UNESCO declares Hebron shrine Palestinian, Israel pulls United Nations funding

Israel Has No Sovereignty over Jerusalem: UNESCO

Israel has reacted with rage after the United Nations cultural organization UNESCO passed two resolutions recognizing Hebron's Old City and the Ibrahimi mosque, in the occupied West Bank, as endangered Palestinian heritage sites.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also wasn't happy, calling it "another delusional decision by UNESCO".

"Not a Jewish site?" he asked.

The decision by Unesco to list the old city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank as a world heritage site has, unsurprisingly, prompted a game of emotional and financial blackmail by Tel Aviv.

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.

The secret vote in the Polish city of Krakow saw the Palestinian proposal pass 12 to 3 with six abstentions.

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".

"Despite a frantic Israeli campaign spreading lies and distorting the facts about Palestinian rights, the world has recognized our right to register Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque [the Muslim term for the Tomb of the Patriarchs] under Palestinian sovereignty", the PA's foreign ministry said.

The prime minister also announced that he would cut an additional $1 million from the funds Israel pays for its United Nations membership, and will instead allocate them to the establishment of a "Jewish Heritage Museum in Kiryat Arba and Hebron", along with other projects in the field. That resolution was passed by UNESCO's Executive Board in April 2016 at a meeting in Paris.

Hebron has witnessed much Jewish-Arab strife and bloodshed.

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"Clearly, this was yet another politicized, anti-Israel maneuver manufactured by the Palestinian Authority", said Yishai Fleisher, the global spokesman for the Hebron Jewish Community.

The United Nations has urged Israel to abide by worldwide law as it reactivates charges against a prominent Palestinian human rights defender.

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

Both Biblical sites are the two holiest and the most historically ensconced in Judaism, but are precariously located from a geo-political standpoint.

"It represents an affront to history". Last year, UNESCO denied Israel's ties to the Western Wall and Temple Mount, which made many Israeli leaders question the legitimacy of the agency.

It also could bolster their efforts to fight what they believe are Israeli attempts to take over disputed religious sites in the Holy Land.

"It is a complicated situation in Hebron but I hope this UNESCO decision can help to improve things, we will see with time what happens".

Arabs massacred 69 Jews there in 1929.

In 1994, Israeli-American Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslims praying at the site, killing 29, before being beaten to death by survivors. In an intractable and long-running battle, Unesco's recognition is, at least, a move in the right direction for Palestinians.

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