PA advised against bid for Bethlehem church (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROFF 06/15/12)
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UNESCO committee comes out against PA bid to use emergency procedure
to register Church of Nativity in "Palestine."
The secretariat of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has come out
against a bid by the Palestinian Authority to use an emergency
procedure to register Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity under the
country of “Palestine” as a World Heritage site.
“At the UN, where the General Assembly each year adopts more
resolutions criticizing Israel than on the rest of the world
combined, this is a spectacle as rare as Halley’s Comet,” UN Watch
executive director Hillel Neuer said.
He first published news of the rejection on his blog, and circulated
it to the media.
“This is the first time in recent memory that a draft resolution
circulated by the United Nations – let alone by UNESCO, which
recently elected Assad’s Syria to its human rights committee – openly
rejected a Palestinian claim or position,” Neuer said. His Geneva-
based nonprofit group monitors UN activity.
The secretariat’s resolution echoes a conclusion by the International
Council on Monuments and Sites, whose professional staff similarly
concluded that the Palestinians should pursue World Heritage
registration through regular channels. It, like the secretariat, said
that more could be done to improve the technical nature of the
The Church of the Nativity is one of the 36 potential new World
Heritage sites. A World Heritage Committee of 21 countries is set to
debate their inclusion during a meeting that will be held from June
24 to July 6 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The draft resolution posted by the secretariat on the World Heritage
website states that the Palestinians should “resubmit the nomination
in accordance with normal procedures for nomination, to allow a
proper assessment of integrity, authenticity and conversation, and
proper consideration of management arrangements and appropriate
boundaries for the property.”
The final decision will be made by a two-thirds vote of the 21
countries that are members of the World Heritage Committee.
The PA has asked the World Heritage Committee to consider adding the
church to its list through an emergency procedure reserved for
Approval by the 21-member committee would mark the first time that a
World Heritage Site has been registered to the country of “Palestine.”
The United Nations has not recognized Palestine as a member state.
But in October, UNESCO vote to include Palestine on its list of 195
member states, and to accord it full state rights in all UNESCO-
related bodies, such as the World Heritage Committee.
In March, after the PA signature on the UNESCO’s Convention
Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage was
ratified, the PA asked the World Heritage Committee to register the
church and the pilgrimage route in Bethlehem.
In its application, the PA said, “The combined effects of the
consequences of the Israeli occupation and the lack of scientific and
technical measures for restoring and preserving the property are
creating an emergency situation that should be addressed by an
Israel has opposed registering the site under Palestine, until such
time as it becomes a state as a result of a negotiated end to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has opposed all unilateral steps
toward statehood by the PA.
It does, however, support registering the church as a World Heritage
site, and would have wanted to present it to the committee together
with the Palestinians as a joint endeavor.
Israel’s position at present is simply to urge the 21 member
countries to support the secretariat’s position.
The Palestinians in turn say that the church is endangered and that
it is their right to register the site solely under Palestine. (©
1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 06/15/12)
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