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Palestinians to push heritage agenda at UNESCO
Published Monday 10/10/2011 (updated) 13/10/2011 23:45
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A Palestinian scout marching band plays at Manger Square in front of the
Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem September 18,
2011, as Palestinians begin to celebrate ahead of their bid for statehood
at the United Nations on Friday. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -- The Palestinians will seek World Heritage status for the birthplace of Jesus once the UN cultural agency admits them as a full member, and will then nominate other sites on Israeli-occupied land for the same standing, an official said.

Hamdan Taha, a Palestinian Authority minister who deals with antiquities and culture, said UNESCO membership was the Palestinians' natural right. He described as "regrettable" the objections of some governments including the United States.

UNESCO's board decided last week to let member states vote on a Palestinian application for full membership, seen as part of a Palestinian drive opposed by Israel and the United States for recognition as a state in the UN system.

"UNESCO membership carries a message of justice and rights. Why must the Palestinians be left outside the international system?" Taha said. "I see it as crowning long efforts over the past 20 years."

He said that after gaining full UNESCO membership, the Palestinians will revive their bid to secure World Heritage status for Bethlehem and its Church of the Nativity, revered as the birthplace of Jesus. The nomination was rejected this year because the Palestinians were not a full UNESCO member.

"This is a simple example of how Palestine has not been able to preserve its cultural heritage through the tools granted to every state in the world," Taha said.

"We will call on the World Heritage Committee to activate this application," said Taha. "We expect that after Bethlehem, other sites will follow."

These are likely to include Hebron, an ancient city home to a shrine holy to Jews and Muslims, which is one of the most volatile spots in the West Bank.

The vote on Palestinian membership is expected at UNESCO's General Conference, which runs from October 25 to November 10. The Palestinians have had observer status at UNESCO since 1974.

The United States opposes the move, seeing it as part of a unilateral Palestinian bid to bypass the two-decade-old peace process. Washington says negotiations with Israel are the only way for the Palestinians to achieve their goal of statehood in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

UNESCO is the first UN agency to which the Palestinians have applied for full membership since President Mahmoud Abbas submitted their request to become a member state of the United Nations on Sept. 23, also in the face of stiff US opposition.

Israel's ambassador to UNESCO has condemned the move, saying politicizing UNESCO will undermine its ability to carry out its mandate.

Hebron among future candidates

But Taha described the Palestinians' motives as "purely cultural".

"This will allow Palestine to actively participate in protecting cultural heritage in the Palestinian territories," he said.

The territories where the Palestinians aim to found their state are home to a plethora of ancient sites, many of biblical significance, as well as sites of natural importance such as the Dead Sea.

Aside from Bethlehem, the Palestinian Authority has listed ancient pilgrimage routes and the West Bank towns of Nablus and Hebron among 20 cultural and natural heritage sites which Taha said could also be nominated as World Heritage Sites.

"We don't see UNESCO as a theater for confrontation but one that could build bridges," he said, adding that he had heard no Israeli objections to the bid to secure World Heritage status for Bethlehem.

Yet issues of heritage can be as incendiary as any in the Middle East. Last year, violence erupted in Hebron following an Israeli decision to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs, also known as the Ibrahimi Mosque, in an Israeli state plan to rehabilitate Jewish and Zionist heritage sites.

"In the last year, there have been efforts to prepare a file for the nomination of the old city of Hebron, undertaken by the municipality of Hebron," Taha said.

"We think that every old city has the right to prepare a nomination file and we call on all sites and cities to take part in preparing files," he said.

"If we get over the obstacle of membership, of course these sites are candidates for the preparation of nomination files to be prepared for presentation to the World Heritage Committee."
1 ) Salma / Palestine
10/10/2011 12:36
If there's a dream where all Palestinians and REAL human beings share it will be the dream of seeing Palestine alive again.

2 ) Palestinain / Amman
10/10/2011 12:42
Long Live Palestine.

