Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

"Why Are So Many Children Dying in Gaza?"

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Seleka calls for partition

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria: One Hundred Days and Counting (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria: One Hundred Days and Counting

Read more

FOCUS

Can Chancellor Merkel's winning streak last?

Read more

FOCUS

Hunger in a fertile land...

Read more

ENCORE!

High-tech acting king Andy Serkis on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Read more

REPORTERS

Hong Kong in rebellion against the 'motherland'

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Read more

  • Israel faces heightened diplomatic pressure as Gaza bloodshed deepens

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours to kill inmate

    Read more

  • In pictures: Thousands march for Gaza peace in Paris

    Read more

  • Bomb attacks leave scores dead in north Nigeria

    Read more

  • Netherlands holds day of mourning for victims of flight MH17

    Read more

  • Two Ukrainian fighter jets shot down over rebel-held territory

    Read more

  • Ryanair ordered to pay back €9.6m in illegal state aid to France

    Read more

  • Gaza protests: ‘France imported the Mideast conflict a long time ago’

    Read more

  • Video: Fear, death and mourning in Gaza’s Khan Younis

    Read more

  • TransAsia Airways Taiwan crash leaves dozens dead

    Read more

  • Poland’s Rafal Majka wins 17th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Young riders raise French hopes for Tour de France

    Read more

  • Defying UK, France to proceed with warships sale to Russia

    Read more

  • US courts issue conflicting reports on Obamacare

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

Middle east

Israel cuts ties with UNESCO after holy site classified as 'mosque'

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-03

Israel suspended relations with UNESCO Wednesday after the cultural branch of the UN classified the tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel as a mosque. The site is near Bethlehem in the West Bank, and is considered holy by both Jews and Muslims.

AFP - Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO on Wednesday to protest at the cultural organisation's description of the tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel, near Bethlehem in the West Bank, as a mosque.

"Israel has suspended cooperation with UNESCO," Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told parliament, according to a statement from his office.

The move comes after the United Nations cultural organisation on October 21 adopted a series of decisions concerning the Palestinian territories, including one on what it called "Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem," a formula rejected by Israel.

Ayalon said ties with UNESCO would remain frozen until it repealed the decision describing the tomb as a mosque, a definition Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described as "absurd."

"The UNESCO decision was made by the automatic Arab majority and was another attempt to delegitimise Israel instigated by the Palestinian Authority," the statement said.

"Decisions like these push peace further away and harm the reputation of UNESCO, which has become a rubber stamp for the Palestinian Authority," the statement said.

There was no immediate reaction from UNESCO.

The site, where according to tradition the biblical matriarch Rachel is buried, is the third holiest in Judaism, but also considered a holy place for Muslims. According to tradition, women who have difficulty conceiving pray at the tomb for children.

The tomb is in an enclave controlled by the Israeli military on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

Rachel's Tomb, together with the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron, were at the centre of controversy earlier in the year when Israel included them in a national heritage restoration plan.

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova Bokova endorsed a statement by Robert Serry, UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process, that the sites have "historical and religious significance not only to Judaism but also to Islam and to Christianity."

She also "expressed her concern" at the heritage plan and the "resulting escalation of tension in the area."

Israel defended the decision at the time, saying the plan involved only restoration work and promising there would be no attempt to change the delicate status quo at these sites.
 

Date created : 2010-11-03

  • MIDEAST CONFLICT

    Unofficial freeze ends with new settler homes in East Jerusalem

    Read more

  • ISRAEL

    Israel passes controversial loyalty legislation

    Read more

  • MIDEAST CONFLICT

    Israeli Navy intercepts Jewish activist boat

    Read more

COMMENT(S)