On July 7, 2017 UNESCO declared in a secret ballot the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank a protected heritage site. (AFP Photo)
CAIRO, July 8 (Xinhua) -- The Arab League (AL) on Saturday hailed a decision by the United Nations to register the Old City of Hebron as a World Heritage site under the State of Palestine.
The decision, made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), recognizes Hebron's Old City, including the site known as the Al-Ibrhimi Mosque by the Palestinians and the Tomb of Patriarchs by the Jews, as a Palestinian site and in need of protection.
AL Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit saluted the Arab group for its efforts to win the vote by the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, Gheit's spokesman Mahmoud Afify was quoted by Egypt's official news agency MENA as saying.
Gheit also credited the Palestinian leadership and its diplomacy with the success, Afify said.
Meanwhile, Meshaal al Salmi, head of the Arab Parliament, on Saturday also praised the UNESCO decision on Hebron, calling it reflects international support to the Palestinians' right in their territories and sanctuaries.
The decision refuted the Israeli allegations claiming that the city is Jewish, he was quoted by the MENA as saying.
Hebron's Old City is the fourth site registered under the State of Palestine since the UNESCO recognized it as a member state in 2011.
Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad Malki said in a statement Friday that it serves to refute Israeli lies about the history of Hebron city, calling it a "diplomatic victory."
But the UNESCO decision drew angry reaction from Israel, as Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon dismissed in a Friday tweet the move as "a moral blot," while accusing UNESCO of promoting "fake history."
Hebron, thought to be 6,000 years old, is considered by Muslims to be the fourth holiest site for nearly 1,000 years. It is home to some 200,000 Palestinians and a few hundred Jewish settlers who live there in a heavily guarded enclave.
Israel seized Hebron, together with the rest of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, during the 1967 Middle East War, and has controlled these territories ever since despite international criticism.