3 ) Teacher / Ramallah
10/10/2011 12:45
so nice i must thx u so much 4 this news. Our Palestinian heritage its very important to us as Palestinians. We teach students from every generation so they can apply it to their hand crafts. This helps root our Palestinian heritage within our minds.

4 ) My Palestinian Heritage / Jericho اريحا
10/10/2011 12:46
Jericho is one of the world's most ancient cities. It is also called the city of Palm Trees, and is located in the West Bank. It traces its first inhabitants as far back as 9000 BC. Archaeological evidence indicates that the city was destroyed and abandoned several times (sometimes remaining uninhabited for hundreds of years at a time). The Arabic name "Ariha" is derived from its Canaanite name of... "Yareah", which means "moon".

5 ) Rose / Beit Jala
10/10/2011 12:47
Jericho is the irrefutable proof of the Palestinian heritage.

6 ) Ali / Gaza
10/10/2011 12:48
wow. dont forget Gaza please.

7 ) Dany / Beitlehem
10/10/2011 12:50
Palestine the most beautiful place ever

8 ) Palestinain mother / Palestine
10/10/2011 12:57
what about Palestinian heritage cook ? we have the top delicious foods in the world, Maklooba, Kusa Mahshi, Kebbe, Hummus, Musakhan, shorbet adas, malfooof, falafel, mlokeyaa, majdra and so on .

9 ) Salma / Palestine
10/10/2011 14:05
#8 ) Hmmm …. delicious comment indeed : ) yesssssssss Mama, You're Right .

10 ) Palestinain / Amman
10/10/2011 14:44
I can't wait to get there next year to see Palestine for myself and to taste the food mmmmm.

11 ) never forget our history / Palestine
10/10/2011 14:46
One of the first revolts against occupation in Palestine was as early as 1834. In 1831 Mehemet Ali (An Albanian) of Egypt intervened in Palestine. Under his son Ibrahim Pasha, Egyptian troops captured Acre and started a repressive policy of conscription and taxation. Palestinians ("Rebels") did not take nicely to this, and they organized a revolt against the Egyptians. the revolt was just the beginning of the formation of our Palestinian national identity today.

12 ) Goerge / Ramallah
10/10/2011 14:53
#8 ) thx mom , I LOVE ALL PALESTINIAN CUISINE . my favorite is warak dawali :D

13 ) Raed Dajani / Nablus
10/10/2011 14:55
@ Mother, why did you forget knaffeh ? it is is actually originally Palestinian , The city of Nablus is especially renowned for kanafeh !

14 ) My Palestinian Heritage / Palestine
10/10/2011 14:58
Did you know that Roman Catholicism has existed in Palestine for almost a 1000 years?! It was first introduced during the Crusades by Godfrey of Bouillon, who established a Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem. Isn't it amazing that the first Crusader war alone brought a religious sect that still exists and prospers in Palestine to this day and age and is an integral part of Palestinian heritage?

15 ) Mel / USA
10/10/2011 14:59
#6:Ali! Exactly! Don't forget the ancient Arabian region of Gaza,part of the trade route from Africa-Jerusalem-Damascus. I'm American &Christian&Palestine means so much to me 2.It's the Holy Land of many prophets,millenia of history,culture,science,poetry,music,spiritualism,incredible cuisine,ancient architecture,ancient cities(pre-montheism)ancient trade,global peoples crossing,great literary works by Muslims,Christians & Jews alike.Wow! If any place is a holistic heritage site,it's FILASTIN!

16 ) Dany / Beitlehem
10/10/2011 15:03
Did you know that it is said that Palestinians are genetically descendants of the various past inhabitants of the land of Palestine? And that includes Canaanites, Philistines, Hebrews, Egyptians, Persians, Assyrians, Crusaders, Babylonians, Greeks, Arabs, and other Arameans. Many of these people intermixed and intermarried, therefore, creating the Palestinian nation we know today.

