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UN committee votes to list ancient Jericho as a World Heritage Site in Palestine

9 months ago 46

A United Nations panel decided on Sunday to designate the historic West Bank city of Jericho as a World Heritage Site in Palestine, a move that is certain to enrage Israel, which dominates the land and refuses to recognise a Palestinian state.

Jericho is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and managed by the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority.

The decision was made during a meeting of the United Nations World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, under the aegis of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO.

Israel left UNESCO in 2019, accusing it of prejudice and undermining its ties to the Holy Land. In 2011, Israel also protested UNESCO’s recognition of Palestine as a member state. However, Israel remains a signatory to the World Heritage Convention and sent a delegation to the Riyadh summit.

During the 1967 Mideast war, Israel took the West Bank, as well as Gaza and east Jerusalem. Palestinians desire all three areas for a future state. The West Bank is seen by Israel as the biblical and cultural core of the Jewish people.

There have been no serious or substantive peace negotiations in over a decade, and Israel is currently led by the most nationalist and religious government in its history, making any move toward Palestinian statehood nearly unimaginable.

The modern city of Jericho is a major draw for tourism to the Palestinian territories, both because of its historical sites and proximity to the Dead Sea. In 2021, the Palestinian Authority unveiled major renovations to one of the largest mosaics in the Middle East, in a Jericho palace dating back to the 8th century.

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