RAMALLAH (Palestinian Territories) • Palestinians hailed a Unesco decision yesterday to label the heart of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron a protected heritage site, but Israel called the move a "moral blot".
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: "This vote is a success for the diplomatic battle fought by Palestine on all fronts, in the face of Israeli and American pressure on member states."
Unesco's heritage committee voted 12 to three - with six abstentions - to give heritage status to the Old City in the centre of Hebron, where a few hundred Jewish settlers live under heavy Israeli military protection in the midst of more than 200,000 Palestinians.
"Despite a frantic Israeli campaign spreading lies and distorting the facts about Palestinian rights, the world has recognised our right to register Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque under Palestinian sovereignty," the statement added.
The Ibrahimi Mosque, known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, is holy to both faiths and has long been a flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Old Testament figures, including Abraham, are believed to be buried there.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry labelled the vote a "moral blot" on the United Nations, saying it denied the Jewish history of the city.
"The @Unesco decision on Hebron and Tomb of Patriarchs is a moral blot. This irrelevant organisation promotes fake history. Shame on @Unesco," Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted shortly after the vote.