17 ) Natalie / Ramallah
10/10/2011 15:07
"I have no fear that the candle lighted in Palestine years ago will ever be put out." Dean Inge

18 ) izzy / usa
10/10/2011 16:20

19 ) MATT / USA
10/10/2011 16:23
Rose----are you serious???jericho??? in the book of joshua, the city is mentioned many times. it is jewish without a doubt.
Besides we know that when arabs control jewish areas, jews are not allowed. Such as, the westeren wall, before 1967, or even the al aqsa mosque now. However when jews controll areas like this non jews are given access almost all the time.

20 ) Henri / France
10/10/2011 16:54
When referring to "Palestinians" in the newspapers of the first half of the 20th century, that meant "Jewish Zionist settlers" who immigrated to develop the Land . It didn't meant the Arab population nor the Jewish religious people that where living for centuries in several cities like Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias or Hebron. @13 The word "Knaffeh" sound like the French word "canap?" which means a pastry base with a topping that may be sweet or salted, and could originate in the Crusade's era.

21 ) Arnold / Canada
10/10/2011 17:11
The Hebron massacre refers to the killing of sixty-seven Jews on 23 and 24 August 1929 in Hebron, then part of the British Mandate of Palestine. It was this massacre that led to the establishment of the Irgun and Hagganah.

22 ) myrtil / israel
10/10/2011 17:24
If I know it right, Jesus, a jew was born in Beth Lechem, an obviously jewish place, grow up in Nazereth, next to Zipporis, obvioulsy jewish places. One of our mothers is laid to rest at a jewish place, known as Rahel's tomb. So whatever you are goin g to claim as "palestian heritage" check carefully, if there is someone else who has older and better prooved rights to do so! and never forget the actual palestinian culture and history started in 1984!

23 ) Carlos / USA
10/10/2011 18:25
The city of Jericho was massacred by Israelis according to the bible. Jericho was founded by Canaanites who are not Israeli. Since founders, Canaanites, were massacred & Palestinians are descended from Canaanites. Jericho was founded by Palestinians. Even after the massacre of Jericho by Israelis, the city has been continuously inhabited by Palestinians since the Romans kicked the Israelis out. Israel has no claim to the city at all.

24 ) Carlos / USA
10/10/2011 18:29
Jews were allowed at western wall under Jordananian rule. Israelis were not allowed. It did not matter if you were an Arab Israeli or Jewish Israeli. Jewish Jordanians or Syrians or Egyptians or US or France or Germany could go there any time they wanted. Israel threatening nature was what kept Israelis out of Western Wall in West Bank.

25 ) firas / palestine
10/10/2011 18:38
great comments from palestinian people))))))))))))))))))))

26 ) southparkbear / usa
10/10/2011 19:43
heritage? that's a strech, unless it is compared to roma's heritage

27 ) Tibi / Tubas
10/10/2011 21:17
The Palestinians ONLY INTEREST in "World Heritage status for the birthplace of Jesus, once the UN cultural agency admits them as a full member", is TO SAY THE site is on "Israeli-occupied land" !!!

28 ) @ Salma #1 / Palestine the Dream
10/10/2011 21:32
Which "dream of seeing Palestine alive again" is it, that you long for ?? [1] The 1964 PLO Charter dream, that renounced all claims to Jordanian occupied West Bank & Egyptian occupied Gaza [2] The British Mandate of occupied Palestine dream, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, [3] The centuries-old Ottoman Empire occupied Palestine dream, or [4] The ONLY SOVEREIGN DOMESTIC GOVERNMENT OF THIS LAND -- BIBLICAL ISRAEL, -- THE JEWISH HOMELAND ?????

29 ) Heritage / UNESCO
10/10/2011 21:37
There is no other explanation for American and Israeli positions vis a vis UN Bid and UNESCO application other than discrimination. It's absurd that the US pretends to be the world leader for democracy and human rights protector while practicing discrimination. We've seen how abusive Americans are in Iraq and Guantanamo.

