RAMALLAH, July 7, 2017 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas Friday praised the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO for its decision to recognize Hebron’s Old City and the Ibrahimi Mosque as endangered Palestinian heritage sites.
During the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee, UNESCO passed the resolution with a partially secret ballot. Twelve states voted in favor of the resolution while three others voted against. Six states chose to abstain.
Abbas said, “It is due to Palestinian diplomacy and the support of our friends in the world, that UNESCO voted on two important resolutions; the first concerning Jerusalem and the second about Hebron for being two historical cities.”
“The resolutions passed despite the pressure exercised on many states by Israel and the United States,” he added.
Palestinians filed a request to list the site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List six years ago, but decided to fast-track the application on the basis that the site is under Israeli threats and violations.
Minister of foreign affairs Riyad al-Malki expressed dismay at the states that did not support the resolution and have chosen instead to accept the fabricated Israeli narrative. He said, “This is an indirect encouragement for Israel to continue its violations and overlook the danger surrounding Palestinian heritage and rights.”
Hebron is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world and ancient Hebron is identified with Jebel er-Rumeideh dating from the Chalcolithic period (circa 4000-3000 BC) down to the Umayyad period (661-750 AD), UNESCO said.
Its Old City is home to the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews as the burial place of Prophets Ibrahim, Isaac, Jacob and their wives.
Since the 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers at the mosque by Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein, Israel divided the mosque into two parts, with the larger part turned into a synagogue.
Heavy scrutiny is imposed on Palestinians and large areas are completely closed off to them, including an important market and the main Shuhada Street.
This has turned the mosque into a point of conflict and constant tension has marred its sanctity.
An estimated 800 Israeli settlers live under the protection of thousands of soldiers in Hebron’s city center. The old city is home to over 30,000 Palestinians.