Israel is working to block a bid by the Palestinian Authority to register the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem under the country of Palestine, when the World Heritage Committee meets in Russia from June 24 to July 6.
Earlier this month the committee announced that the church, as well as the nearby pilgrimage route, is among 36 sites which it plans to debate during that meeting. The debate marks the first time that the committee has considered registering a World Heritage site under Palestine.
The PA can request such registration because in October the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, recognized Palestine as its 195th member state.
The UN has not recognized Palestine as a state. But as a result of the October vote, Palestine has full state rights in all UNESCO bodies, including the right to register sites on the World Heritage List.
As soon as its signature with the UNESCO’s Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage was ratified in March, the PA asked the World Heritage Committee to register the church and the pilgrimage route in Bethlehem under Palestine. It made it onto the list under an emergency provision for endangered sites.
Earlier this month, UNESCO announced the inclusion of the Church of the Nativity on its list of 36 potential sites. It noted that this was a first for Palestine.
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