30 ) @ #14 / USA
10/10/2011 21:46
Do you know what also existed in the Land "Palestine"/Israel, for more than a 1000 years ?? - The lineage of King David (Soloman & a couple dozen Jewish Kings) !! "Was it also Godfrey of Bouillon, who established a Latin Patriarchate" that murdered the Jews in Jerusalem, forced Jews into a Synangogue and set fire to it", or was that a different Crusader army ???

31 ) myrtil / israel
10/10/2011 22:10
Western wall in 1967? When our soldiers arrived at the Western Wall they could not believe they really where there. The space in front of the wall was full with small, tiny jordanian houses. Since 1948 jews have never been allowed to visit the Wall. One Jun 7th 1967 our IDF forces managed to liberarte the Old city. To give the supervision into the hands of Palastinians and the WAQF might have been the most sincere fault, Ben Gurion made!

32 ) Colin Wright / USA
11/10/2011 00:26
To Carlos #23 'The city of Jericho was massacred by Israelis according to the bible. Jericho was founded by Canaanites...' For those who actually care, the archeological evidence is that those Biblical conquests didn't happen. While cities became 'Jewish,' it seems to have been a process of gradual infiltration and evolution. The Torah's not a reliable source for anything before about 800 BC. One might as well believe the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

33 ) silver / phil.
11/10/2011 06:36
obama,clinton,blair,merkel and co. must read history, 20 years of negotiation, bring nothing to palestinians as israel trampling human rights of every non jews in the region. please dont be naive

34 ) Basma / London
11/10/2011 07:56
very proud to be Palestinian.

35 ) Kamal / Amman
11/10/2011 07:59
No.1 ) Salma is right, Without our dreams we have no hope

36 ) Heba / Ramallah
11/10/2011 08:02
#8 ) big like, A big hug to you Palestinian mother. yes and yes and yes.

37 ) Palestinain4EVER / NYC
11/10/2011 10:54
Palestine in UNESCO means our religious and historical places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and every where in Palestine are registered as Palestinian monuments and heritage.

38 ) tunisian / Paris
11/10/2011 11:12
we all support ,love and pray for Palestinian people! . cheers to Palestinians

39 ) Myrtil / Israel
11/10/2011 13:46
Sorry, I wrote the wrong name (31) It was not Ben Gurion but Moshe Dayan.

40 ) Nour / One-State
11/10/2011 13:58
A celebration of what came before us...Our land is blessed with heritage, be it Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. On our land we stand proud, and exercise our right of self determination, within a DEMOCRATIC FRAMEWORK. Together let us build new monuments that will one day be considered national heritage sites.

41 ) @ Carlos #23 / Logic & Fact
11/10/2011 14:20

If you believe that: [1] "Jericho was massacred by Israelis according to the bible", and [2] "the Romans kicked the Israelis out", then logically you must also beleive that Israelis have been on the Land for 1,000s of years too, so WHY WOULD "Israel have no claim to the City at all", and in fact the whole Land (other than your personal Racism) ???

42 ) Hani Naccache / Haifa, Palestine
11/10/2011 19:20
To the ignorants who posts here such as the one cl?iming palestinian heritage started in 1984.. i ask you how ignorant could you be, seriously? Our heritage didnt start in 1984 or 1948 or 1967, it started thousands of years ago with the cananites and PHILISTINES from whom we got our name. How dare you come here lying about us about our heritage? Go learn some facts about palestine and the middle east. Its you zionist ashkenazis who dont have a heritage in palestine hence why you steal from us.

43 ) Hani Naccache / Haifa Palestine
11/10/2011 19:25
Henri, Palestinians have been called philistiniyoun for ages in arabic. Our name comes from the ancient philistines whom you can read about in THE BIBLE unless you think the bible was written yesterday! If you dont know us then dont talk about us and our heritage. Its like me telling you about your french heritage and denying it.

