The Palestinian Authority is asking the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO to meet in two weeks to recognize the Old City of Hevron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian Heritage Sites.
There are currently 1,052 World Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO, of which 9 are Israeli and 2 are in areas currently administered by the Palestinian Authority.
The process of registration and declaration of each site usually takes several years. The PA wants to take advantage once again of an exceptional clause in the regulations to register the site in a rapid emergency procedure, with provocative and false claims against Israel, presenting the site as being in danger of destruction.
The Heritage Committee has 21 member states that are particularly hostile toward Israel. The previous two times the Palestinians tried to obtain recognition of heritage sites, the committee's response was negative, but it is not inconceivable that this time the result will be different.
Alongside the new Hevron front, a draft resolution on Jerusalem and the holy sites is expected to be voted on as every year, in an attempt to re-sever ties and deny Israel sovereignty.
The Israeli delegation to the international organizations, headed by Ambassador Carmel Shama Hacohen, has already begun its countermoves about a month ago, to which Israel's ambassadors to the member states of the organization have recently joined.
The request to recognize part of the Old City as a Palestinian site speaks specifically of the part of Hevron that is under Israeli control.
In the final vote on Jerusalem in the Heritage Committee last year, 10 countries voted against Israel, two voted for it, eight abstained, and one was absent. The debate was stormy and long, after Israel managed a last-minute surprise and broke the consensus on which the PA had been working for a long time.
In order to prevent the registration and declaration of Hevron, Israel must recruit at least one third of the voting countries. In light of past results and in light of the problematic composition, this is a complex diplomatic mission.
Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, told Arutz Sheva that "this is a new front in the war over the holy places that the Palestinians are trying to ignite as part of their incitement propaganda against Israel and the history of the Jewish people.
"Israel respects the feelings of Muslims and does not try to create similar provocations, but is acting out of consideration and responsibility and full cooperation with the people of other religions regarding all the holy sites in the Land of Israel in order to ensure freedom of worship, order, and security, routine maintenance and the development of supporting infrastructures," added Shama Hacohen.
He found that "only in the past two months has Israel responded to a number of requests by the PA regarding Muslim freedom of worship in Hevron and they are ungrateful to us in their attack and the negation of the historical connection and our right to this holy place from the days of Abraham who bought the rights in full.
"Not only is the essence outrageous but also the way the PA allow themselves to apply for registration in a very rapid and exceptional emergency procedure that is reserved for heritage sites under the threat of destruction and extinction - and to this end they are slandering the Jewish and Israeli sides with blood libels that never existed.
"Countries from all over the world prepare registration applications for years that undergo a process of strict and long-term screening and control, while the Palestinians have a shortcut that is paved with lies and incitement. The conduct of the Palestinians is astonishing and surprising at a time when President Trump is making every effort to renew a peace process in the region," concluded Shama Hacohen.