On July 7, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a resolution that was passed by a committee that designated Hebron's Old City and the Tomb of the Patriarchs endangered World Heritage sites under the #State Of Palestine. The move has caused Israeli leadership -- as well as the United States -- to accuse the organization of anti-Semitism, by saying that the designation denies them the Jewish connection to the old city and the tomb.

But the fact is that UNESCO asks two questions when making the designation. One is over whether a site is worth being included on a list of World Heritage Sites and what national entity those sites fall under, not religious designation.

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To add, the ruling to make the Old City of Hebron a World Heritage Site also labeled them as being endangered.

Triggering Netanyahu's rage

To the rage of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the State of Palestine became a non-voting member of the United Nations (UN) in 2012. Something the Prime Minister -- on behalf of Israel -- and the U.S. had denied them for years. The State of Palestine had already been admitted by UNESCO in 2011.

One of the arguments made by the Israeli government was that UNESCO referred to the site as being in in #Palestinian Territory. This is because Palestinians are stateless, or rather do not have their own physical state. The State of Palestine is recognized more as a "de jure" state rather than "de facto" under a legitimate government that does not have actual control.

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It is under these conditions that The State of Palestine was also admitted to the United Nations.

Israel and Palestinian fight over territory

The Israeli government rejects UNESCO's designation not only under the fact of state-less Palestinians but also under the self-serving view that the sites are under the control of the Israeli government. One example of this is with Netanyahu's effort to force the Israeli government to see things his way, when he fired many opposed to his view of the Palestinians. But under the mentioned two questions UNESCO asks in making their decision; Israel has never claimed sovereignty over Hebron and so they are not able to make the case that the Tomb of the Patriarchs is in Israel.

The Israeli government has only been able to "declare its sovereignty" in Hebron through the forced expansion of settlements and occupation which the United Nations (also to the anger of Netanyahu) determined as illegal. Such actions by the Israeli government stand outside of UNESCO's requirements.

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Some accounts of the situation in Hebron last year, sheds some light on the controversial actions taken by the Israeli government

Turning designation into religious ownership

Nonetheless, Israeli leaders accused UNESCO of trying to erase the Jewish connection to the Old City and the Tomb of Patriarchs, despite the clear Christianity and Jewish history that has long prevailed there. The submission, however, to recognize the site and put it on an endangered list, came from the Palestinian Authority who attempted to designate Hebron as a Mamluk town (Muslim slave designation).

That effort was rejected by the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) because it "weakened" the town's designation by ignoring the history of early Jewish and Christian societies there as ICOMOS advised the UNESCO parties who voted on the designation. Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, was interviewed by Haaretz in an article titled: "Israeli Envoy: Palestinians Should Fight for Their Rights - Just Not at UNESCO", where he acknowledged the review by ICOMOS. But he said in the interview that the independent organization's acknowledgement of Hebron's Christian and Jewish history was nothing more than lip service.