Israel has already responded in protest to the resolution with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement over the weekend that it would cut another $1 million from United Nations membership payments to be allocated instead for a museum of Jewish heritage in Hebron.
Israel had petitioned for a secret ballot that would allow certain countries, including an Arab state, to vote against the resolution without paying a political price.
He had promised to vote with Israel on condition that the ballot remained secret.
The purchase of Hebron by Abraham is described in detail in Genesis.
UNESCO evaluates its World Heritage in Danger list three times a year; at its annual World Heritage Committee meeting and at its biannual Executive Board meetings.
There was another moment of intrigue when Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, took the floor after the vote but kept being interrupted by his cell phone. The tomb is located in Hebron, in the southwest corner of the West Bank.
The heritage site in the city, which for Palestinians is often referred to as Khalil, is also thought to include Shuhadah Street, whose heritage Amro has been instrumental in defending.
The ICOMOS report delves in some depth into the city’s origins.
Mr. Amro, founder of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements, is facing trial in an Israeli military court on a number of charges, some of which date back a number of years and have only recently been reactivated.
Ambassador Haley added the decision “undermines the trust that is needed for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to be successful”, and she believes it will harm efforts to renew talks.
Emad Hamdan of the Palestinian Hebron Rehabilitation Committee told the assembly after Friday’s vote, “We think we are shouldering the responsibility and you proved you are there to shoulder the responsibility”.
The funding cut is Israel’s fourth in the past year, taking its United Nations contribution from $11 million to just $1.7 million, an Israeli official said.
Soon after the Unesco announcement, Israel reacted with consternation: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched a scathing attack at the move on his Facebook page.
Israeli troops heavily guard Hebron’s small Jewish community, and control access to holy sites there considered sacred by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Israel has accused UNESCO of making a politically motivated move, part of what it says is an attempt to deny the Jewish character and heritage of certain key sites in the Holy Land. In fact, only the places in which Israel has a presence, like Hebron, there is freedom of religion for everyone.
On Tuesday, the heritage committee of UNESCO passed a resolution submitted by the council’s Arab states rejecting Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. Three voted against the proposal, including The Philippines, Jamaica and Burkina Faso.
Hebron is the only city in the West Bank to have Israeli settlements at its heart, where a few hundred settlers live surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.