UNESCO declares West Bank shrine as Palestinian, angering Israel
A view of Ibrahimi Mosque which was declared as a Palestinian world heritage site by the UN on July 7. Photograph: (Reuters)
The United Nations' cultural organization declared an ancient shrine in the occupied West Bank, that is revered by Muslims and Jews, a "Palestinian World Heritage Site in Danger" on Friday (July 7), angering Israel.
UNESCO took the decision at a meeting in Krakow, Poland to declare Hebron and the two adjoined shrines at its heart - the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Muslim Ibrahimi Mosque - as Palestinian.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was "another delusional UNESCO decision" and said that Israel would "continue to guard the Cave of the Patriarchs, to ensure religious freedom for everybody and ... guard the truth."
Hebron is the largest Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank with a population of some 200,000. About 1,000 Israeli settlers live in the heart of the city and for years, it has been a place of religious friction between Muslims and Jews.
Jews believe that the Cave of the Patriarchs is where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives, are buried. Muslims, who, like Christians, also revere Abraham, built the Ibrahimi mosque, also known as the Sanctuary of Abraham, in the 14th century.