UNESCO: Hebron heritage request too focused on Muslim history

The PA has not fully made its case for inscription as a heritage site and Israel’s decision to ban the experts from visiting the site make it difficult to conclude if an emergency situation exists, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) said in an 11-page report.

UNESCO experts warned the Palestinian Authority that it overly focused on Hebron’s Muslim history, at the exclusion of the Judeo-Christian heritage, when it requested that its “Old Town” be inscribed on the “World Heritage in Danger” list.

ICOMOS said the PA would have done better with an expanded timeline and larger geographical area of the city, which could have spoken of its importance to the development of three monotheistic religions starting from 2200 BCE.  “On the basis of the current Mamluk focus of the nomination dossier, ICOMOS considers that insufficient detail has been provided to substantiate the outstanding nature of the survival of town planning and buildings relating to the Mamluk era. “There appears to be the potential for a strong case to be made for considering Hebron as a pilgrimage centre but to support this Tell Rumeida would need to be included and a clearer focus on sites relating to Jewish heritage,” ICOMOS stated.

The group of experts made clear that IDF activity in Hebron’s Old Town was “systemic” and interfered with the conversation of the historic properties there. ICOMOS said. It called for “a political response” and demanded Israel to allow its team of experts to visit the site. ICOMOS has failed thrice so far to endorse the site inscribed as a “World Heritage in Danger”.

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