Israeli government for its archaeological projects in the capital and in Hebron.
Gheit also credited the Palestinian leadership and its diplomacy with the success, Afify said. "And it further discredits an already highly questionable United Nations agency", she said in a statement.
The Ibrahimi Mosque has always been a flashpoint of Zionist colonial violence.
That's the goal of at least one Palestinian leader. In 1994, an Israeli settler shot and killed 29 Palestinian worshippers at the holy site before he was beaten to death.
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