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UNESCO's Hebron resolution hurts Israeli-Palestinian peace process

UNESCO resolutions recognizing the Palestinians' connections to Jerusalem and Hebron holy sites only empower the Israeli right in its refusal to negotiate.
An Israeli soldier walks past Ibrahimi Mosque, which Jews call the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the West Bank city of Hebron July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad - RTX3AJ9Z
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The July 7 resolution by the UNESCO Heritage Committee recognizing the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron as an endangered world heritage site was just what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needed. After everyone saw him strolling barefoot along the Mediterranean coast with his new pal, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Netanyahu was granted an opportunity to remind the people of Israel that the entire world is still against us. A display of friendship on the part of a world power like India could cast doubt on this perspective, anchored as it is in the biblical phrase by the Prophet Balaam about the Israelites: “A people that shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.” In any case, after Modi’s gooey visit to the Holy Land, the Israeli public needs its regular fix of fear, xenophobia and muscle flexing.

US envoy Jason Greenblatt is once again shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah in an attempt to restart stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and freeze Israel’s settlements in the West Bank. How can one rely on the Americans to defend Israel when they are unable to convince a handful of countries to vote against what Netanyahu called “yet another delusional decision by UNESCO”? The UNESCO Heritage Committee decision, adopted by 12 member states with three opposing and six abstaining, concerns the perfect place at the perfect time for Netanyahu. For Jews of all religious shades, their affinity to the West Bank city of Hebron and the Machpelah Cave where their patriarchs are said to be buried are central to their state, religion and nationhood.

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