Former Israeli Foreign minister Tzipi Livni criticized UNESCO for passing resolutions against Israel, on the eve of the 41st annual UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s conference in Poland.
Speaking at the UNESCO International Conference on the Empowerment of Women in Paris on Friday, Livni, a member of the opposition Zionist Union party, called on the organisation to reject an upcoming vote regarding the West Bank city of Hebron.
The 41st annual World Heritage Committee’s conference opened on Sunday, bringing together 21 member states, more than 170 observer nations and many non-governmental organizations.
The Palestinian Authority is lobbying for a new resolution to declare Hebron a “World Heritage Site in Danger” at the conference. Hebron is a city holy to Jews and Muslims because it contains the ‘Cave of the Patriarchs’ the ancient burial site of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs – Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah.
The Palestinian Authority resolution is likely to generate significant support from Arab States and is expected to pass, but Israel hopes it can generate support from European and Western countries to abstain or oppose the motion.
Livni warned that the Hebron Resolution “will not harm my people’s connection to [Jerusalem and Hebron], but they will hurt UNESCO and the ability to promote common interests,” and said that the organisation “must not be turned into a political arena” by “member states that exploit UNESCO for political purposes and to open conflicts.”
UNESCO was criticized by Israel and other states in May after the 58-member UNESCO Executive Board approved a resolution at a meeting in Paris which noted that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem “are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam” but called them “Palestinian sites”.
Two 2016 UNESCO resolutions on Jerusalem were criticized in Israel and the Jewish community for omitting any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.
[Photo: BICOM ]