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Palestine readying to propose Battir for UNESCO protection

Feb. 1, 2013 9:49 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 14, 2013 12:42 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian experts are putting the final touches on Palestine's 2013 submission to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which will propose the ancient Bethlehem village of Battir as a heritage site.

The proposal, which outlines historical, natural, and cultural features of the hillside village, will be submitted by mid-February, the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs official working on UNESCO, Omar Awadallah, told Ma'an.

The committee will vote on whether Battir takes World Heritage status at the June general conference, he said. A Palestinian official delegation will attend the conference.

Palestine was admitted to the UN cultural agency in 2011, and last June UNESCO designated Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity and the nearby pilgrimage route as a World Heritage site.

Battir village, with a population of about 4,500, uses an ancient system of irrigation that has provided fresh water to the community for centuries.

The proposed route of Israel's separation wall will damage the terraces used for irrigation and cut off villagers from their fields and source of income.

Last year, Israel's Haaretz newspaper said an Israeli state agency had opposed the wall route in Battir, the first time an Israeli government body had challenged the wall.

The Nature and Parks Authority said the wall will also lead to the extinction of wild animals by inhibiting their movement.
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