TEL AVIV — The United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Friday declared the Tomb of the Patriarchs – considered the second holiest site in Judaism after the Temple Mount – to be a Palestinian world heritage site in danger.
Besides the tomb, UNESCO’s World Heritage List also declared the City of Hebron to be a danger site located in the “State of Palestine,” even though no such state exists.
Haaretz reported on the resolution:
The resolution that was proposed by the Palestinians includes two main clauses. The first asserts that Hebron’s Old City and the Tomb of the Patriarchs are Palestinian heritage sites, and will be registered as such in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The second asserts that the two sites are to be recognized as being in danger, meaning that each year UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will convene to discuss their case
The Times of Israel reported on the vote:
Twelve countries voted in favor of the move, while three opposed it. Six countries abstained.
Votes to inscribe sites onto UNESCO’s World Heritage List are usually done by a show of hands among all the member states. But three countries — Poland, Croatia and Jamaica — requested a secret ballot. Several states objected, leading to a shouting match between delegates, and Israeli Ambassador Carmel Shama-Hacohen storming to the desk of the session’s chairman to make Israel’s case. The kerfuffle ended after the chairman, a Polish diplomat, called in security.
…The membership of this year’s Heritage committee includes five countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic ties, and a number of others that routinely support pro-Palestinian resolutions. The 21 member states are Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nation, stated: “This attempt to sever the ties between Israel and Hebron is shameful and offensive, and eliminates UNESCO’s last remaining shred of credibility. To disassociate Israel from the burial grounds of the patriarchs and matriarchs of our nation is an ugly display of discrimination, and an act of aggression against the Jewish people.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tweeted:
UNESCO seems intent on sprouting anti-Jewish lies, while it remains silent as the region's heritage is destroyed by brutal extremists.
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) July 7, 2017
In a statement sent to Breitbart Jerusalem and other media outlets, Education Minister Naftali Bennett slammed the UNESCO decision as “disappointing and disgraceful,” and said UNESCO “denies history and distorts reality, knowingly serving those attempting to erase the Jewish state.”
Bennett, who also heads Israel’s national UNESCO Committee, added, “Israel will not resume its cooperation with UNESCO so long as it remains a political tool, rather than professional organization.”
Bennet outlined the Jewish history in Hebron:
The Jewish connection to Hebron goes back thousands of years. Hebron, the birthplace of King David’s kingdom, and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the first Jewish purchase in Israel and resting place of our forefathers – are our People’s oldest heritage sites. UNESCO’s resolution must be rejected, and we our efforts to strengthen the city of our fathers increased
Our presence in Hebron was continuous until 1929 when Arabs massacred dozens of Jews. That brutal murder failed to sever our ties to the city and Tomb of the Patriarchs, which has been a Jewish site since biblical times. No vote will change these simple truths.
Emmanuel Nahshon, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, called the motion “fake news.”
“They are trying to rewrite Jewish history and the history of the region,” he said.
— Emmanuel Nahshon (@EmmanuelNahshon) July 7, 2017
— Emmanuel Nahshon (@EmmanuelNahshon) July 7, 2017
Yishai Fleisher, international spokesman for the Hebron Jewish community, stated, “Clearly, this was yet another politicized, anti-Israel maneuver manufactured by the Palestinian Authority and it’s purpose is clear: to delegitimize the ancient Jewish presence in Hebron in particular, and thereby, undermine the historical ties of Jewish people to the land of Israel in general.”
Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs is believed to be the resting place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. Rachel is believed to be buried in Bethlehem.
This reporter previously documented the Jewish ties to Hebron:
Hebron is the oldest Jewish community in the world, with Jews having lived there almost continuously for over 2,500 years. There are accounts of the trials of the city’s Jewish community throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman periods.
In 1929, as a result of an Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered, the entire Jewish community fled the city, with Hebron becoming temporarily devoid of Jews. Jews returned when Israel recaptured the area in 1967.
King David was anointed in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years. A thousand years later, during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, the city was the scene of extensive fighting in which many Jews were killed.
Friday’s vote followed a vote earlier this week in which UNESCO passed an anti-Israel resolution disavowing Israel’s ties to Jerusalem’s Old City and its ancient walls.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.