44 ) Hani Naccache / Haifa, Palestine
11/10/2011 19:56
Henri, wow i just read what you wrote on the knafeh, truly amuzng. Trying to turn the knafeh who hails from nablus in to a french pastry are you? Get a life. Knafeh is a Palestinian desert made from a cheese from Nablus hence its original name which is knafeh Nabulsiyeh. Is Nablus french perhaps according to you? Man, you zionists really need to get a life. Palestine just like Lebanon and Syria and other arab countries were colonialized after being part of empires for over 1000 years.

45 ) Daniel / US
11/10/2011 20:15
Myrtil, from where did you (or ur parents or grandparents) emigrate from to come live in palestine and have the nerve to deny its native people who have been there for thousands of years their right to their own heritage? You ashkenazis have a right to claim askinazi culture but stay away from palestine and its heritage. A polish jew claiming palestine is as stupid as a polish muslim claiming saudi arabia.

11/10/2011 23:13
Nour, you're going to have to explain the reasoning for invading the Church of the Nativity, using it as a fortress to ward off the IDF, is that what you would call "Heritage"?, when in fact your fighters stole the Priests food supply and used the Bibles for toilet tissue

You had one of your Mosques right across the Plaza, why did they not seek refuge there?

47 ) Palestinian / Dubai
12/10/2011 14:11
to Hani Naccache, i love your comments, keep it up!

48 ) Samer / Palestine
12/10/2011 14:37
Ben jabo, as a christian from bethlehem i tell you to go get lost with your satanic lies. Two of the fighters were even christians. Nobody used the bible as toilet paper as muslims are not like you jews who do such satanic things, they respect both the bible and torah more than you, and as for the food they didnt steal it rather the priests and nuns shared it with their fellow country men fighting for our mutual cause but of course you already knew this. The torah forbids you from lying!

49 ) BEN JABO 1st of 2 posts / ISRAEL
12/10/2011 16:27
48 ) Samer
You should consider yourself luck, most of the Christians have been driven out of Bethlehem
Unless you were inside the Church with the fighters or had been inside afterwards you're just mumbling meaningless words
I suggest you Google the incident to see the various reports of what went on during the invasion of the Church, I did it, you also should
The Priest and Nuns shared it under coercion, not willingly, they complained of how their food was stolen
2 X-tian fighters ?

50 ) Amal / Ramallah
13/10/2011 14:41
BEN JABO, Zionist scums ( you one of them) are from all over the world. Dangerous CANCER.

51 ) southparkbear / usa
14/10/2011 04:38
Noura #40, your land is Jordan and gaza and due to special gesture we also gave you area C you can do cartwheels there as much as you won't but you'll never set foot or live in eretz israel.

52 ) Hannah / usa
19/10/2011 05:44
I would really like to read an english book that tells the history of Palestine. Does one exist? I would only be interested in one that was written a long time ago- beginning of the 20th century- before the actual history was distorted. If the Palestinians- living in Palestine- had an actual distinct culture that went back hundreds (thousands?) of years, I'm sure it must have been documented. For instance, when was it first claimed that the Palestinians are descended from the Cannanites?

53 ) hannah / usa
19/10/2011 06:00
To #44- Nablus was actually Neapolis (Roman 2 century b.c.) It was only changed after the Arabs conquered it in 636 c.e. Originally though, I believe it was called Schem, which I believe is Hebrew. Shocking huh?

54 ) 2 southparkbear / usa
20/10/2011 13:29
# 51 - You are incorrect. Israel still controls area C. The Palestinians currently control Gaza and areas A & B.

55 ) southparkbear / usa
21/10/2011 14:12
#54 i am willing to give the c not (C) since I want to throw in ahmad tibi and couple of villages in exchange for settlments. that's basically the clinton proposal

56 ) Jana / Amman
24/10/2011 15:21
hold your heads up, you are Palestinians!
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