June 28, 2017 — New York, New York
AJC is calling on UNESCO World Heritage Committee member states to reject a proposal to register the Old City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs to the “State of Palestine,” and to add them to the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee will meet next week in Krakow, Poland.
“Rewriting history and denying Jewish links to ancient holy sites is not a path to advancing prospects for peace and coexistence, yet the Palestinians are once again fanning the flames of conflict and mistrust,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “The Cave of the Patriarchs, the burial site of Abraham, is sacred, and Israel, to its credit, has strenuously sought to assure its security and accessibility not only to Jews, but also to Muslims.”
The measure that the World Heritage Committee will consider conflicts with Palestinian commitments in the Oslo Accords, as well as the 1997 Hebron Protocol, to respect the agreed-upon arrangements for the joint governance of Hebron and shared worship in the Cave of the Patriarchs.
The proposed action on Hebron follows the World Heritage Committee adoption last October of another shameful resolution, “The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls,” seeking to erase the age-old and incontrovertible Jewish connection to the Old City of Jerusalem.
“It is dismaying that the Palestinian leadership and its allies repeatedly try to politicize UNESCO, whose mission is to advance educational, scientific, and cultural progress and cooperation, and instead use it as a forum to turn history on its head,” said Harris. “Member states of the World Heritage Committee should reject these counter-productive and counter-factual tactics.”
Over the years, the World Heritage Committee has adopted some 50 resolutions providing for the inclusion of properties around the world – mostly in countries ravaged by armed conflicts or afflicted by natural disasters and other adverse conditions – on the “List of World Heritage in Danger.” These resolutions have uniformly employed descriptive, technical language.
Members of the World Heritage Committee are: Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.