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The United States reviewing ties with UNESCO over al-Khalil decision : US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a Security Council meeting on July 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The United States is reviewing ties with UNESCO over the agency’s decision to declare the Old City of al-Khalil to be Palestinian territory and a world heritage site, says US ambassador to the UN.
On Friday, the UN’s cultural arm voted 12 to three -- with six abstentions -- to give heritage status to al-Khalil, also known as Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, which is home to more than 200,000 Palestinians and a few hundred Israeli settlers.
"Today's vote does no one any good and causes much harm," US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement after the vote.
It was an "affront to history" and "further discredits an already highly questionable UN agency," Haley added.
"The United States is currently evaluating the appropriate level of its continued engagement at UNESCO."
On Thursday, Deputy Mayor of al-Khalil, Yousef al Jabari, said that Tel Aviv was seeking to thwart Palestinian efforts to include the city, which is also home to the Ibrahimi Mosque, on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.
Jabari described the Ibrahimi Mosque as a “pure Muslim” site, saying he will do his best to protect the place as “a mosque for Muslim worshipers only.”
A picture taken on July 7, 2017 shows Palestinians walking by outside the Ibrahimi Mosque. (Photo by AFP)
Palestine’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities previously said al-Khalil urgently needed protection from “assaults that harm the exceptional international value of the place.”
In a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova on June 30, Haley claimed that the mosque “is in no immediate threat.”
Last year, UNESCO adopted a similar resolution, titled Occupied Palestine and sponsored by several Arab countries.
Enraged by such an anti-Israel measure, Tel Aviv has cut ties with UNESCO and reduced its UN budget, putting the 2017 payments at $3.7 million instead of the original $11 million.
US decision to review its ties with UNESCO comes as Washington already has other issues with the United Nations.
In April, the administration of President Donald Trump announced it would withdraw funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which helps millions of women and girls in 155 countries around the world.
The United States has traditionally been the UN’s largest donor, contributing about $611 million this year to the organization’s $2.5 billion regular budget.

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