December 3, 2011
An Israeli official says the admission of Palestinians as a member state of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has emboldened them to claim Judeo-Christian biblical sites as their own, CBN News reports. One such site is the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, which the Bible says Abraham bought to bury his wife Sarah: Palestinians want UNESCO to recognize the cave and other sites as Muslim holy places. "Their demand is a political demand to wipe off all the traces of the Jewish history and Jewish connection to the region," Israeli government minister Yuli Edelstein said. The cave is currently divided between a synagogue and a mosque, but Haj Zeid al Ja'bari, the head of the Islamic authorities in Hebron, said the site was only holy to Muslims and that "there is no right for non-Muslims to be here or to pray here. ... I'm against the presence of the Jews, even in the old city." David Bedein, bureau chief of the Israel Resource News Agency, said: "The concept of a Jewish holy place is exactly the opposite. When there's a Jewish holy place, everyone can visit." The Palestinian Authority also wants the Church of the Navitity in Bethlehem to be deemed a Palestinian site, and Israelis say Jews and Christians alike should be concerned.