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Left, map of the Palestinian Authority voting regions (via Wikipedia), and right, a view of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem that Palestinians want to add to UNESCO’s World Heritage List (via flickr.com/the-lees/61662869)

On Monday, Palestinians were finally admitted to the cultural body of the United Nations, UNESCO, as a full member. The move, which ignited the ire of the United States and Israel, allows the Palestinian government to apply for historic monuments and locations to be classified as World Heritage Sites.

The Palestinians have released their list, which includes 20 sites, including most singificantly the West Bank town of Bethlehem and its Church of the Nativity.

According to The Daily Star newspaper of Beirut:

The bid to have Bethlehem and the Nativity Church recognized by the UN cultural organization was backed by the Greek Orthodox Church as well as the Catholics and Armenians, who are custodians of the shrine. UNESCO’s committee on World Heritage sites will meet over the nominations in July 2012.

This Week in Palestine writes that even if Bethlehem is added to the list of World Heritage List that’s not the end of the story:

The rapid growth of the city, encroaching inwards towards the historic centre — mainly due to the Apartheid Wall and the lack of land — is a major threat that presents a real challenge to the inscription of Bethlehem on the WHL. A thorough analytical study is necessary in order to propose solutions to enhance the quality of the construction in the historic centre and its environs, guaranteeing a level of safeguarding that enhances the living standards, meets the needs of the residents, and helps maintain the characteristics of the historic town.

Also on the Palestinian list is Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank, Hebron, which is home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a place revered by both Jews and Muslims and reputedly where ancient Judish patriarch, Abraham, is buried.

Other sites include the archeological site of Tel al-Sultan and Hisham’s Palace, both in Jericho. The latter is home to the biggest mosaic in the Middle East.

AFP has a video of the news here.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

3 replies on “Admitted to UNESCO Palestinians Reveal World Heritage Wish List”

  1. Fantastic!  It’s about time that the Palestinians start to get the respect due to all people.  Let us all hope that they continue to take their rightful place on the world stage and that their oppressors pay for their crimes. 

  2. The World Heritage designation process is very complicated and will take time, especially if safe access is denied to those belonging to other groups which have a claim on them. Contested sites are a hot topic among those who oversee heritage sites, and this will be neither a quick nor an easy effort. By the way, there is no such thing as an “Apartheid Wall.” The wall wouldn’t be there if it did not cut way down on attacks on Israeli citizens. But at least you’re not pretending to be unbiased in your writing.

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