Israel scored a symbolic victory at UNESCO Friday when a report by the organization said a Palestinian request to have the Old City of Chevron, including the site of the Mearas Hamachpela, registered as a Palestinian heritage site, had given “little recognition” to the town’s Jewish history.
The Palestinian request to register Chevron’s Old City will be up for vote this week at UNESCO’ annual World Heritage Committee assembly in Krakow, Poland. Israel will find itself fighting on two fronts as it also seeks to fight a resolution that would condemn it for what a Jordanian sponsored resolution claims are illegal works in and around the Old City.
Last month, Israel blocked an ICOMOS fact finding mission to Chevron, saying it would “not provide legitimization to any Palestinian political move under the guise of culture and heritage.”
While the ICOMOS report said it “considers that the comparative analysis has not so far justified consideration of this property for the World Heritage List,” Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen acknowledged that despite the fact that the report was so conclusive, Israel still faces an uphill struggle to get the motion blocked.
“Were it not for the fact that we are talking about the state of Israel and the Jewish people, both of which are obsessively hounded in international fora and particularly at the UnIted Nations, a report like this could have let us go home early for the summer vacation instead of heading off to Krakow to fight for the truth and to prevent registration of the site under the name of Palestine,” Shama-Hacohen said.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to Israel and anti-Israel resolutions that verge on anti-Semitism the Islamic bloc votes automatically, while other nations, including ‘enlightened’ European countries, have no shame in … abstaining, even though they understand that by abstaining they provide de facto support for an outrageous resolution,” he added.