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Arab Envoy Says 'Sorry' for UNESCO Vote

10 July 2017

Hebron is the largest Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank with a population of some 200,000.

The UN's world heritage body has recognised the old city of the West Bank city of Hebron as a Palestinian world heritage site, sparking outrage from Israel.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP the Hebron motion was "fake news".

It was not incidental that Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama HaCohen mentioned the Holocaust at the Krakow meeting, which took place in a country where so many Jews were killed in concentration camps in World War II.

Mr. Amro, founder of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements, is facing trial in an Israeli military court on a number of charges, some of which date back a number of years and have only recently been reactivated. "It's disappointing and disgraceful that time and again UNESCO denies history and distorts reality, knowingly serving those attempting to erase the Jewish state". This would, in effect, force UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to meet to discuss their case.

Over the centuries, Romans, Jews, Crusaders, Mamluks and the British have conquered the city, which today lies in the southern part of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank.

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Although UNESCO's final resolution emphasized the importance of the site to Jews, Christians and Muslims, it was totally rejected by Israel.

All this points to the fact that the United Nations recognises the diplomatic battle that Palestinians are faced with day after day, while also understanding the significance of the city of Hebron. Several hundred ultranationalist settlers live in heavily guarded enclaves in the city, amid about 170,000 Palestinians.

Iglesias declined to comment on whether Hebron had been recognized as Palestinian, saying the exact wording would be decided at a later time.

The cultural arm of the United Nations took the unusual decision to hold the vote - which resulted in a 12-3 outcome with six abstentions - in secret. The Hebrew name of the complex reflects the very old tradition of the double tombs of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, considered the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people, who are all believed to be buried there. "There is a huge problem in my toilet and it is much more important than the decision you just adopted".

Israel's education minister Naftali Bennett accused the body of acting as "a political tool, rather than professional organisation".

The vote means that Hebron's Old City and the Ibrahimi mosque, the place where an American Jewish settler massacred 29 Palestinians in 1994, will be added as Palestinian World Heritage sites on UNESCO's register.

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Site is also a stark symbol of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hebron has a long history of violence.

But Alaa Shahin, from the Palestinian Hebron municipality, said the vote could help encourage tourism.

While Maaya said she looks forward to the potential financial boost from an increase in tourism in Hebron, she also thinks foreigners making their way to Hebron, one of the most controversial and unsafe cities in the occupied West Bank, will foster support for the greater Palestinian cause. "We also call on the global community to recognize the manipulation to which bodies like UNESCO are being subjected".

The UNESCO resolution characterized the site as facing danger, which directly contradicts facts on the ground.

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Arab Envoy Says 'Sorry' for UNESCO Vote