Israel to cut ties with UNESCO

Nov. 4, 2010 at 8:05 AM
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JERUSALEM, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Israel said it will stop cooperating with UNESCO after it designated Rachel's Tomb, a Jewish holy site outside of Bethlehem as a Muslim mosque, officials said.

Danny Ayalon, deputy minister of foreign affairs accused the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization of siding with the Palestinian Authority in an effort to de-legitimize Israel, said Thursday.

"We should see the organization's call to remove the Cave of Patriarchs (in Hebron) and Rachel's Tomb (in Bethlehem) from the list of Israel's national sites as a part of Palestinian escalation in international organizations," he told the Knesset Wednesday.

"Israel rejects all five of UNESCO's decisions and has no intention of cooperating with the organization," Ayalon said. "This is another attempt at de-legitimization by the Palestinian Authority. Decisions like this take us farther away from peace and understanding between our two nations," the Web site quoted him saying.

A statement released by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's bureau said "it is unfortunate that an organization established in order to promote historic heritage sites around the world is trying, for political reasons to uproot the connection between Israel and its heritage."

Rachel's Tomb is believed to be the burial place of the biblical matriarch Rachel. The tomb is considered the third holiest site in Judaism.

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