PA minister: Palestinians to push heritage agenda at UNESCO

October 10, 2011 11:54

RAMALLAH - The Palestinians will seek World Heritage status for Bethlehem and its Church of the Nativity if the UN cultural agency admits them as a full member, and will then nominate other sites on Israeli-occupied land for the same standing, a PA minister said on Monday.

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.

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.

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.

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