Recognition sought for Church of Nativity

2012-06-21 15:30


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - The Palestinians' quest to get Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity named a Unesco World Heritage site is set to dominate a meeting next week in Russia to decide who is accepted on the prestigious list.

The World Heritage Committee is meeting in Saint Petersburg from 24 June to 6 July and is to rule on the Palestinians' first contentious application since they joined the UN's cultural body in October last year.

The site, which includes the Pilgrimage Route, is one of 33 hoping to get the coveted designation of "exceptional universal value" and join the already long list of 936 places in 153 countries.

Applicants range from the "Carioca landscapes" in Rio de Janeiro to Grand-Bassam in Ivory Coast, passing via old mining sites in northern France and Belgium, Piedmont's vineyards in Italy and Rabat in Morocco.

Five sites are natural: Chad's Lakes of Ounianga, China's Chengjian fossil site, the Sangha Park straddling Congo, Cameroon and Central African Republic, the Western Ghats in India and the Lena Pillars Nature Park in Russia.

The Palestinians' first request since they provoked the ire of Israel and the United States by joining Unesco is "on an emergency basis" because of the fourth century site's dilapidation after 50 years without restoration work.

Negative report

The full site to be listed would be the "Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem", Unesco said, noting that it would be the first such site in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories.

But the International Council on Monuments and Sites, which evaluates sites for Unesco, earlier this month delivered a negative report that said the Palestinians had not carried out a full survey of threats to the site.

Palestinian ambassador Elias Sanbar however rejected that report, saying that "those who lost the battle in the vote on Palestine's admission to Unesco want to prevent us from exercising our rights".

The report was "biased" and "politicised" and was influenced by the United States and Israel, which sought to block the Palestinians from joining Unesco, Sanbar said.

The Palestinians were admitted to Unesco in October, when its general assembly voted 107-14 to make Palestine its 195th member.

The result angered the United States, Israel's staunch ally, which says the Palestinians must reach a peace agreement with the Jewish state before they can become full members of an international organisation.

Economic benefits

Israel and the United States subsequently cut funding to Unesco, depriving the organisation of 22% of its revenues.

The Church of the Nativity is the most visited tourist site in the Palestinian territories, welcoming 2 million visitors in 2011.

The 22-nation Heritage Committee will decide on the Palestinian bid with a vote and can go against the experts' opinion.

Being anointed a World Heritage Site brings vast economic benefits in terms of funds for restoration and preservation and being able to display the coveted label is all but guaranteed to bring in more tourists.

But the main challenge today is preserving Unesco sites threatened by lack of maintenance, uncontrolled tourism or rampant economic activity such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef affected by a boom in mining and gas.

Read more on:    un  |  palestine  |  israel  |  middle east peace

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Hottie of the day: Nicole Meyer!

Nicole is the cover girl for the 2014 edition of SA Swimsuit! Check out some smoking hot pics of here here.

11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!
This is how the Top Gear presenters spend their £55 million!
Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


It may be hard to stay cool, calm and collected. Your emotions can get quite heated in the moment. You may benefit from finding more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.