US Ambassador to UN Slams Efforts to List Ibrahimi Mosque UNESCO Endangered Site

The Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied Hebron (Al-Khalil). (Photo: MEMO)

United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley expressed late on Monday her opposition to a planned UN Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) vote over whether to include the Old City of Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque on its World Heritage in Danger list.

UNESCO is scheduled to decide on the status of Hebron’s Old City on July 7 or 8 during an ongoing conference in Krakow, Poland. The vote is also expected to include a clause rejecting Israeli sovereignty over occupied East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Haley, who has repeatedly accused the UN of “bullying” Israel by focusing on its violations of international law, insisted in a statement sent to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that the Ibrahimi Mosque – also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs – was not imperiled.

Both Israel and Trump’s administration have regularly criticized the UN for what they deem is the unfair targeting of Israel over its breaches of international law, particularly its illegal settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israeli authorities have meanwhile reportedly been scrambling in recent weeks to collect seven votes needed to block the Hebron motion.

The Ibrahimi Mosque, where the Prophet Abraham is believed to be buried, has been a focal point of such violence for decades, as the site is holy to both Muslims and Jews and has been a prime site for Israeli settler activities in the area.

The holy site was split into a synagogue and a mosque after US-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians inside the mosque in 1994. Since the split, Muslim worshipers have been denied access to the site during Jewish holidays and vice versa in effort to prevent violence from erupting.

Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama Hacohen reportedly said at the time that the UNESCO group was being rejected entry into Israel owing to the fact that the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a body that provides recommendations to UNESCO involving sites that could be considered on the World Heritage in Danger list, had advised against considering previous sites in the occupied Palestinian territory as endangered.

UNESCO, however, had rejected ICOMOS’ recommendations when deciding to include the Church of Nativity and Battir terraces to the World Heritage in Danger list in 2012 and 2014.

In October 2016, UNESCO officially adopted a resolution criticizing Israeli policies around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque – also known as Rachel’s Tomb – in Bethlehem.

(Maan, PC, Social Media)

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