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Israel, US blast vote on Palestinian heritage sites

June 29, 2012 9:33 P.M. (Updated: July 1, 2012 6:35 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel and the United States blasted the UN cultural agency Friday after it recognized holy sites in Bethlehem by adding them to a world heritage list.

"This is proof that UNESCO is motivated by political and not cultural considerations," Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement following the decision.

"Instead of taking steps to promote peace, the Palestinians are acting unilaterally, which makes peace more distant," Reuters quoted the statement as saying.

Ofir Gendelman, Netanyahu's spokesman for Arabic media, said the world "must remember that the Church of the Nativity which is holy to Christianity was desecrated by Palestinian terrorists" in 2002.

Gendelman wrote on Twitter after the announcement that "Instead of the Palestinians taking steps to further peace, they are acting in a unilateral way that only distances peace."

The US ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, said he was "profoundly disappointed by the decision".
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