First Published: 2010-02-26

 
UNESCO chief concerned over West Bank holy sites
 

Bokova expresses 'concern' at Netanyahu's announcement, resulting escalation of tension.

 

Middle East Online

'Cultural heritage should serve as a means for dialogue'

PARIS - The head of the United Nations cultural body UNESCO expressed concern Friday at the escalating tension caused by Israel's apparent move to strengthen its control on two Palestinian West Bank historical sites.

Hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu triggered another row this week when he said he hoped to include Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the Palestinian city of Hebron in an Israeli national heritage restoration plan.

The two sites are in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank and are revered by both Jews and Muslims, and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where Prophet Abraham is said to have been buried, has been a flashpoint for decades.

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova "expressed her concern" at Netanyahu's announcement and "at the resulting escalation of tension in the area".

Bokova endorsed a statement by Robert Serry, UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process

"The director general reiterated UNESCO's long-standing conviction that cultural heritage should serve as a means for dialogue," her statement said.

Palestinian anger over Netanyahu's apparent attempt to reinforce Israeli claims on the Palestinian sites has triggered four days of clashes between stone-throwing protesters and Israeli forces.

The United States has also criticised the announcement as "provocative", as have some of Netanyahu's critics inside Israel.

 

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali