Church of the Nativity granted UNESCO status

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A nun walks outside the Church of the Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on 28 June 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Ammar Awad)

Published Friday, June 29, 2012

The UN cultural body UNESCO ignored Israeli objections on Friday to grant world heritage status to the birthplace of Jesus Christ in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

UNESCO's 13-6 secret vote to add the Church of the Nativity and its pilgrimage route to the prestigious list was received with a round of rousing applause and a celebratory fist pump by the beaming head of the Palestinian delegation.

"These sites are threatened with total destruction through the Israeli occupation, through the building of the separation wall, because of all the Israeli sanctions and the measures that have been taken to stifle the Palestinian identity," the Palestinian delegate said after the vote.

"This global recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people is a victory for our cause and for justice," Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said.

The decision was made a day earlier than expected.

The United States said it was disappointed by the decision, which has angered Israel who oppose Palestine's bid for UN statehood.

"The United States is profoundly disappointed by the decision," Washington's mission to UNESCO headquarters in Paris said in a statement.

"The site is sacred to all Christians; it clearly has tremendous religious and historical significance. However, the emergency procedure used in this instance is reserved only for extreme cases, specifically when a site is under imminent threat of destruction," it said.

The 4th century church – built over a grotto where Christian tradition says Jesus was born – needs repairs, especially to its roof, and the Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is short of funds.

Palestinian civic groups, in a letter to UNESCO, said that the church had been destroyed by the ongoing Israeli occupation, citing in particular Israel's 2002 attack, when Palestinians hiding inside the church were besieged by the Israeli military.

PA foreign ministry official Omar Awadallah told Ma'an news agency ahead of the announcement that they had been working hard to secure the support needed to get funding for the Christian site.

The PA are now expected to organize a celebration on July 7 and have prepared applications to have another 20 sites protected by the UN body.

UNESCO became the first UN body to recognize Palestine last year, despite US and Israeli pressure. The US has since stripped its funding to the body.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

I think it's great that the Church of the Nativity is recognized by UNESCO. It's unclear to me if the US objects because of the process, or because it is in Palestine. Both seem embarrassingly petty, esp. if they're refusing to fund UNESCO anyways.

I hope this helps the church get the funding it needs to preserve this holy site for Christians everywhere.

I hope that helps all people to see that
1) Zionists are criminals and thieves
2) USA rulers are their faithful backers in crimes
3) The only way to make Christians and other natives of Palestine safe is to end the criminal colonial enterprise for good, and now

USA imperialism's so-called "Christianity" is used only to support Zionism against Muslims, pretending that there are not Christian Arabs in the ME, esp. in Palestine under Zionist jackboot.

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