U.S. Opposes UNESCO Putting Me’aras Hamachpelah on Endangered List

The Garden of Peace, UNESCO headquarters, Paris. (Michel Ravassard)

The United States has come out against a Palestinian proposal at UNESCO to put Me’aras Hamachpelah and the Old City of Chevron on the World Heritage in Danger list.

“The Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is sacred to three faiths, is under no immediate threat. Such a designation risks undermining the seriousness such an assessment by UNESCO should have,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley wrote in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

UNESCO is scheduled to vote on the matter Friday at a meeting in Cracow, Poland.

Haley put the proposal in the perspective of the U.N.’s obsession with Israel almost to the exclusion of all other matters, and asserted that it harms the prospects for peace, as well.

“Many precious sites — from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Libya to Iraq to Syria — are under real and imminent threat of destruction today. They urgently demand UNESCO’s full and immediate attention, which should not be wasted on this sort of symbolic action,” she said.

“As the United States is engaged in trying to increase the chance of a peace deal that is in the best interest of both Israel and the Palestinians, this effort at UNESCO — the motto of which is ‘Building Peace in the Minds of Men and Women’ — is particularly ill-timed and unfortunate,” Haley wrote.

Israel has rejected the claims that the sacred sites in Chevron are in any danger, and explained that its security activities in the area are directed at preventing terrorist violence against visitors, as well as damage to the sites themselves.

Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama HaCohen welcomed Haley’s letter.

“The letter speaks for itself on the absurd pursuit of the state of Israel in every international forum, especially in UNESCO,” Shama HaCohen said.

These words “should be repeated by every nation in the free world, but the majority of them prefer to remain silent and to roll their eyes,” Shama HaCohen said.