Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu read from the Chumash at the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday to protest what he called UNESCO’s “delusional resolution” to list the Mearas Hamachpela in Chevron as a Palestinian heritage site.
Quoting from the Torah portion Chayei Sarah, Genesis 23:16-19, Netanyahu read the story of Avraham’s purchase of the Machpelah Cave from Ephron the Hittite in Chevron for 400 shekels of silver.
And Avraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Avraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the hearing of the children of Cheth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant…And after this, Avraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre–the same is Chevron–in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Avraham for a possession of a burying-place by the children of Cheth.
“The connection between the Jewish People and Chevron and the Mearas Hamachpela is one of purchase and of history which may be without parallel in the history of peoples,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister added: “Of course this did not prevent the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) last Friday from passing yet another delusional resolution, this one determining that the Mearas Hamachpela … is a Palestinian heritage site.”
The WHC voted to register the Old City of Chevron – including the Mearas Hamachpela – under the “State of Palestine” in a secret ballot held at its annual meeting in Krakow, Poland. The motion passed with 12 countries voting in favor, three against and six abstaining.
Netanyahu repeated his decision from immediately after the vote Friday to cut an additional $1 million from Israel’s UN membership dues to fund the establishment of “The Museum of the Heritage of the Jewish People in Kiryat Arba and Chevron”. Israel has now cut $10 million in payments to the UN since last December and now pays only $1.7 million out of $11.7 million due.
“Against UNESCO’s denial, Israel will present to the world the historical truth and the Jewish People’s deep connection – of thousands of years – to Chevon just as we did with UNESCO’s other delusional decision regarding the absence of a connection to Yerushalayim,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister also said he had on Sunday ordered expedited procedures to move ahead with construction of the Kedem Center in Yerushalayim for displaying the historical and archaeological findings for the City of David. The 16,000 square meter center will be built outside the Old City walls at the entrance to the contested neighborhood of Silwan.
“This will be an impressive structure with extensive displays. The entire world will see the truth and the first visitors whom I will invite there will be UNESCO and UN delegations.”