Israel blasted as “shameful and anti-Semitic” the UNESCO designation of Old Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs as “Palestinian heritage sites in danger.” “Not a Jewish site?” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked, after 12 countries voted in favor, three against and six abstained from the resolution in a secret ballot held Friday, July 7, in Krakow, Poland. “Who is buried there, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, our patriarchs and matriarchs,” Netanyahu said.
“Everywhere else in the Middle East mosques, churches and synagogues are being destroyed. Only in Israel is freedom of worship guaranteed.”
The Cave built over the site purchased, according to the Bible, by Abraham is Judaism’s second holiest site after Jerusalem and Islam’s fourth. Both faiths worship there at separate times. By Jewish tradition, Hebron is hallowed as the first seat of King David’s kingdom’s 3,000 years ago.
“We’ll continue to safeguard the Cave of the Patriarchs, freedom of religion and truth,” Netanyahy vowed.
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.”
Opposition Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid, called UNESCO’s decision “a despicable falsification of history. Does UNESCO not believe that the Bible is heritage?”
The decision was hailed by Palestinian officials as a diplomatic victory against pressure from Israel and the US to derail the vote. Israel failed to have the motion on Hebron blocked, despite the personal intervention of the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.
This UN body consistently passes anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian resolutions. Tuesday, UNESCO carried a Jordanian-drafted resolution declaring Israel an 'occupying power' in Jerusalem’s Old City and denying the Jewish state’s right to sovereignty in its capital.