~Israel Clashes with UNESCO in Row over Holy Sites!

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    Israel on Wednesday said it would reduce cooperation with the United Nations’ cultural watch after the body classified Bilal Mosque or Masjid Al-Ibrahimi (called by Jews as Rachel’s Tomb) in the West Bank as a mosque.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Israel would not cooperate with UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – in administering five protected sites in Palestinian territory as a dispute that has escalated in recent weeks came to a head.

    The ancient Mosque, which lies between Jerusalem and the nearby Palestinian city of Bethlehem, is traditionally regarded as the burial place of a biblical matriarch and is holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews.

    Ayalon’s spokeswoman said that Israel would cut off relations with UNESCO altogether – but shortly after said that the announcement had been made in error and retracted the statement.

    Israel’s boycott follows an angry statement last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemning UNESCO’s ruling on the ‘tomb’.

    UNESCO’s board voted 44 to one, with 12 abstentions, to reaffirm that the site was “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law”.


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