Israel Bars UNESCO Team From Hebron Field Visit

Israel Bars UNESCO Team From Hebron Field Visit, Jerusalem PostTovah Lazaroff, June 25, 2017

Southern view of the Cave of the Patriarchs . (photo credit:WIKIMEDIA)

The Tomb of the Patriarchs is Judaism’s second most holy site, after the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The Herodian Structure built around the tombs houses uniquely houses both Jewish prayer sanctuaries and the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The bulk of the Palestinian city of Hebron is located under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. But the Tomb of the Patriarchs and some of its Old City, are located in a small area of the city under Israeli military control. Some 1,000 Jewish live in that section of the city.

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Israel has refused to allow a UNESCO investigatory team to make a field visit to Hebron in advance of pending July vote to register its Old City on the list of World Heritage in Danger under the “State of Palestine.”

This is a “principled and strategic” stand, Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO in Paris Carmel Shama HaCohen said on Saturday.

Hebron’s Old City, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs, is one of the 35 sites the World Heritage Committee plans to consider for inscription on the World Heritage List when it meets in Krakow, Poland from July 2-12.

The Palestinian Authority has fast tracked the inscription process by claiming that the site is endangered.

Since UNESCO recognized Palestine as a member state in 2011, the Palestinian Authority has similarly fast tracked inscription of two other sites on the list of World Heritage in Danger. This includes the Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem in 2012 and the ancient terraces of Battir (2014).

The International Council on Monuments and Sites, a professional body, which investigates nomination requests and provides recommendations for inscription on the list of World Heritage in Danger had recommended that both nominations go through the normal process after making field visits to both sites.

This time Israel has rejected its request to make a field visit to Hebron, this includes a refusal to grant entry visas to Israel for the group, Shama HaCohen said.

The 21-member World Heritage Committee rejected the ICOMOS conclusions not to place the Church of the Nativity and the terrace of Battir on its endangered list, Shama HaCohen said.

Therefore, it’s “a shame to waste the time and money” of the ICOMOS committee whose recommendations are otherwise typically adhered to with regard to the inscription process, Shama HaCohen said.

“Israel won’t take part in and won’t legitimize any Palestinian political moves under the guise of culture and heritage,” Shama HaCohen said.

The only steps it will take is to wage a diplomatic campaign to organize a large majority to block a process filled with “lies that plots against the state of Israel as well as the history and the connection of the Jewish people to this important holy site,” Shama HaCohen said.

“We are in the midst of a campaign against the opening of an additional Palestinian front in the religious and cultural war they are trying to force on us,” Shama HaCohen said.

He added that he hoped that this time around Israel would succeed in blocking the move.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs is Judaism’s second most holy site, after the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The Herodian Structure built around the tombs houses uniquely houses both Jewish prayer sanctuaries and the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The bulk of the Palestinian city of Hebron is located under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. But the Tomb of the Patriarchs and some of its Old City, are located in a small area of the city under Israeli military control. Some 1,000 Jewish live in that section of the city.

The PA has warned that Israeli actions have placed the Herodian structure and Hebron’s historic Old City in danger. It has provided UNESCO with a list of complaints that includes placement of road blocks and checkpoints, the tear gas used to quell Palestinian demonstrations and failure to make necessary repairs. It has included in that list recent attempts by the Jewish residents of the city, to purchase property on Shuhadah Street.

Israel has rejected all claims that it has harmed the Tomb or the structures in the Old City.

It has further argued that Israel’s military control of that area of the city is based on a 1997 agreement with the PA. It has told UNESCO that any inscription of the site should be done at the request of both Israel and the Palestinians.

Explore posts in the same categories: Jewish holy sites in Israel, Tomb of the Patriarchs, UN and Israel, UNESCO

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