Israel has expressed outrage after the United Nations' cultural body UNESCO voted in favor of listing Hebron's Old City in the occupied West Bank as a Palestinian heritage site.
The vote was carried by 12 to three, with six abstentions.
After the poll at the organization's meeting in the Polish city of Krakow, Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen took a call on his cell phone, and informed the committee: “It’s my plumber in my apartment in Paris. There is a huge problem in my toilet and it is much more important than the decision you just adopted” before reportedly storming out of the session.
Shama-Hacohen also accused UNESCO of failing to conduct a truly secret ballot.
The ruling also puts Hebron on the body's ‘in danger’ list, which allows for the allocation of immediate World Heritage Fund assistance
Israel then announced it was pulling its funding from the U.N. body.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it "another delusional decision by UNESCO."
Netanyahu ordered the US$1 million funds to be diverted to build a museum and other projects covering Jewish heritage in Hebron.
In contrast, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the city's new status as a “success for the diplomatic battle fought by Palestine on all fronts, in the face of Israeli and American pressure on member states”.
It also said it was "the only logical and correct decision," and added that "...Hebron’s Old City and holy site is under threat due to the irresponsible, illegal, and highly damaging actions of Israel, the occupying Power, which maintains a regime of separation and discrimination in the city based on ethnic background and religion.”
Both Hebron’s Old City and Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank were placed on the list, despite efforts by Israel and the United States to block the move.
The resolution was filed by the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Tourism, Hebron municipality, and Hebron rehabilitation committee, who all called for greater protection against Israeli violations in the area.
While Palestinian authorities had wanted to place the site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for years and say they were forced to push the action forward due to an increase in routine Israeli violence in the Old City.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee also adopted a resolution on Tuesday affirming their non-recognition of Israel's sovereignty in occupied East Jerusalem as well as condemning Israeli policies there.
Hebron’s Old City, under full Israeli military occupation, is home to some 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers.
The site where Ibrahimi Mosque stands, is of religious significance to Muslims, Jews and Christians.