Israel plans to cut one million dollars from its funding to the United Nations so that it can build a museum in Hebron.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to take that step after UNESCO on Friday inscribed Hebron’s Old Town and the Cave of the Patriarchs to the State of Palestine on the World Heritage in Danger list.
It will also spend the money on additional projects to strengthen Jewish ties to the Biblical city of Hebron and the adjoining settlement of Kiryat Arba.
The UNESCO vote marks the first time that a Jewish religious site is registered to the State of Palestine. The Cave of the Patriarchs is the second holiest site in Judaism.
After the vote, which took place in Krakow, Poland, Netanyahu stated: ”This is another delusional UNESCO decision."
“This time, they decided that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is a Palestinian site, meaning that it is not Jewish, and that the site is in danger,” the premier continued.
“Not a Jewish site?! Who is buried there? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah – our patriarchs and matriarchs! And the site is in danger? It is only in those places where Israel is, such as Hebron, that freedom of religion for all is ensured,” he charged.
“In the Middle East, mosques, churches and synagogues in every other place are being bombed – in places that are not Israel. We will continue to protect the Cave of the Patriarchs, freedom of religion for all and the truth,” Netanyahu concluded.
The site is already on Israel’s list of national heritage sites, but the Jewish communities in Hebron have long struggled with the Israeli government for more resources, including for funds to build a roof to cover the main Jewish sanctuary.
There is only a plastic covering over the synagogue, and it often leaks in the rainy months.
In December, Israel also cut $6 million from its annual contribution to the UN to protest the United Nations Security Council resolution against settlement activity. In addition, in the past year it also cut another $1 million to protest a past UNESCO resolution against Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. This was after a $2 million cut for steps taken by the UN Human Rights Council against Israel.