Palestinians hail UNESCO Hebron vote slammed by Israel

An Israeli settler stands on Palestinian land overlooking the Ibrahimi Mosque and the historic heart of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron (AFP Photo/HAZEM BADER)
The Palestinians hailed a UNESCO decision Friday to add the heart of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron to the endangered world heritage list, but Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu called it "delusional".
"This vote is a success for the diplomatic battle fought by Palestine on all fronts, in the face of Israeli and American pressure on member states," the Palestinian foreign ministry said.
UNESCO\’s heritage committee voted 12 to three — with six abstentions — to give heritage status to the Old City in the centre of Hebron, where a few hundred Jewish settlers live under heavy Israeli military protection in the midst of more than 200,000 Palestinians.
"Despite a frantic Israeli campaign spreading lies and distorting the facts about the Palestinian rights, the world has recognised our right to register Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque under Palestinian sovereignty," the statement added.
The Ibrahimi Mosque, known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, is holy to both faiths and has long been a flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Old Testament figures including Abraham are believed to be buried there.
In 1994, Israeli-American Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslims praying at the site, killing 29, before being beaten to death by survivors.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the vote "another delusional decision by UNESCO."
"This time they ruled the Tomb of the Patriarchs is a Palestinian site, meaning not a Jewish site, and it is in danger."
In May he slammed a UNESCO vote on Jerusalem as "absurd."
The Israeli foreign ministry labelled the Hebron vote a "moral blot" on the United Nations, saying it denied the Jewish history of the city.
"The @UNESCO decision on Hebron & Tomb of Patriarchs is a moral blot. This irrelevant organisation promotes FAKE HISTORY. Shame on @UNESCO," foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted shortly after the vote.
The YESHA council, which represents settlers across the occupied West Bank, called the resolution anti-Semitic.
"Hebron is Judaism\’s second holiest site, denying 4,000 years of Jewish history is pure anti-Semitism," it said in a statement.
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