Friday, October 29, 2010
PM slams UNESCO's classifying Rachel's Tomb as a mosque
Government responds sharply to cultural body's request that Israel remove Rachel's Tomb and Cave of the Patriarchs from list of national heritage sites; Netanyahu calls decision "absurd."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday slammed world culture organization UNESCO's decision to characterize the site of Rachel's Tomb as a Muslim mosque.
"The attempt to separate the nation of Israel from its cultural heritage is absurd," said the prime minister. A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office read, "It is unfortunate that an organization that was established with the goal of promoting the cultural preservation of historical sites around the world, is attempting due to political reasons to uproot the connection between the nation of Israel and its cultural heritage."
The PMO's statement came in response to a report publicized by UNESCO that referred to Rachel's Tomb as a mosque and requested that Israel remove Rachel's Tomb -near the West Bank city of Bethlehem - and the Cave of the Patriarchs - in Hebron- from the Israeli list of national heritage sites.
UNESCO's requests comes after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in March, according to Saudi paper Al Wattan, claimed that the al-Aksa Mosque, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb “were not and never will be Jewish sites, but Islamic sites.”
Erdogan was referring to Israel’s inclusion of the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb on its national heritage list at the beginning of the year, but it was unclear why he mentioned the Aksa Mosque, since that site was not included.