The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee on June 30 added the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem to its list of sites in danger, citing water damage and the need for immediate repair.
The Church of the Nativity is under the auspices of the PA, and the decision to recognize it as a “World Heritage Site” was interpreted by Palestinians as a confirmation of their right to the land.
Hanan Ashrawi, a leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, issued a statement calling the decision “a welcome recognition by the international community of our historical and cultural rights in this land.” PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the ruling “increases our determination to establish a independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
Israeli officials reacted angrily to the decision, with the Prime Minister’s Office saying, “The world needs to remember that the Church of the Nativity, which is sacred to Christianity, has been desecrated in the past by Palestinian terrorists.”
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