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Israelis Shocked After UN Denies Israel's Ties to Abraham's Tomb    

07-08-2017

Israelis are outraged after the United Nations' cultural agency dealt yet another blow to the Jewish state Friday. 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the ancient burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as Palestinian territory. 

The resolution passed with a 12-3 vote and came on as a secret ballot at an annual UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Poland. 

Tomb or Mosque?

The tomb is considered the second holiest place in Judaism and was constructed by Jews in Hebron 2,000 years ago. 

Both Jews and Muslims revere the same site in Hebron as the traditional burial place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs, but Muslims call it the Ibrahimi Mosque.
  
Palestinians eagerly welcomed the resolution for affirming their belief that the historic site belongs exclusively to them.

"This is a historical development because it stressed that Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque historically belong to the Palestinian people," said Palestinian Minister of Tourism Rula Maayah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the resolution "another delusional decision by UNESCO."

"This time they decided that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is a Palestinian site, meaning that it is not Jewish, and that the site is in danger. Not a Jewish site?! Who is buried there? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah – our patriarchs and matriarchs!" Netanyahu said in a statement. 

Many are concerned this latest resolution is one step toward the Palestinians completely barring non-Muslims from visiting and praying at the site. 

That's the goal of at least one Palestinian leader. 

Hebron's Deputy Mayor Youseff Al Jabari says the tomb is nothing but a mosque. 

"It is a pure Muslim mosque.  It is a place for Muslim worshipers and we would do all our efforts and everything we can in order to return this place to being a mosque for Muslim prayers only," he said. 

Political Games 

The small Jewish community living in Hebron believes UNESCO is playing a political game that seeks to sever any connection Jews have to the land of Israel. 

"Clearly, this was yet another politicized, anti-Israel maneuver manufactured by the Palestinian Authority," said Yishai Fleisher, the International spokesman for the Hebron Jewish Community. "We call upon the government of Israel to issue an appropriate answer to this reprehensible decision: to immediately suspend all payments to UNESCO and transfer those very same funds for projects that will strengthen Jewish Hebron."

It didn't take long for Netanyahu to answer that call. 

Following the resolution, the prime minister cut an additional $1 million from the membership funds Israel pays to the U.N. and transferred it all to the establishment of "The Museum of the Heritage of the Jewish People in Kiryat Arba and Hebron" and to other related projects. 

Israel vs. United Nations Showdown

This recent resolution is the second one in three days that denies Israel's claim to historical sites.

The first was a resolution passed on July 4th which denied Israel's connection to any part of Jerusalem's Old City and declared Israel an "occupier" of Palestinian land. 

These are just the latest in a series of resolutions UNESCO has passed against Israel. Last year, UNESCO denied Israel's ties to the Western Wall and Temple Mount, which made many Israeli leaders question the legitimacy of the agency. 

"Nothing is more disgraceful than UNESCO declaring the world's only Jewish state the 'occupier' of the Western Wall and Jerusalem's Old City," said Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon. "No faux 'heritage committee' can sever the bonds between our people and Jerusalem."

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