The Friday session, which took place in Krakow, Poland led to Hebron’s Old City being put on the agency’s World Heritage list as a site in danger, UNESCO spokeswoman Lucia Iglesias confirmed, according to AP.
The decision came after a secret vote of 12-3, with six abstentions.
Although the move itself wasn’t deemed controversial by Tel Aviv, the decision to describe Hebron as a “Palestinian heritage site” infuriated Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, who walked out of the session in protest.
Shama-Hacohen also expressed anger after learning that the vote would only be partially secret, as it would not be conducted behind a screen. A shouting match reportedly broke out between the ambassador and the Palestinian and Lebanese envoys over the issue, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.
The ambassador wasn’t the only Israeli official angered by the UN agency’s wording. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also wasn’t happy, calling it “another delusional decision by UNESCO.”
Denouncing the UNESCO vote, Netanyahu announced that Tel Aviv would trim a further $1 million from the country’s United Nations contribution. Israel plans to channel those funds to set up a Museum of the Heritage of the Jewish People in Kiryat Arba and Hebron.
“In the face of UNESCO’s denial, the prime minister is determined to present to the whole world the historical truth and the thousands of years of deep Jewish roots in Hebron,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement, the Times of Israel reports.
Israel’s latest funding cut to the UN will be the country’s fourth in the past 12 months. Roughly $10 million have been withheld since December as the UN continues to pass resolutions which are perceived as anti-Israeli by Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded by calling UNESCO a “politically slanted organization, disgraceful and anti-Semitic, whose decisions are scandalous,” Haaretz reported.
“Jewish ties to Hebron are stronger than the disgraceful UNESCO vote,” said Naftali Bennett, Israel’s education minister and head of the country’s national UNESCO committee.
It is “disappointing and embarrassing to see UNESCO denying history and distorting reality time after time to knowingly serve those who try to wipe the Jewish state off the map,” Bennett added. “Israel won’t renew cooperation with UNESCO as long as it continues to serve as a tool for political attacks instead of being a professional organization.”
Iglesias declined to comment on whether Hebron had been recognized as Palestinian, saying the exact wording would be decided at a later time.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians praised the move, with the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling it “the only logical and correct decision,” and adding that “…Hebron’s Old City and holy site is under threat due to the irresponsible, illegal, and highly damaging actions of Israel, the occupying Power, which maintains a regime of separation and discrimination in the city based on ethnic background and religion.”
Jews believe the Cave of the Patriarchs, located in Hebron, is where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their wives are buried. For Muslims, the city is home to the Ibrahimi mosque, also known the Sanctuary of Abraham, which was built in the 14th century.
Sabotage? False fire alarm disrupts Assange’s G20 speech (VIDEO)
The WikiLeaks editor had been due to discuss cyber war at the ‘anti-establishment’ conference Friday evening when attendees were suddenly forced to evacuate the venue.
According to the group that arranged the talk, DiEM25, the alarm was triggered “just as we announced Julian Assange was about to connect via video link.”
DiEM25, which aims to “democratize Europe” and end “Brussels bureaucracy,” believe the incident was an act of sabotage.
“Someone appears to have manipulated the fire alarm. Everyone had to evacuate,” a DiEM25 spokesperson told RT.com.
“The firefighters came, found nothing, but didn’t let us back in. We’re continuing outside. We hope to still have Julian Assange [speaking] later.”
A spokesperson for the Hamburg fire services stated that the incident had been recorded as a “false alarm” after an “automatic fire alarm” at the venue went off.
“There were technical problems with the automatic alarm. No sabotage,” the spokesperson said.
With leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel set for two days of round-table discussions, the alternative summit saw former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis speak before the alarm incident.
He described how “neo-liberalism took shape” at G20 meetings in the past.
“The Washington consensus was spread throughout the world. It was a time when the US, Japanese, British governments and the European Union were in unison about the need to push down wages, deny trade union rights, expand the reach of multinational corporations and create pure freedom for capital and commodities,” Varoufakis said.
He added that the 2008 global financial crisis had since created a new problem and described how world powers were now much more fragmented, giving rise to the “various cockroaches of xenophobic racism.”