The UNESCO World Heritage Committee acting on a proposal brought by Palestine has put the West Bank city of Hebron on its list of world heritage in danger. This has made Israel angry and has triggered a new Israeli-Palestinian spat at the international body.
The inclusion of the Old City of West Bank into the list of World Heritage in danger is aimed at drawing world’s attention to the situation in Hebron.
The resolution for declaring Hebron as a protected area of outstanding universal value was brought by the Palestine and the resolution was fast-tracked by the UNESCO on the basis that the site was under severe threat. Palestine accuses Israel for involving in violations, vandalism and for causing damage to properties in the area.
In a separate vote, the heritage committee had also supported a resolution condemning Israel’s actions in Jerusalem. This has further infuriated Israel.
The resolution is viewed as a major victory for the Palestinian Diplomacy at the UN. In 2012, Palestine has been granted observer status by the UN General Assembly, meaning it is not recognised as a fully-fledged country.
Hebron is cited as one of the oldest cities in the world. The city is very old dating from the Chalcolithic period or more than 3,000 years BC. The Old City of Hebron has sites that are holy to both Jews and Muslims, known as either the Tomb of the Patriarchs or the al-Ibrahimi mosque. The city which is the largest city in the West Bank is home to more than 200,000 Palestinians and a few hundred Israeli settlers.
Israel has rejected the Hebron resolution saying that the resolution’s reference to the city as Islamic denies thousands of years of Jewish connection with the city.
Israel believes that Hebron is the birthplace of the Jewish people. The religious site at the Hebron was originally built by the Jewish King Herod, which was later added to by the Muslim caliphs.
Israel has accused the UN for adopting anti-Israel bias at all issues concerning it. In May, UNESCO had passed a separate resolution on Jerusalem condemning Israel.