Rachel's Tomb
Photo: Eli Mandlebaum

UN: Heritage sites on occupied land

UN special coordinator for Mideast peace process condemns cabinet decision to declare West Bank Jewish sites national heritage sites. Robert Serry says 'sites are in occupied Palestinian territory, are of historical significance to Islam, Christianity as well'

Netanyahu has caved to pressure from the Right, and has also enraged the international community. United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry issues a special statement on Monday in which he expressed "concern" over the Israeli government's decision to declare the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem national heritage sites.


Serry said that these sites are located in occupied territories and in places that are not only holy to Jews.


The statement read: "I am concerned at the announcement of the Israeli government regarding holy sites in Hebron and Bethlehem and the heightened tensions that have resulted.


"These sites are in occupied Palestinian territory and are of historical and religious significance not only to Judaism but also to Islam, and to Christianity as well."


On Sunday, the cabinet approved a comprehensive plan for the preservation of "heritage" sites across the country, at an investment of some NIS 400 million (roughly $106 million).


At the last minute, following pressure from ministers and rightists, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to ad the two West Bank locations to the preservation plan.


The UN envoy urged Israel not to take any steps that would undermine confidence and harm negotiations, "the resumption of which should be the highest shared priority of all who seek peace."


He also called for restraint and cal, after Palestinians in Hebron declared a general strike on Monday in protest of the decision, and held a demonstration in which stones were thrown at security forces.


Serry noted that he had visited Hebron last week and would like to "see more positive steps by Israel to enable Palestinian development and state-building in the area and throughout the West Bank, reflecting a genuine commitment to the two State solution."


פרסום ראשון: 02.22.10, 14:45
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