The Palestinian Authority (PA) is requesting that UNESCO recognize Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs, one of the holiest sites in Judaism, as a Palestinian World Heritage Site.
The PA has asked UNESCO to fast-track the process, claiming the site is in danger of destruction by the “occupying force,” citing Israeli construction at the site as proof.
Since 2011, two sites — Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity and the ancient terraces of Battir — have been recognized as Palestinian World Heritage Sites.
Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs is considered the second-holiest site in Judaism. The cave is said to be the burial place of biblical figures Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. The Wye River Accords gave the Islamic Waqf, a Muslim administrative body, control over most of the Cave of the Patriarchs. As such, Jewish prayer is limited inside, and Jews are only allowed to visit other sections during holidays.
Meanwhile, convincing the 21-country Heritage Committee to reject the Palestinian move will be problematic for Israel, as a number of Arab and Muslim countries are on the committee.
Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO,
Carmel Shama-Hacohen, slammed the move by the Palestinians.
“This is a clear continuation of the attacks and hallucinatory outrageous votes in UNESCO regarding Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall,” Shama-Hacohen said. “Israel respects Muslim sensibilities and ensures freedom of worship, order, security, routine maintenance and the development of infrastructure supporting the holy sites.” JN