Following its admission to UNESCO, the Palestinian Authority is planning to
pursue Israel legally in international forums for allegedly stealing Palestinian
antiquities and changing the Arab and Islamic character of holy sites in
Jerusalem, Palestinian officials said over the weekend.
“Now that we have
joined UNESCO, we will take Israel to court for systematically destroying and
forging Arab and Islamic culture in Jerusalem,” said Hatem Abdel Qader, former
PA minister for Jerusalem affairs. “We are also seeking to file lawsuits against
Israel in international courts and bodies for stealing Arab and Islamic
antiquities and assaulting Islamic and Christian holy sites.”
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Palestinians were accepted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization on October 31.
Abdel Qader told the London-based
Al-Quds Al- Arabi
newspaper that Israeli renovations of Jerusalem’s Old City
walls and excavation work in the vicinity of al-Aksa Mosque were part of an
attempt to change the Islamic and Arabic character of the city and steal and
Abdel Qader said the Palestinians were also planning
legal action against Israel for its intention to demolish the Mughrabi Bridge at
the southern entrance to the Temple Mount.
The Jerusalem Municipality
announced recently that it would demolish the bridge due to safety concerns and
in spite of the Islamic Wakf’s objection.
The reasons cited were the
minor earthquake that occurred earlier this year, snowfall and natural erosion
that have made the wooden structure unstable and flammable.
Palestinians are also planning to ask UNESCO to declare several sites in
Jerusalem and the West Bank international heritage sites belonging to Palestine,
PA Minister of Tourism Khuloud Daibes confirmed that the
Palestinians planned to file lawsuits against Israel for alleged theft of
She said the PA was now working toward “restoring” stolen
antiquities that were allegedly transferred to Israel in violation of
international law. The Palestinians are coordinating their moves with the Arab
countries and other countries that voted in favor of the membership bid at
UNESCO, Daibes said.
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