The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted recently to officially declare Kever Rochel to be a mosque. UNESCO director Irena Bokova had previously stated “concern” at Israel’s decision to treat Kever Rochel as a heritage site.
The vote called for Kever Rochel and the Meoras Hamachpeilah to be removed from Israel’s National Heritage list.
The Palestinian Authority has claimed that Kever Rochel is holy to Muslims as the site of a mosque called the Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque. The PA demands control over both Kever Rochel and the Meoras Hamachpeilah in Chevron, as well as the Har Habayis in Yerushalayim.
UNESCO appeared to support the PA demand for the Har Habayis as well, asking that Muslim officials be allowed to examine the Mughrabi Gate near the Kosel. Muslim leaders have accused Israel of attempting to damage the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Har Habyis under the guise of repairs to the Mugrabi Gate. Israeli officials have warned that if the gate is not repaired, it could collapse, putting people at the Kosel at risk.
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, rov of the Kosel, termed the decision “outrageous.”
“They have never said in the past that this was a Muslim holy site. The [UN] organization responsible for heritage has turned heritage into politics.” Israel should think carefully about whether or not to cooperate with UNESCO in the future, he said.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry denounced the UNESCO ruling.
Read more at Arutz Shevah.