Palestinians are the newest members of the UN and are taking advantage of their position to petition that the Nativity Church in Bethlehem be included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, as heads of Christians abroad report.
The World Heritage Committee agreed to meet with the Palestinian authorities to look carefully at their application. However, it remains doubtful whether they will approve of such a proposition.
Christians believe this church was the birthplace of Jesus and attracts more than 2 million visitors per year. The Palestinians have asked that the Committee recognizes it as a site of “outstanding universal value,” which urgently needs to be preserved.
Despite the fact that the church needs repair, many officials, both political and clerical, have expressed disapproval of Palestinians’ effort. Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian churches are opposed.
“In our opinion, we do not think it opportune to deal with this request that the Basilica and its entire complex be included in the list of World Heritage sites, due to different considerations,” reports the letter sent to Palestinian head Mahmoud Abbas signed by the three leaders.
Some believe that this application shows only Palestinians’ intention to rule over the long-disputed land and thus, it is drawing resistance. Palestinians will attend the World Heritage Committee meeting held from Sunday until July 6 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, when 33 sites from all over the globe will make an attempt to be named World Heritage sites.
Yousef Daher of the World Council of Churches in Jerusalem appears to agree saying that “a church is a church, it shouldn’t become a world heritage” and adds that a church’s ownership is not for anyone.
But the US State Department expressed its opposition as well and stated it feels “disappointed” by the Palestinians’ intention to push through a last minute candidacy.
Another UNESCO expert commented that Palestinians should secure the survival of the property but suggests the application be resubmitted after 18 months, that is in 2014.
(Source: cbs news)