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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on Friday declared the Old City of Hebron an endangered world heritage site, sparking outrage from Israel in a new spat with the Palestinians at the worldwide body.

Although UNESCO's final resolution emphasized the importance of the site to Jews, Christians and Muslims, it was totally rejected by Israel.

This decision makes Hebron as the fourth site to be registered under the State of Palestine, since UNESCO recognized it as a member state in 2011.

In fact it has been Israel that has relentlessly tried to use Jewish reverence for various sites in the occupied West Bank, especially in Jerusalem, as a pretext to try to assert Israeli sovereignty over them.

On Friday, in Krakow, Poland, it registered Hebron's Old Town and the Tomb of the Patriarchs to the State of Palestine when adding it on to the same endangered list.

Rula Maayah, the Palestinian minister of tourism, said it was a "historical development because it stressed that Hebron" and its historic mosque "historically belong to the Palestinian people".

The city is home to the Al-Ibrahimi mosque, known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs: the resting place of key Biblical figures Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and one of the most important religious sites to Muslims and Jews alike. Each cut has come after various United Nations bodies voted to adopt decisions which Israel said discriminated against it.

"Against UNESCO's denial of the past, Prime Minister Netanyahu is determined to present to the entire world the historic truth and the Jewish People's deep connection - of thousands of years - to Hebron, " Netanyahu's office said in a statement. Mr. Bennett, leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, also heads Israel's UNESCO Committee.

These are just the latest in a series of resolutions UNESCO has passed against Israel.

Israeli violations against Muslims in occupied Hebron have been a regular occurrence with occupation forces preventing the athan, call to prayer, from being made from the mosque, and closing the mosque altogether to Muslim worshippers to allow Jewish festivals to take place inside. It is only in those places where Israel is, such as Hebron, that freedom of religion for all is ensured, " Netanyahu said.

The soldiers also abducted three Palestinians for "helping the workers in entering Israel without permits".

Late previous year, the organization also passed two resolutions denying Jewish claims to Jerusalem, just as archaeologists uncovered even more evidence of the centuries-old Jewish presence in Jerusalem.

"UNESCO unfortunately succumbed to the manipulations of the Palestinian Authority to politicize holy sites", said Anti Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. Netanyahu said in a statement.

The proposal was submitted to the United Nations body's Cultural Committee by Arab states who originally presented a much harsher version which was formulated together with the Palestinians.

In 1994, an American Jew named Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Palestinians praying at the site, killing 29 before being beaten to death by survivors. In an intractable and long-running battle, Unesco's recognition is, at least, a move in the right direction for Palestinians.


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