JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the United Nation's claim that Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron are an intrinsic part of Palestinian heritage.
UNESCO, the United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, released a statement claiming that Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs are both "an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories."
The UN statement warned that "any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law, the UNESCO Conventions and the United Nations and Security Council resolutions."
Netanyahu called the premise "absurd."
"The attempt to disconnect the nation of Israel from its heritage is absurd," Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office.
"If the places where the Jewish nation's forefathers and mothers - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel - were buried 4,000 years ago are not part of the Jewish nation's heritage, then what is a heritage site," he asked.
It's unfortunate that "an organization that was created to promote the heritage of historical sites around the world was trying for political reasons to uproot the connection between the nation of Israel and its heritage. This attempt won't succeed," he said.
Despite the threats issued by the United Nations, an estimated 25,000 Israelis spent Shabbat (the Sabbath) in Hebron and Kiryat Arba this past weekend to mark the annual Torah reading called Chayei Sarah (Sarah's life) in Genesis 23:1-25:18.
"After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave that is in it were deeded over to Abraham for a burial site by the sons of Heth." (Gen. 23:19-20)
Click here to read David Wilder's blog on Jewish roots in Hebron.