Israel cuts ties with UNESCO for its pandering to Palestinian outrageous demands

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told UNESCO to take a hike for its call to remove the Cave of Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb from the list of Israel’s national heritage sites as ‘part of Palestinian escalation in international organizations.’

YNET NEWS Danny Ayalon told the Knesset, “Israel rejects all five of UNESCO’s decisions and has no intention of cooperating with the organization,”
the deputy FM added. “We’ve decided to suspend our cooperation with UNESCO in these fields, and with regards to previous decisions.”

Other politicians, including Knesset members Arieh Eldad (National Union) and Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) also blasted the organization’s decision.

Last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to UNESCO’s decision on Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of Patriarchs by saying that “the attempt to disconnect Israel and its heritage is absurd.”

A statement released by Netanyahu’s office said, “It is unfortunate that an organization established in order to promote historic heritage sites around the world is trying, for political reasons, to uproot the connection between Israel and its heritage.”

UNESCO said Rachel’s Tomb is located on the site of a mosque and asked Israel to remove it, as well as the Cave of Patriarchs, from its list of heritage sites.

Haaretz One of the sites, in the city of Hebron, has been a flashpoint for decades. Jews call it the Cave of the Patriarchs, where the Bible says the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried along with three of their wives. Muslims call it the al-Ibrahimi mosque, reflecting the fact that Abraham is considered the father of both Judaism and Islam.

Netanyahu issued a statement condemning the UNESCO decision which was made last week. “The attempt to detach the people of Israel from its heritage is absurd,” the statement said. “If the places where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish nation are buried, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Leah and Rachel some 4,000 years ago are not part of the Jewish heritage then what is?”

Earlier this year Israel registered the Hebron shrine as well as a tomb near Jerusalem, believed to be the burial site of the Matriarch Rachel, as national heritage sites.

Both shrines are located in the West Bank, territory the Palestinians want as part of their future state. Palestinians view the additions of the shrines to Israel’s heritage list as a land grab.

“It is regrettable that the organization established to promote historical heritage sites worldwide is trying for political reasons to detach the ties between the Jewish people and their heritage,” Netanyahu’s statement said.

“The state of Israel in contrast to its neighbors will continue to preserve freedom of religion at these sites and preserve them for future generations,” he said.

Referring to the structure as the “Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb” in its statement, the UNESCO board voted 44 to one, with 12 abstentions, to reaffirm the site was “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law.”

Israelis charged that Rachel’s Tomb was traditionally referred to also by Muslims as such in Arabic, as “Qubat Rachel.” They charge that the name “Bilal bin Rabah Mosque” only came into use following Arab-Israeli riots in 1996 and was coined by Palestinians for political reasons.
Army Radio on Friday quoted a Foreign Ministry statement as charging the UNESCO decision used “crudely politically deceptive” language and that this distorted and sidestepped the body’s cultural mission. A spokesman also called the UNESCO decision “shameful” and charged it “reeked of political bias.”

The UNESCO executive board also expressed “deep concern” over “ongoing Israeli excavations and archaeological works” at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s walled, historic Old City.