The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem became the first World Heritage Site of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to be listed under the name “Palestine.”. The church is honoured by Christians around the world as the site traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Christ.
Unesco announced the additions, after the World Heritage Committee meeting in St Petersburg, Russia, voted 13-to-6 in favour.
“This gives hope and confidence to our people in the inevitable victory of our just cause,” said PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in a statement following the decision. “It increases their determination to continue efforts at deepening readiness for the establishment of an independent state of Palestine, with its capital in east Jerusalem, within the 1967 borders.”
A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office blasted the decision, accusing UNESCO of acting out of political rather than cultural considerations.
The nomination of the Church of the Nativity was Palestine’s first since being accepted as UNESCO agreed to accept Palestine as its 195th member state last October, even though it is not a member state of the UN. The PA now has state rights in all UNESCO-related bodies, such as the World Heritage Center.