Palestinians hail UNESCO Hebron vote protested by Israel

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Palestinians applauded the listing of West Bank’s Hebron old city Friday as a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The decision recognizes the city, including Al-Ibrhimi Mosque, also known as the Sanctuary of Abraham or Tomb of Patriarchs, as Palestinian and in need of protection.

The decision taken in Krakaw, Poland was based on a proposal by Palestinians to draw attention to the situation of the old historical sites that are at risk currently.

Rula Ma’ay’ah, Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, called the listing a “historic achievement, which affirms the Palestinian identity of Hebron and Al-Ibrahimi mosque, that belong to the heritage of the Palestinian people.”

This shall “put Al-Ibrahimi mosque and its surrounding under protection from the consequences of Israeli aggression and continued Judaization processes,” said Ma’ay’ah.

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad Malki said in an emailed statement that it serves to refute Israeli lies about the history of Hebron city, calling it a “diplomatic victory.”

The decision drew an angry reaction by Israel, whose representative at the UNESCO left the session in a protest move, after the resolution passed by 12 votes in favor, three against and six abstains.

This decision makes Hebron as the fourth site to be registered under the State of Palestine, since UNESCO recognized it as a member state in 2011.

Hebron, thought to be 6,000 years old and home for Al-Ibrahimi mosque, is considered by Muslims to be the fourth holiest site for nearly 1,000 years.

It enshrines the tombs of Prophet Abraham, his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob and their wives. It is also believed Prophet Mohammad of Islam visited it on his night flight from Mecca to Jerusalem.

The entire old city in which the mosque is located is under Israeli control. The mosque was converted into a military post and divided into two parts; one for Muslims and another for Jews, although Israeli soldiers control access to it and often impose restrictions on Palestinians.

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