US reviews ties with UNESCO over cultural body's recognition of Hebron as Palestinian territory

United States: The United States said on Friday it was reviewing ties with UNESCO after the UN cultural agency declared the Old City of Hebron to be Palestinian territory and a world heritage site.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the UNESCO decision was an "affront to history" and "further discredits an already highly questionable UN agency."

"Today's vote does no one any good and causes much harm," said Haley in a statement. The United States stopped funding the UN agency in 2011 after it admitted the Palestinians as a member-state, but it remains a member of UNESCO's 58-member executive board.

The UNESCO logo. AFP

The UNESCO logo. AFP

Haley said however that following the vote, "the United States is currently evaluating the appropriate level of its continued engagement at UNESCO."

Hebron, which is holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians, is the largest city in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank. It is home to more than 2,00,000 Palestinians and a few hundred Israeli settlers.

A committee of the UN's cultural arm voted 12 to three — with six abstentions — to give heritage status to Hebron's Old City.

The area includes the site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the vote as "another delusional decision" but the Palestinian foreign ministry said UNESCO had recognized the right to register "Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque under Palestinian sovereignty."

Updated Date: Jul 08, 2017 09:10 AM

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